The Lord has blessed me abundantly. He has given me more opportunities than I could ever have imagined, more love than I can comprehend, and more delights than I can acknowledge. And if that were not enough, He will give me even more. He loves to lavish me with His goodness and I love to receive all His blessings. They are like kisses from heaven.
Dee Brestin shared the following in her study, Falling in Love with Jesus:
“A kiss from the King, according to rabbinical tradition, is a living word from Scripture. When a verse leaps out at you and you have the sense that God has spoken personally to you, you have been kissed by the King.”
This quote is a beautiful illustration to hearing God’s voice through His Word. Bible study and devotional reading are two methods we can use daily. We need both methods when approaching the Word. They are equally important to our spiritual development. One is just far more intimate than the other.
Most believers are adept at Bible study. We have countless study guides to help us delve deeper into His Word. We can do exegetical studies of a book dissecting it verse by verse using commentaries of the original language. Topical studies can take us on a thrilling journey from Genesis to Revelation to discover God’s amazing truths. Wisdom is more precious than all the world’s hidden treasure. The Bible never disappoints in providing new revelation.
But when all we do is Bible study, we maintain control over our time in the Word. We approach His Word as a textbook or resource to find answers to our questions. Most of the time is spent searching for the fill-in-the-blanks of our workbook and when the day’s lesson is complete, we stop reading. Our work is done.
I know God speaks through these studies in His Word. I don’t wish to imply that Bible study is in some way inadequate. I would still be a crippled, weak, useless Christian if it were not for the dozens of Bible studies I have completed. God has spoken to me throughout the years when I have been studying to teach a lesson or complete another teacher’s course. His Words have been the double-edged sword that has shaped and molded me into His image. I intend to continue doing Bible studies daily for I want more of His character developed in me.
A few years ago, we hosted Dr. Henry Blackaby at a dinner. I invited a few friends including a couple of seminary students. He was asked to give these students a word of advice. His answer was simple but profound. I have never forgotten.
He told the students to draw a line down the center of their notebook pages. On one side of the line they were to take notes from their professors and textbooks. On the other side, they were to record what the Spirit said to them. He then told them to live by what the Spirit said.
It was then that I realized the difference between Bible study and devotional reading. In Bible study, we are in control searching for a predetermined lesson. With devotional reading, God is in control of where we read and the time we spend.
The Bible becomes a love letter more than a textbook. Someone once said that the Bible is the only book ever written where the author is present every time we open it. To read devotionally, we approach our time with prayers similar to these:
Father, I want to hear from You.
Show me something new about You as I read.
I want to see Jesus on every page.
I will read until You stop me.
Reveal to me what is on Your heart.
Use Your Word to transform me into the image of Your Son.
This is Your time, guide me. I yield to You.
(Please refer to my last Wednesday blog to get ideas on how to know when He speaks and how you should respond.)
I don’t recommend you just randomly open the Bible and begin reading. Though there are times He will speak a passage into your heart. It is wise to use a daily reading program like the one used by Billy Graham. He suggests that you begin in Genesis 1 and read until the Spirit stops you….with a Kiss. Respond to Him for you have truly been supernaturally touched. Worship, obey, repent, or simply delight in the truth revealed.
Day two, you will do the same but begin in Matthew 1. Day three return to where you left off in Genesis. Day four you will return to Matthew. Keep this alternating schedule and allow Him to astound you at how personal He will make each passage to your daily needs.
Devotional reading takes time and openness to the Spirit. Some days you will read for hours while other days He may stop you on the first verse. When you become attuned to the Spirit, then you can merge devotional reading into your Bible study time using Dr. Blackaby’s suggestion. After you record the proper answer to the study question, then sit quietly before the Lord asking Him to reveal His personal Word through that same passage.
Wait, listen, and delight when the kiss comes. There is no grander blessing than to daily receive a kiss from the Almighty Lover of your Soul.