Digging In to Scripture

The Value of Research

As a writer, I fully understand the value of research and knowing my topic well. Regardless of length or type of work, research allows me to better know my writing topic.  When I struggle at any point in a writing project, research always produces the breakthrough I need to move forward.

This same approach plays a significant role in my faith walk too. Regardless of the struggle or challenge, seeking God’s will by digging into scripture always strengthens my faith.

I’m referring to going beyond daily devotions. I’m getting at digging into all the scripture related to the struggle or challenge and refusing to stop until your faith revitalizes. It may take several hours, days or even longer, but the time spent won’t be in vain.

If you refuse to quit and push through, you’ll come through the stronger because you’ll know God and his will better than ever before.

Steps for Digging In to Scripture

Below are my basic steps specific to digging in to scripture. Take them and make them your own!

  1. Make a list of related scripture and read through them. Make note of the ones that most connect with your struggle. I usually find them with the concordance in my Bible or by doing a Google search. If doing a Google search, only look at Scripture at this point. Stay away from any articles or commentaries. Just you and God for now.
  2. Write out the scripture that stood out to you. Don’t question why some click while others don’t. Just go with it. It’s the Holy Spirit working.
  3. Make bullet points for each scripture. Write down any thought or connection you make with the reference. No editing. Just record what comes to mind.
  4. Meditate on each Scripture. I often take walks or go for bike rides or even take a nap where I fall asleep thinking about the Scripture as related to my struggle or topic. Just spend time directing your thoughts toward the Scripture you’re studying.
  5. Read through the Scripture and your notes again. Make note of additional thoughts and revelations.
  6. Pray using the Scripture and your notes. Talk to God about what you’re studying. You may have more notes to take during this step.
  7. Listen for God to speak to you. Again, go for a walk or bike ride, but this time just listen for God’s whisper in your mind. Don’t make yourself think anything.
  8. Seek outside sources. Only do this after you’ve spent significant one-on-one time with God. These sources include commentaries, sermons and articles about the scripture and topic you’re studying.
  9. Talk out what you’re studying. Again, only do this after lots of one-on-one time. Find a good listener and share what you’ve discovered. Then, let that person give you some input.
  10. Consider journaling. This works best if you do it throughout the process. I actually do these steps in my journal.

The key in this process lies with refusing to quit. Keep reading through the scripture, and keep meditating on them too. Push through and continue digging in even if you don’t feel or hear anything at first. God will speak to you. Expect it to happen.

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)

How to… Take Action

Throughout my healing journey, which has really been taking place my whole adult life, there were days when my persistence was rock solid, and knowledge and wisdom seemed like ever-flowing springs. On these days, growth seemed to happen before my very eyes, and I felt like I was finally on my way to victory.

But most days weren’t like that. Most days, I felt like Elijah when he “sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die.” On most days, I also often did what Elijah did next. He “lay down and slept under the broom tree.”

Following this, God takes Elijah through a long process (found in 1 Kings 19) that eventually leads to action. This is a process with which I definitely can relate.

Let’s look this process and how it prepares us for taking action.

  1. Have quiet time. Elijah may have left because he was afraid and felt like the world was against him, but getting quiet time with God was what he needed. So many times, I just needed quiet. Sometimes, I ran away like Elijah did. But always, God used quiet times to heal me and prepare me for action.
  2. Get some nourishment. When we have too much stress, our bodies need more nourishment. Unfortunately, we tend to either eat less or eat the wrong foods instead. But getting the proper nourishment is necessary for us to start moving again, just like it was for Elijah.
  3. Start moving. God eventually got Elijah going again. Notice that He didn’t have him go anywhere in particular. We know this because when Elijah was ready to go back into civilization, God told him to “go back the way you came.” Sometimes, we just need to put one foot in front of the other and start moving. Doing this led Elijah to a place where he was ready and able to deal with the problem. My times of rest and nourishment always do the same for me too.
  4. Identify the problem. Elijah was then finally ready to talk, so he vented to God. So often, our first reaction is to vent to someone who will agree with us. But God didn’t do that. He just listened and then moved on to the next step. One of the greatest lessons God has taught me through this process is to talk to Him before going to anyone else and sometimes only to Him. I learned that doing so gets me ready to take action more quickly anyway.
  5. Make a list. After Elijah vented, God gave him a list of action items that basically addressed Elijah’s needs. On my toughest days, having a “to do” list helped me at least accomplish something and feel productive. Having a list gives me focus. I don’t have to figure out over and over again what to do. I just move through the list.
  6. Take action. Elijah didn’t question God; he just got to work on the list. After having the time he needed to rest & recuperate, Elijah was ready to get back into action with God.

One more significant point to note is illustrated by the fact that this particular time away for Elijah came after his overwhelming victory on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18). Isn’t it interesting how our biggest struggles come after some of our biggest successes?

Chris Patton talked about this in Don’t Relax After Victory!, and his suggestions there compliment our discussion here quite well. We need to remain vigilant and come up with ways to protect ourselves from the enemy’s attacks, which often come right after a victory. This happened both with Joshua and with Elijah, but their reactions were quite different.

I find great comfort in knowing that the God who led Elijah through his struggle with fear and loneliness is the same God who today will do the same for each of us. I know this because he did it during one of the toughest times in my life, and he continues to do so whenever I need it still today.

DISCUSSION: What suggestions do you have for taking action?

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