When faced with the problems that so often plague life, many people search the Bible for instruction, hope, or solutions. That’s definitely a good idea. But exactly how they search for that help in the pages of God’s Word might be leaving them feeling empty.
You’ve seen others do it…and you’ve probably done it yourself. Dilemma strikes so you grab your Bible, utter a quick prayer to God for supernatural guidance, and then let it mystically fall open to a page you hope God will use to speak into your situation.
How often does that actually work?
Lots of people – non-Christians as well as Christians – have tried that “strategy” and it defies understanding. After all, we don’t do that with car trouble. “The engine won’t start, but if I turn to some random page in the owner’s manual, maybe I’ll discover the solution to my problem.” Letting gravity decide which page the manual opens to might solve your problem…but it’s more likely you’ll read about proper tire pressure, or seat belt operation, or when to replace windshield wiper blades. You still don’t know what to do about your engine problem because you didn’t know where to turn in the owner’s manual.
But let’s play the “what if” game for a moment. Let’s say you use the random page strategy and it actually speaks to the topic you’re facing. Here’s why that’s still a roll of the dice:
“God, what should I do to find a husband?”
You grab your Bible, fan through the first few pages, and then settle on the words of Genesis 19:31-32.
And the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.”
“Lord, how should I deal with those who pick on me?”
With tears in your eyes, you pick up a Bible, position it just right, and let it fall open. You land in 2 Kings Chapter 2 and read verses 23 and 24.
Elisha went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys.
That’s one way of handling the haters….
“God, what should we do to pay all these bills?”
Reaching for the Bible, you flip it open nonchalantly, and land on the perfect verse. Later that day you go to Bass Pro Shops and confidently buy a new fishing pole because “the Lord led you” to Matthew 17:27.
“Go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
Probably not what God was trying to say to you….
It’s easy to see why this is a flawed strategy. There’s no guarantee – at all – that you’ll hear what God wants to say if you choose Bible passages based on the equivalent of eeny, meeny, miney, moe. You need a better plan…a much better plan!
Try this instead: spend so much time in God’s Word that you’re familiar enough with it you know where to turn for God’s counsel on any given subject/problem/question. For example, if we want to hear about Jesus, we need to be in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. If we want wisdom, we should spend some time in Proverbs or James. If we want answers about how we got here and what we’re here for, we might want to start in Genesis.
God can speak at any time in any way He wants. He’s God. But don’t reduce your Bible study methods to dumb luck. Study the Word of God so you’ll hear the voice of God.
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(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)