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Keys to Your Own God & I Time

Knowing God is the greatest opportunity that a human being can experience! The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ opened the way for all believers to experience vibrant, intimate communion with God through their union with Him. You can grow daily in your relationship with God by spending time with Him in His Word. Getting to know God isn’t complicated, but that doesn’t mean it is easy. Relationships of all kinds take work. A growing relationship with God won’t happen by accident—you must be intentional.

Make sure you have a:

  • Set time—Set a regular, consistent time to meet with the Lord. Purpose in your heart to seek God daily. This daily time with God sets your heart for communion with Him throughout the rest of the day.
  • Set place—Be like Jesus and find a place without distractions to meet alone with God (Matt. 14:23; Mk. 6:46; Lk. 6:12).
  • Set study—Resist the urge to be random in your approach to reading and studying the Bible. Working steadily through Scripture will help you grasp the full story of the Bible and better understand the background of passages you stop to study.

Bring the essential materials:

  • Bible
  • Notebook
  • Something to write with
  • Time

Principles to follow:

  • Begin with prayer. Ask God to open your eyes. Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law (Ps. 119:18). The Holy Spirit, who lives in all believers, is the only One who can “open your eyes” to spiritual truth. Through prayer, you demonstrate your dependence on God. You need God’s enabling!
  • The Bible is all about a Person! Look for God on every page of Scripture. His words (what He says) reveal His character (who He is). The most important question you can ask as you read is, “What does this passage teach me about God?” (2 Cor. 3:18).
  • Be willing to stay in a passage or a study until God changes you. Give God time to work in your heart.
  • Be an inquisitive student of God’s Word. Ask questions as you read Scripture or study a specific passage. “What do I learn about God, Christ, or the Holy Spirit?” “What does this passage teach me about myself, about sin, or about how I should respond to God?” Be a good “hearer” as God speaks to you through His Word. Keep a record of everything you learn.
  • Be a faithful “doer” of what God shows you in His Word (Js. 1:22-25). Ask, “How does knowing this truth about God change me?” By God’s grace, what practical action steps will you take to become more like Christ? Faith in God and love for God will be expressed in obedience to God.
  • • End your daily time in prayer. Thank God for the privilege of getting to know Him. Ask for His help to live out the truth He has shown you in your “God and I Time”!

Two Basic Types of Bible Study:

Bible study has often been compared to gardening or farming. Just as different approaches are needed to work the soil on a farm, there are several different approaches to getting our hearts and minds into the soil of God’s Word. Sometimes you need a plow to cover large areas of ground. At other times you need a trowel to dig deep into a specific part of the field.

Plow Study:

  • Covers large portions of the Bible
  • Takes in the breadth of God’s Word
  • Stays more on the surface

Plow work moves through large portions of Scripture more quickly, looking for specific themes. The key is to prayerfully look for something or Someone as you read. Choose a book of the Bible or a specific topic that interests you. Take the next several weeks to read one chapter a day, recording everything you learn about that specific topic. For example, do you want to know more about the character of God? Read through the book of Psalms and write down everything you learn about God. Do you want to know what it means to be “in Christ”? Read through the Epistles and record everything you learn about what God has given you through your union with Christ. Plow studies like these will help you learn to “think Bible.”

Trowel Study:

  • Works thoroughly in a specific area of Scripture
  • Takes in the depth of God’s Word
  • Stay in one place and digs deep

Trowel study involves choosing a passage or verse of Scripture and settling in to study that part of the Bible for a longer period of time. Take several days—or even weeks—to dig deep using The Inductive Study Method. Purpose to stay in that passage until the Lord gives you understanding. Trowel work, though more intensive than plow work, is not complicated. It simply takes time, intentionality, and humble dependence on the Lord.
Both types of Bible study are needed for a balanced diet in our Christian life. Even as you settle down to accurately interpret smaller portions of God’s Word, it is helpful for you to have the “big picture” view provided by plow work. The plow and trowel work well together. Consistent time in the Word—whatever study you choose—will produce a fuller knowledge of God and His ways.

Your time in the Word should never stop short of application (1 Cor. 8:1; Js. 1:22-25; Heb. 5:14). Seeing yourself in light of God’s nature leads to real change. As you read and study the Bible, ask the Lord to help you apply what you learn to everyday life. What needs to change so that your life better reflects God’s character? This step should help you move past just hearing God’s Word to actually doing it! Making truth practical means going beyond general application (which is fairly simple and non-confrontive: “I need to pray more”) and actually getting specific (“I will demonstrate my dependence on God by starting each day in prayer.”) Prayerfully consider what action steps you need to take. “How does knowing God change me?” Consider your relationship with God first, then expand your application to relationships with others. Apply truth to your outward actions—what you say and do—but don’t stop there. Target your heart—what you think and believe and desire. Finally, take time to respond to God through prayer (prayers of repentance and confession as well as worship and adoration).

The goal of Bible study is not to gain academic knowledge. The aim is much higher! God wants you to gain true understanding of what He has communicated about Himself, which ultimately leads to knowing Him better. Remember, the Bible is all about a Person!

The Inductive Study Method

Our study this year is of the trowel variety. Our specific tool for digging is called the Inductive Study Method. The word “inductive” simply means that we are approaching Scripture like an investigator, seeking to discover the truth. And like an investigator, we come asking questions as we survey the evidence:

  • What does it say? (Observation)
  • What does it mean? (Interpretation)
  • What should I do? (Application)

This method of investigation stands in contrast to the deductive approach, which comes to the Scripture with a conclusion already formed and then seeks to prove that conclusion from the text. With inductive study, we prayerfully examine the text first and then prayerfully seek to interpret and apply what we discover during our study. A guide to the inductive study method is included on the following pages.

Guilt-Driven vs. Glory-Driven

Getting to know God is possible for anyone who truly desires it. God is not hiding. He invites us to know Him. God demonstrated His commitment to a close relationship with us when He sent Jesus—who not only made God known to us (Jn. 1:14; 2 Cor. 4:6; Heb. 1:1-3), but also provided the only way for us to have a right relationship with Him (Jn. 14:6). Through Jesus, our “hope of glory” is restored (Rom. 5:1-2; 1 Jn. 3:1-3). We experience some of this glory even now when we behold God in His Word (2 Cor. 3:18). Like Moses we can pray in faith, “Please show me Your glory” (Ex. 33:18). God loves answering this prayer for His children. He reveals Himself to all who seek Him in His Word.

Bible study isn’t about guilt. It’s about glory—God’s glory. But a “glory-driven” mindset doesn’t negate the simple truth that growing in your relationship with the Lord does not happen accidentally. But neither does it happen by self-effort. Rather, this spiritual discipline requires dependence, relying on God for strength to obey and trusting Him to give understanding. Jerry Bridges puts it well,

“We would much rather pray, ‘Lord, make me godly,’ and expect Him to ‘pour’ some godliness into our souls in some mysterious way. God does in fact work in a mysterious way to make us godly, but He does not do this apart from the fulfillment of our own personal responsibility…under His direction and by His enablement. The power and enablement for a godly life comes from the risen Christ and is experienced through our relationship with Him by expressing my dependence on Christ through prayer and by beholding the glory of Christ in His Word.”

Jerry Bridges, The Practice of Godliness

A “guilt-driven” mindset expresses itself in “doing devotions” and checking Bible reading off a list of spiritual things I’m expected to do. A “glory-driven” mindset expresses itself in diligently and dependently seeking God in His Word, with the hopeful expectation of getting to know Him in order to become more like Him. Not duty, but delight.

“He has called us into a living relationship with Him by placing us in Christ, and He has called us to experience the joy and power of that relationship by having daily communion with Him.”

Jerry Bridges, True Community

Opening the Bible with a desire to see God is an act of faith. Faithfully do your part, while trusting God to do what He has promised: Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Hebrews 11:6 He rewards those who seek him.

What is the reward? God Himself! Of course, this is a reward that you cannot hoard. Knowing God is not a selfish pursuit. You get glory from God so that you can give glory to God. May you devote your life to seeking Him! He is worthy!