Letting Jesus study me

I’ve been doing devotional reading of the Bible for over 18 years now. What I mean is, I’ve been letting the God of the Word study me. For the 20-some years before that, I studied the Bible. I only bring this up to provide context for what I want to share.

For about about 14 years I followed a plan where I read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice every year. I posted a short series on this method back in 2016. For information about about that, check out “Letting the Bible Study You.” Another helpful post to help you understand where I’m coming from would be “Encountering the God of the Word.”

Going through the Bible every year like that was very helpful and gave me a profound understanding of God’s redemptive story, but since then I’ve landed on a more productive method of reading, for me, that I’ll share here. I think I can pretty much guarantee that if you practice this method on a consistent basis (best done daily), and have an open heart and do what it says, it will transform your life forever! Keep in mind, though, that the effect will be cumulative.

How can I make such a guarantee? Because I’ve come to find that there’s a type of truth that’s much more profound and goes far deeper than historical facts, scientific facts, or even theological facts…because this truth is a Person (John 14:6), and when we encounter Him in the text, we’re transformed from the inside-out; we’re progressively being shaped into the person we were always meant to become.

32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32 NKJV)

Getting Started

First, use a Bible translation you clearly understand. You need to know what’s being communicated to you with no linguistic hindrances. I’ve used several translations over the years. I’m currently using The Passion Translation (TPT).

Second, read a passage of Scripture until the Lord seems to be highlighting something in the text. This Holy Spirit interruption is sort of like Moses with the burning bush: “I must  aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” (Exod.3:3)

NOTE: start with the Gospels. You need to know the heart of Jesus before reading the rest of the Bible. (See “Jesus is how we understand God.”) As you’re reading the text, ask yourself, “How do I understand this passage through the “lens” of the resurrected Christ?” In other words, on this side of the Cross. For more on that, here’s another post” “Reading the Bible with the right glasses.”

Third, don’t refer to commentaries or study guides. These can be good but they’re a big hindrance to having God speak to you personally. What you want here is not necessarily correct doctrine, but what is God saying to me personally. In other words, what is God addressing in my life at this time?

One last thing before we get to the questions. Journaling, or writing out what you’re experiencing, is critically important. I promise you, it will make a BIG difference. When you write down what you’re getting from your time with Jesus, you’ll not only have a record of it to come back to, you’ll get more from God as you write!

Okay, now we’re ready for the questions.

The Questions

Here’s what I do in simple bullet points with a brief explanation and examples:

  • Write out the passage that God is highlighting. As with journaling, when we write out the passage it brings it into another part of our brain. Don’t skip this step! But you also don’t need to write out the whole passage. Just write what God is highlighting.

This is not the best example from my own journaling, but it will provide a recent one. I was reading through Matthew this morning and God stopped me at Matthew 4 with the following statement:  “…once the accuser left him, and angels suddenly gathered around Jesus to minister to his needs.” (Matt.4:11 TPT) What seemed to jump out at me was that the angels came suddenly after the accuser left Him. Why not before?

  • What is God saying to me in this passage? (Only use first-person language). How is this locating where I’m at right now?

In my example above, I wrote: “This speaks to me about how and why God allows me to be tested. What’s interesting is that the angels only came after the test. In times past, I’ve felt like God was not there during a trial I was going through but He was. What I’m seeing is that He was allowing me to test my faith in Him, which is how I know what I actually believe. And when it was over, I have felt His love and strengthening. Perhaps angels were ministering to me and I was unaware of it!”

  • What am I supposed to do/change based on what God is saying to me? This is where you need to be open and honest. This is also where you’re getting out of your comfort zone! Remember that you can only apply this Scripture to yourself. What is Jesus wanting you to change or do, based on what you’re reading?

In my example, I wrote: “This really shows me how you’re actually there with me. Please forgive me for the times I’ve doubted you, or forgot that you’re always in me. I’m seeing, more and more, that this is Your maturing process for me. Jesus, this is how you were fathered. I need to see these trials as opportunities to help me strengthen my faith in You!”

  • Pray for empowering grace to do/change what God is saying. Again, write out your prayer. It will help you think about what you want to say and gets rid of the fluff and will help you pray more effectively. It’s also a record of your time with Jesus that you can come back and pray again anytime!

My prayer: “Papa, thank you for fathering me and helping me to become a mature son in You. Jesus, please strengthen me by your grace and remind me that I’m in you, and you’re working in me, even when it seems like I’m in a battle all alone. I look forward to the times of refreshing in your presence afterward. I find myself being more and more amazed at how you work in me every day! Such grace! Such wisdom and love! Amen.” 

Of course, the writing is nothing like the actual experience I had with the Lord when we were conversing together! I invite you to invite Jesus into your Bible reading. Give it a spin and see what happens. I think you’ll taste and see that the Lord is good!

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 39 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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8 Responses to Letting Jesus study me

  1. hawk2017 says:

    A wonderful Concept.:)

  2. AfroLatino says:

    Hi Mel

    Thank you so much for this.

    I really like your point of “don’t refer to commentaries or study guides” and wish more Christians would advocate this. The opposite seems to be the norm.

    After so many years of study guides, I decided to stop this and let Jesus study me. It has been very rewarding! I have never felt so peaceful and a lot of emotional healing has taken place.

    I also dare to add that I stopped attending church bible study groups after a few years. I have nothing against them but found them to be more of us vs them and doctrinal debates. This could be controversial but it is my experience and always open to joining a group where we can grow together and let Jesus study us.

    God bless

    • Mel Wild says:

      It is sad when arguing about doctrines are more important than a relationship with Jesus. There are groups out there who do let Jesus study them. I’m sure you’ll find one eventually…or you just can start one. All you need is a Bible and the Holy Spirit. 🙂

  3. Running the Race says:

    I like this Mel, including the part about not using a commentary.

    That being said, I know a pastor who never uses a commentary and therefore sometimes gets the meaning of some passages wrong.

    So, maybe we should not always use a commentary or not use a commentary at first so we can let the Holy Spirit speak to us through the Word.

    Bot using a commentary all the time seems like a bad practice.

    Apologies if I’ve missed your meaning here but those are my thoughts.

    James

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks for your comments, James. I agree about the proper place for commentaries. I have a library full of them, along with systematic theology. They’re just not in my Bible. As I mentioned in my recent post, “Taste and See,” theology and commentaries are the guardrails to that keep our faith from veering over the cliff, so to speak. They’re just not good for devotional reading, where we want to learn to hear God’s voice and develop a relationship with Jesus.

      I like Bibles with no study guides because people tend to confuse or even conflate the commentary with the Scripture. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve led a devotional group and asked them what God was personally saying to them through the Scripture, only to have them read from the commentary or study guide, or worse, give me blank stares!

  4. Yes, amen! Well put, Mel. I do something similar and it is wonderful, just a huge blessing. You mentioned testing in your example, well it took me the longest time to realize this was an open book test! And God isn’t testing us in a “pass or fail” way. He already knows! God doesn’t test us to find out what we’re made of, He tests us so WE can find out what we’re made of. And Who we are made in the likeness of! We’re often stronger than we realize and more closely tethered to the Lord then we know.

    There is huge resistance to what you’ve written in much of the Christian world, however. Or at least, that is really evident to me. I am chuckling because when you wrote, “but what is God saying to me personally. In other words, what is God addressing in my life at this time?” I pictured a good dozen people I know just fainting outright. There is huge fear, this idea that God doesn’t speak to us personally, and an insistence that Scripture says one thing only, and we all need to be told what that is.

    • Mel Wild says:

      “There is huge fear, this idea that God doesn’t speak to us personally, and an insistence that Scripture says one thing only, and we all need to be told what that is.”

      LOL! I laugh because it’s So ironic! It’s actually very frightening to me that devoted followers of Jesus can turn their relationship with God into some orphan-hearted mindset totally cut off from the very core of what it means to follow Christ. It’s also ironic that this is SO foreign to the Scriptures. Two passages immediately come to mind:

      4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” (John 10:4-5)

      39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life….” (John 5:39)

      What don’t we get about this? Honesty, I can’t imagine a Christianity so powerless and devoid of intimacy with God. And, besides, His perfect love casts out fear. 🙂

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