Thursday, October 20, 2011

How to Dig for Treasure

I learned to study my bible and dig for treasure at a women’s study at our church. I was a new believer at the time, and had never been taught how to study God’s word. My leader gave me 5 questions to ask while I did my study, and still to this day I use these 5 questions when I come before God and His word.
1)      What did I learn about God?
2)      What did I learn about myself?
3)      What did I learn about my life?
4)      What can I apply to my life?
5)      What can I pray back to God?
Asking these 5 questions throughout the passages we were given to read changed the way I learned from God’s Word. No longer was I just reading and going through the motions. I had learned that there was a purpose and a reason to study God’s word. I learned how to grow and how to walk for the first time. I learned that there were treasures to be found, hidden in the pages of my bible- waiting to be discovered. I had started a great journey, the most fascinating and rewarding treasure hunt of my life.
I belong to a church that teaches the Bible verse by verse. We do expository teaching. We believe that God’s Word is to be taught “precept upon precept, line upon line.” (Isaiah 28:10) So, as I study my bible, that is how I read- line upon line, asking myself the five questions. Now, not all the time do I ask all five questions as I study. The most important questions for me are “what did I learn about God, myself and how do I apply this to my life.” If you never do the last two, and only focus on the first three questions, I promise you, your study time will be blessed above and beyond all that you can ask or think. Your knowledge and your relationship with God will increase beyond bounds. God is a God of wisdom, and when we seek His wisdom, He is faithful to bestow it upon us.
The other aspects that I learned when studying my bible was to have a few things handy. First was a pen to take notes, a notepad to write down what God was saying to me, as well as a Hebrew/ Greek dictionary, an English dictionary and a concordance of some sort. I have graduated over the years and now use the internet for my resources. However, I still revert to my old Hebrew/ Greek dictionary as well as my concordance. I also found that adding a few commentaries is helpful as well.
Finding a place to go that is quiet and comfortable is also very important. Jesus told us that when we pray we are to go into our closet, and shut the door. "But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who [is] in the secret [place]; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:6. You need to set aside a place where you and your Father can get alone together without distraction. The excuses will come, I know- I have said them all. “I don’t have time today, Lord,” or “the kids are constantly interrupting me” or “my husband needs me”. The excuses are going to come- and they are going to roll off your tongue very easily. But, the decision to go and be with your Lord is in your hands. If you really want to, you will make it happen.
When I was a new believer just beginning to study God’s Word, my husband was an unbeliever, and my children were little. There are going to be battles, especially when you start setting aside time to spend with God. Everything that can happen will happen the moment you close that door. But, you have to resist and stay in that closet until the Lord says you can come out.  Jesus tells us that when we pray we are to “shut the door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place”- your heavenly Father is waiting patiently for you to come to Him and spend time with Him. Don’t waste another day giving Him excuses- go, seek Him out and open His Word, the treasures will begin to flow abundantly out of His Word and you will grow thereby. Soon, all those distractions will go away, they will subside and the time that you spend with God will be the best part of your day. You will begin to wake up each morning, eager to spend time with Him. You will go to bed at night with the anticipation of tomorrow- when you and He can be alone together again. What a great desire to have!
After you have found your secret place, and settled in with your bible and your heavenly Father the next step is to pray. Before we go before God’s word, we must ask for His wisdom to understand it. Have you ever noticed that when you speak scripture to a non-believer, they look at you with this deer in the headlights look? It is because the only one who understands God’s word is the God who wrote it. The Holy Spirit that is living inside each of us believers gives us the understanding and the wisdom we need to uncover the buried treasure. We cannot know and understand God’s word on our own- we must be taught. The Holy Spirit has been given to us to do just that- teach us. A simple prayer to pray before you begin your study is, “Lord, reveal Your Word to me today. Give me the wisdom and understanding to hear what You desire to show me today. In Jesus Name, Amen.”
Start reading- somewhere, anywhere. A good place to start is the gospel of John. I always tell new believers to start in John because it is easier to digest at first than some of the other gospels. When I have finished studying a book, or finished the passages that the Lord had me focus on, I always ask Him where He desires me to go. He knows what we need to hear, He knows what we need to work on in our lives, everything He has to say to us is found in His Word. Ask the Lord where He wants you to read, then go there. I remember one time the Lord told me to go and read Isaiah- I had no clue why, but I was obedient and did so. I was so blessed by the words as they jumped off the pages and into my heart. I would have missed the blessing He wanted to give me that morning if I hadn’t listened. If you take a moment to listen to Him, He has already given you a scripture that morning, or a hint of where you need to start digging. Just go with it- take your shovel (your pen and paper) and start to read.
As you are reading, there are going to be specific words or verses that are going to “jump” up at you as you read. Highlight or underline these, this is where God wants to speak to you today. Yes, it is okay to write in your bible- there is no law against it, it is not sacrilegious either. I promise you, you will not upset God if you write in your bible. A well worn bible is a sign of a Christian in love with their God- so wear it out! There are times when I am reading that a word or a verse will pop out at me, and I will continue to read on. But no matter what I do, I always go back to that place where God stopped me the first time. This is your treasure- this word or verse that just popped out at you- dig, there is treasure buried here.
Begin digging by writing down in your notebook the word or verse that you stopped at. Then look up the reference verse that may be with that sentence, write them down as well. Begin by looking up the word and its meaning. Now, ask yourself the first question- What did I learn about God? What is this word or verse telling you about God, His character, His will? Take time to meditate on it for a moment. Ask Him to show you- He is always faithful to do so. Write down what He is telling you. Second, what did you just learn about yourself? Ask God to reveal to you what areas you need to work on, the sin that maybe He is trying to bring forth and get rid of. Whatever it is that God is showing you, write it down.  There will be times in your life that you will go back through these studies and you will see how God has brought you through and worked in your life. You will be amazed and blessed at the treasures you will find and the riches that you will have gained through simply studying God’s word.
We have been given the greatest treasure ever known to man, and yet we let that treasure sit on our coffee table until Sunday morning. Oh, if we could just see the depths and the riches of God that are waiting to be uncovered! You have this deep desire to know God more intimately, but you do not know how to make it happen. You have this deep indwelling desire in you that hungers and thirsts for God, but nothing seems to satisfy it? There is an answer- become a treasure seeker. Seek the abundant treasures of His Word, you will be filled to overflowing and you will begin to grow in ways you never thought possible. He will begin to work in your life and you will be changed. To be a dedicated treasure seeker, you have to be willing to give up one thing. That one thing is time. If you are willing, He is waiting. Let’s go digging!