Abrahamic / Middle Eastern Christianity Get to Know God Through Reading His Word Excerpt From the Booklet Spending Time With God Share Flipboard Email Print Spending Time With God by Danny Hodges. Image: © Calvary Chapel St. Petersburg Christianity Practical Tools for Christians Cultivating Prayer as a Way of Life Essential Bible Verses Christianity Origins The Bible The New Testament The Old Testament Christian Life For Teens Christian Prayers Weddings Inspirational Bible Devotions Denominations of Christianity Funerals and Memorial Services Christian Holidays Christian Entertainment Key Terms in Christianity Catholicism Latter Day Saints View More By Pastor Danny Hodges Pastor Danny Hodges served as Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel St. Petersburg in Florida for more than three decades. In 2017, he established Calvary Chapel Fellowship. our editorial process Pastor Danny Hodges Updated June 25, 2019 This study on reading the Word of God is an excerpt from the booklet Spending Time With God by Pastor Danny Hodges of Calvary Chapel Fellowship in St. Petersburg, Florida. What does spending time with God look like? Where do I begin? What should I do? Is there a routine? Basically, there are two essential ingredients for spending time with God: the Word of God and prayer. Let me try to paint a practical picture of what spending time with God might look like as we include these two vital elements. Get to Know God Through Reading the Word Start with the Bible. The Bible is the Word of God. The Bible reveals God. God is a living being. He's a person. And because the Bible is the Word of God— because it reveals who God is—it is one of the most necessary ingredients for having fellowship with God. We need to spend time reading the Word of God to learn about God. It may sound simple to say, "Read the Word." But, many of us have tried it without much success. Not only do we need to read the Word, we also need to understand it and apply it to our lives. Here are five practical suggestions on how to go about understanding and applying God's Word: Have a Plan When you read the Word of God it's best to have a plan, or you'll probably give up very quickly. As the saying goes, if you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time. Sometimes a young man will ask a girl out on a date and get all excited if she says yes. But then he goes to pick her up, and she asks, "Where are we going?" If he hasn't planned ahead, he'll give the typical response, "I don't know. Where do you want to go?" I used to do this to my wife when we were dating, and it's amazing that she married me. If he's like me, he probably won't make much progress until he gets his act together. Girls usually like things to be planned when they go out on a date. They want the guy to be considerate, to think ahead, and plan where they will go and what they'll do. Similarly, some people try to read the Word, but they don't have a plan. Their plan is simply to open up the Bible and read whatever page is in front of them. Occasionally, their eyes will fall on a particular verse, and it will be exactly what they needed for the moment. But, we should not depend on this type of random reading of God's Word. Once in a while you may just plop open your Bible and discover a timely word from the Lord, but that's not the "norm." If your reading is planned and systematic, you will gain a better understanding of the context of each passage and come to learn the whole counsel of God, rather than just bits and pieces. Our weekend worship services are planned. We select the music. The musicians practice regularly so that the Lord can use them more effectively. I study and prepare for what I'm going to teach. I don't just stand up in front of everybody and say to myself, Okay Lord, give it to me. It doesn't happen that way. We have to set a plan to study through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, covering the New Testament on weekends and the Old Testament on Wednesdays. Likewise, you ought to have a plan for reading the Word, one that includes a goal of reading from Genesis through Revelation, because God wrote it all for us. He doesn't want us to leave any of it out. I used to skip parts of the Old Testament when I got to those long lists of names and genealogies. I would think to myself, "Why in the world did God put this in here?" Well, God showed me. He gave me a thought one day, and I know it was from Him. As I was beginning to skip over what I considered a boring and meaningless list of names, He said to me, "Those names don't mean anything to you, but they mean a lot to me, because I know every one of them." God showed me how personal He was. Now, every time I read them, I'm reminded of how personal God is. He knows us by name, and He knows every person that has ever been created. He's a very personal God. So, have a plan. There are a wide variety of plans available for reading through the Bible. Most likely, your local church or Christian bookstore will have several selections to choose from. You might even find one in the front or back of your own Bible. Most reading plans take you through the entire Bible in one year. It doesn't take a lot of time, and if you will do it regularly, in just one year you'll have read God's Word from cover to cover. Imagine reading through the entire Bible not once, but several times! Since we already know that the Bible reveals a living God, that's a great way to get to know Him. All it takes is a genuine desire and a bit of discipline and perseverance. Read for Observation and Personal Application When you read, don't do it simply to get the job done. Don't just read so you can mark it off on your reading plan and feel good that you did it. Read for observation and personal application. Pay attention to details. Ask yourself, "What's taking place here? What does God have to say? Is there a personal application for my life?" Ask Questions As you read, you'll come to passages you don't understand. This happens to me often, and when it does I ask, "Lord, what does this mean?" There are things I still don't understand that I first questioned years ago. You see, God hasn't told us everything (1 Corinthians 13:12). There are skeptics out there who want us to give them all the answers to tough questions like, "Where did Cain get his wife?" Well, the Bible doesn't tell us. If God had wanted us to know, He would have told us. The Bible doesn't reveal everything, but it does tell us all we need to know in this life. God wants us to ask questions, and He will answer many of those questions. But it's important to know that complete understanding will only come when we see the Lord face to face. In my own personal devotions, I ask a lot of questions. I've actually written down or typed into my computer many things I've asked God about as I've read through the Scriptures. It's been very interesting for me to go back and read some of those questions and see how God has answered them. He hasn't always answered immediately. Sometimes it takes a while. So, when you ask God what something means, don't expect a sonic boom or a thundering voice from heaven with an instant revelation. You may have to search. You may have to think. Sometimes we're just plain thick-headed. Jesus was always turning to the disciples and saying, "Don't you guys understand yet?" So, sometimes the problem is just our own thick-headedness, and it takes time for us to see things clearly. There may be times when it's not God's will to give you the revelation. In other words, there will be passages He doesn't provide insight on at the time you ask. Jesus said to His disciples on one occasion, "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear" (John 16:12). Some things will only come to us with time. As brand new believers in the Lord, we can't handle certain things. There are some things God will only show us as we mature spiritually. It's the same with young children. Parents communicate what they need children to understand according to their age and ability to grasp. Small kids don't know how every appliance in the kitchen works. They don't understand everything about electrical power. They simply need to understand "no" and "do not touch," for their own protection. Then, as children grow and mature, they can receive more "revelation." In Ephesians 1:17-18a, Paul records a beautiful prayer for the believers in Ephesus: I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you... (NIV) Maybe you've had the experience of reading a verse that you didn't comprehend, and you've asked many times for understanding. Then, all of a sudden, the light clicks on, and you understand it completely. Most likely, God just gave you a revelation regarding that passage. So, don't be afraid to ask questions: "Lord, show me. What does this mean?" And in time, He will teach you. Write Down Your Thoughts This is just a suggestion that has helped me. I've done it for years. I write down my thoughts, questions and insights. Sometimes I write down what God tells me to do. I keep a master list called "Things to Do." It's divided into two categories. One section is related to my responsibilities as a pastor, and the other concerns my personal and family life. I keep it stored on my computer and update it regularly. For example, if I've been reading the passage in Ephesians 5 stating, "Husbands, love your wives …," God may speak to me about doing something special for my wife. So, I make a note on my list to be sure I don't forget. And, if you're like me, the older you get, the more you forget. Pay attention to the voice of God. Sometimes He'll tell you to do something, and at first you won't recognize that it's His voice. Perhaps you're simply not expecting to hear something big and important, like when He told Jonah, "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it." But God may say very ordinary things, too, like, "Cut the grass," or, "Clean up your desk." He may tell you to write a letter or take someone a meal. So, learn to listen for the little things God tells you, as well as the big things. And, if necessary—write it down. Respond to the Word of God After God speaks to you, it's crucial that you respond. This is probably the most important step of all. If you just read the Word and know what it says, what good has it done you? God intends not only that we know His Word, but that we do His Word. Knowing means nothing if we don't do what it says. James wrote about this: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25, NIV) We're not going to be blessed in what we know; we're going to be blessed in what we do. There's a big difference. The Pharisees knew a lot, but they didn't do a lot. At times we look for great commands like, "Go and be a missionary to the natives in the jungles of Africa!" God does at times speak to us in this way, but more often, He speaks to us about our day-to-day responsibilities. As we listen and respond regularly, He brings great blessings to our lives. Jesus said this plainly in John 13:17 as He taught the disciples how to love and serve one another daily: "Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."