Are you asking the right questions?
Josh and I recently attended a conference entitled "Everyday Worship: How God Brings the Bible to Life" hosted by the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). There were 4 amazing sessions where the speaker, Dr. David Powlison, unpackaged fresh ways to encounter the Word of God. The one session that stood out to me was entitled "Learning to ask the right questions."
In the session, Dr. Powlison said, "Scripture has been designed by God Himself to connect to our life experiences." He then went on to say that while the Bible was written to connect with us and answer life's questions, "people tend to ask the wrong questions of life and of the Bible." So, how do you learn to ask the right questions? Dr. Powlison answered that very question with three ways to ask questions and interact with the Word of God.
Listen to Josh and Sarah recap CCEF's everyday conference
#1 - Start with the straightforward passages.
Some passages are easier to apply to our lives than others. The example he provided was the 23rd Psalm:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Who is the Lord? He is my shepherd.
Do I need to fear? No, for He is with me
#2 - Learn to hear the questions that God is asking you.
Not all passages are straightforward. Sometimes you need to read and look for the questions or the verbs that underline or motivate your heart. Dr. Powlison put it this way: "The human heart is an 'active verb' that's either relating to God or something else." Here are a few example verses he provided that help demonstrate this concept.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)
What are you anxious about? What should you be praying about?
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Are you trying to work for your salvation? Who or what are you boasting in?
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
What do you think about?
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. (Psalms 118:9)
Where do you take refuge? Who do you trust?
Pointing out the verbs in the passage you are reading will help you interact with it more and reveal the questions that God may be asking you.
#3 - Identify the big questions that haunt a person.
Finally, look at the questions that haunt a person. Dr. Powlison stated we too often may not even be aware that we are avoiding them. Questions like "can God really forgive me" or "how do I overcome this". These questions are personal to each of us and we can often find answers by first allowing yourself to ask the question, being open the answer, and applying the first two methods we discussed. For example, someone who is afraid of death may be avoiding questions regarding their mortality; reading the 23rd Psalm, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;" may help provide the answer.
Dr. Powlison ended this session with the following: "You will find when you ask the right questions that scripture is tailored to human need. There is no other source out there that can touch our core with it's answers like scripture." I hope you gain from this blog what I gained from this session of the conference, that the Bible is more than just a book we should read to learn more about God; it is a book we need to read to hear from God about ourselves.