What do you do when you’re finished reading a passage in your Bible? Do you read it once or twice, and then simply close your Bible and walk away because you don’t know what to do next? I’m becoming convinced a fair amount of people don’t read their Bibles more often because they don’t know how to.
Here are four simple questions to ask your Bible. The first three are the keys to what’s called “Biblical Hermeneutics” (how to interpret and correctly understand the Bible).
- What? (What does this passage say?)
- So What? (Why is this important?)
- Now What? (What should I do/learn because of passage?)
- How can I remember this?
Here’s what this looks like when applied to a simple, well known verse: John 11:35, “Jesus wept.”
This is pretty straight forward… it says that Jesus cried.
Jesus cried because his good friend, Lazarus died. He wasn’t some non-emotional person who was unaffected by losing a friend to death… he cried! I think it’s safe to interpret this as a demonstration that God actually cares about what happens in his children’s lives. Jesus didn’t bring everyone he cared about back to life (like he did a few verses to Lazarus), but he cares about what’s happening in our lives.
I’d probably journal something like, “Do I really trust that God cares about me? I know that Jesus died for my sins and all, but does that really mean anything to me personally when I’m going through difficult and painful situations?” At this point I’d probably turn to prayer or journaling and really dig through what’s happening in my life: the good, the bad, the ugly. Where do I see Jesus working in each of those areas? In some of those areas I might see Jesus working clearly, and in others I might just see him sympathizing with my pain and promising to give the the strength I need to endure that trial in a way that I would be a witness to others of God’s strength and faithfulness even in difficult times.
How Can I Remember This?
Do I journal about this? Do I memorize this verse so that next time I wonder “Where’s God in this!” I can remember, “Oh yeah, John 11:35, ‘Jesus wept.’ He does care, but he doesn’t promise to fix everything.” If you don’t find different ways to connect what you’ve been reading in the Bible with your life then you will soon forget what you’ve been learning…
I hope this is helpful!