Is the Word of God a Quick Fix?

When you come to God’s Word, are you looking for a “quick fix”?

I was struck by the following quotation, as I read through one of Pastor Colin’s sermons from the radio series The Anatomy of Faith:

God may be saying to you, “Instead of looking for a quick fix to the problems in your life, you need to establish a regular pattern of receiving my Word with faith, so that it will bear long-term fruit that you have not been bearing in years.” You never know what God is going to say to you, but you know he is going to say it through his Word. (Colin Smith)

This statement is striking because it pegs our human tendency to view God’s Word as a “quick fix.” I’ll bet that I’m not alone in wanting to hear God speak truth into my heart. But I’ll also bet that many of us tend to be drawn to Scripture thinking we need an instant solution for our troubles, rather than nourishing, consistent sustenance for our souls.

In effect, the Word of God becomes a means to an end, and—I admit—it’s usually a selfish end! Deliver me from circumstantial trouble. Show me the next step I should take in my own carefully crafted plans. Make sense for me of this enigmatic reality that makes up God’s sovereignty.

God’s Word can easily become information for our brains, rather than nourishment for our souls. Instead of genuinely loving and craving the Word, we can use the Word for selfish gain, hoping that it will give us a way out of worldly troubles and suffering.

Scripture becomes a “quick fix.”

So how can we learn to love God’s Word increasingly more every day? How can we avoid looking to Scripture as a mere “quick fix”? I think there are three key points in Pastor Colin’s statement above that will help us see how we can—only by God’s grace—grow in loving the Word:

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10 Bible Verses to Strengthen You As You Wait

The waiting game is the least fun game to play.

We’re averse to it because we like knowing outcomes. We’re especially averse to the waiting game when the outcome we’re anticipating is a positive one, as gratification is delayed. But waiting, no matter the context, tests our faith. It exercises our dependence on the God who initiates it for our good and his purposes—

Every day of waiting is another day of learning to trust him.

My husband, Brad, and I are waiting for our baby to come. Every hour of every day feels like pulling teeth, as we have zero control over the timing of her arrival. Every contraction gives me pause as I wonder, Is this the one? So I’ve grown discouraged over dashed hopes and the unfulfilled longing of meeting our child as another day passes…

What are you waiting for? Physical healing? A restored marriage? A promotion at work? A rebellious child? A cross-country move? The salvation of a beloved friend?

As I’ve been pouring over Scripture this week, I’ve asked God to teach me his character and ways during this time in-between, and I hope and pray the following verses will strengthen your faith while you wait, as they have strengthened mine:

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10 Promises for Your Bible Reading

Many mornings, weariness threatens to win.

Like a thick cloud, it opposes my time in God’s Word, obscures my desire to read, and keeps me from seeing the light of truth. My weariness might be circumstantial – a disappointment or an ongoing trial – or it may be physical – a long night of little sleep or the lingering annoyance of chronic pain.

I desire to dive into the depths of Scripture, but weariness wants to keep me in the shallows. I yearn to explore the endless riches of knowing Christ better, but weariness tempts me to apathy and tricks me into settling for less.

I need God’s help when I come to his Word. We need God’s help. Only he can overcome the shallows of our weariness and enlighten our clouded hearts with his truth. He actually promises to do these things when believers read their Bibles—

But do we trust his promises?

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Eight Reasons to Cling to Scripture in Suffering

Recently, a friend and I were interviewed on a radio show about the book we’d written on suffering. One of the host’s questions struck me: In the midst of the refiner’s fire, how do we keep from going through the motions? How do we have a sense of the abundance God promises us?

I immediately thought of Psalm 119:50: “This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.” And so I responded, “I have to be in God’s Word every day.”

Eight Reasons to Cling to Scripture in Suffering

Are you suffering right now? Would you say along with the psalmist that you’re afflicted? If your answer is no, this life guarantees that all of us will hurt in some degree before we meet the Lord. If your answer is yes, take heart; you are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who’ve known suffering in all its depths…and have endured.

Whether affliction has touched or devastated you, God promises in his Word to be your help, just as he did the psalmist. See in Psalm 119:49-56 eight reasons to cling to Scripture in your suffering:

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What Should I Do When I’m Struggling to Read God’s Word?

There are times when I read God’s Word…and the words seem to fall flat. I’m hungry to hear from God, eager to meet him in my Bible—yet nothing jumps off the page or particularly moves my heart.

This can feel like looking at a delicious meal, and wanting to enjoy it, but having no appetite for it.

Identify Your Motives

Such hunger and disappointment reveal two attitudes about the human heart, one we should pursue and be thankful for, and one we should confess and flee from:

First, our hunger and disappointment mean we desire God—this is good! We want to hear from him, because we love him and want to obey him. We desire to know the God who speaks and walk closely with him by opening the Scriptures.

But our hunger and disappointment can equally say we expect God to reveal himself on our terms and timing, according to our needs and feelings. If we’re not careful, our time in God’s Word can become less about knowing him and more about checking off a list of spiritual duties to make ourselves feel good.

Usually, our hunger and disappointment are some combination of both. So what can we do? Where do we turn?

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God Is Good, So Fight the Lies

A sneaking suspicion lingers in my heart. It never ceases to lie to me: “God isn’t good,” it says. “Wouldn’t you be healthy if he was?”

It often masks itself in other lies:

  • “What did you do to cause this pain?”
  • “You must not have learned your lesson yet.”
  • “Why doesn’t that person ever suffer? Why do you always seem to?”

The suspicion arises freshly when my body hurts in new or different ways. In the pain, it tempts me, fooling me into believing that maybe, just maybe, God isn’t as good as I thought—not in the moment at least.

Not toward me.

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22 Prayers for Your Bible Reading

Reading the Bible before praying is like putting the cart before the horse.

The proverbial horse is the Holy Spirit of God, who empowers and enlightens our Bible reading as we mine the depths of his Word. The proverbial cart makes up our willing eyes and hungry hearts, the Spirit-led choice to crack open our Bibles and pursue his everlasting truth.

The cart must be pulled by the horse; our efforts to read must be motivated and helped by God’s grace and power. Christians come to God’s Word willing and hungry because he first made us willing and hungry to receive—but only he can enable us to receive. This is why we ask for help before we start reading.

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#AnyGivenSunday: A Video Encouragement for the Election Season

I love serving at Unlocking the Bible. This video is just one of the many reasons why. It’s a compilation of 50 sermon clips from 50 pastors in all 50 states, from one particular day: Sunday, September 18, 2016.

If you’re discouraged heading into this historical election week, watch the five-minute film and praise God for the Word-filled work he’s doing around our country.

Then, if you feel so inclined, share it with others using the hashtag #AnyGivenSunday!

Five Reasons You Desperately Need Your Bible

Why is Bible reading important? Most Christians know they should read their Bibles. But often, our Bible reading can feel dry and insignificant. Why is it so important for us to read this book? What’s the urgency of it?

Ruth and Naomi’s story in the Old Testament reveals some urgent truths through illustration about why we need our Bibles right now and every single day. We should not bypass these truths because they are the difference between spiritual life and death; between conviction and apathy; between joy, peace, and strength and discontentment, anxiety, and fear; between knowing some things about Jesus and knowing Jesus intimately.

Here are five reasons that you desperately need your Bible, as illustrated in the book of Ruth.

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15 Bible Verses for Every Christian to Memorize

Memorizing God’s Word is a vital, joy-producing discipline of grace for every Christian—but where to begin? With so many thousands of verses to choose from, memorization can feel overwhelming, and we often don’t know where to start.

Why Memorize Bible Verses?

Many of us have asked several clarifying questions about this grace-filled discipline, like:

  • “What’s the point of memorization?”
  • “Why should I take the time and effort to memorize the Bible? Couldn’t I use that time to read it more deeply, or to pray?”
  • “If I can simply open my Bible and read God’s Word, then why should I memorize it?”
  • “If I’m bad at memorizing in general, should I still consider this an important pursuit?”

I’ve asked all of the above and have been deeply convicted by what God himself has to say about the vitality of his Word being sown within the believer’s mind and heart. Here are just three important reasons he gives us to memorize his Word:

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