Here I sit. . . Here I sit, surprised by a gift from God! As I write the first draft of this blog, it is Friday, April 17, 2020, the day after President Trump announced his plans to start reopening our country after the coronavirus shutdown. (Finished this today, 4/29/2020 : – )
So, here I sit, with back and shoulders stiff because my home exercises do not help as much as those at the gym and using the gym’s pool. Here I sit, wheezing although I am taking asthma and allergy medicine to fight spring pollen. I am mindful that asthma, and, uh, age, categorize me as high-risk but I am so grateful for God’s protection and knowing that, if I get the virus, He will take care of me. So, here I sit, day after day, like you, struggling to maintain a semblance of daily life BQ (before quarantine), frustrated with weight gained during extra sedentary time, battling negative thoughts more than usual because relationships with family, friends, and usual activities outside my home are changed.
Yes, here I sit, my hair REALLY interesting, like yours might be since hair salons are non-essential during our corona virus lockdown. Also, my living space is tangled up since I spend so much time here now and asthma has caused fatigue, another good excuse. Besides, housekeeping, much less house fluffing, was definitely NOT my gifting anyway.
Yet I am also, like you, I hope, trusting and relying on God, keeping my heart on Him all day long, proclaiming aloud my gratitude and dependence on His sovereign and loving nature, knowing this will end and that He is turning it for good all over His world.
So, dear reader, today while I sat at my desk, in my distinctly non-glorious surroundings, writing and digging deeper and deeper into the Word about a topic that keeps expanding, doing my writing work for God, Holy Spirit gave me a gift I want to share with you.
Digging deep is a gift. While writing about affliction (a booklet is coming!) and digging deeply into Isaiah 30 today, I froze and stared out the window. The ding! in my mind as the lightbulb went on was nearly audible. I realized that Holy Spirit had been able to explain what Isaiah 30 meant about despising God’s Word because I had stopped and dug deeply, pondering, meditating, thinking hard about what He meant in those verses, looking up definitions, using other translations, etc.
What a gift this gift was! God confirmed that my way of studying the Word, for myself, and the way I study when I write for Him, is the right way for me! I tend to be insecure, so having that thought as tangible as a white box with a huge Tiffany-blue bow on top was a true treasure.
So what is digging deep? I remember Bible study as a new believer. One of the first times I sensed Holy Spirit giving me understanding (little old me!) was late at night, after my daughter had been bedtime-storied three times. Stretching my exhausted, single-parent self on the bed, I resumed my Bible reading from the night before, with Proverbs 2:1-5:
- My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,
- turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding,
- and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,
- and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure (underline added),
- Then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. (NIV)
I remember staring intently at verse four. Then I rested the open Bible on my chest, the navy blue New International Version my Mother had given me when I found Jesus. I stared at the ceiling a long time. Thoughts rolled through my mind. “How do you dig for silver? And hidden treasure? Ah! You have to dig and keep digging. You do not find silver or hidden treasure without hard work.” I was thrilled that God would use His Word to speak to me directly. And it is just as thrilling each time, after all these years! How good God is to us!
That night, I understood the passage on a surface level (no pun intended) and have pondered it often, each time, gaining more insight. But today, it was like brand new, as I thought more about it.
Digging deep takes time and effort. You do not search for silver or hidden treasure by digging one scoop of dirt, flipping it to the ground, then walking 10 yards and digging another shallow scoop, and so on. Neither do you find treasure by walking over the land and scuffing the surface with the toe of your boot. You find treasures in God’s Word when you do like He says and search for it because it is covered up, hidden, and you cannot even see it, much less pick it up and claim it as your own and profit by it, until you do a lot of digging. And! You will not dig deep unless you have faith that something is there, waiting for you, lovingly prepared by God. And! you will not even be there trying to find treasure unless you have faith. It is all by faith!
God has an abundance of truth treasures stored up for each of us. Proverbs 2:7 says, “He hides away sound and godly Wisdom and stores it for the righteous (those who are in right standing with Him); He is a shield to those who walk uprightly and with integrity.” (AMPC)
How to search–DIG DEEP– for wisdom. Many beloved pastors, Bible teachers and other mature saints have found God’s gold and silver and shared it with us. How do they tell us to mine for wisdom in the Word? Below is a composite of suggestions that have helped me greatly.
 Before you begin, pray and ask God for wisdom (James 1:5-8) and commit your study time to God.
 Find a list of Scriptures about your biggest area of personal need.
 Dig deep and keep thinking and talking with the Lord as you dig.
 Meditate on and memorize the verses that Holy Spirit emphasizes for you the most.
 Collect your personalized verses in one place and review them regularly.
Five steps to dig deep. Below are details of the five steps that work well for me. If you have used other methods and want to share them, please email me by using the “Email me” tab on the website, or the comments section below this blog post.
Step 1: Before you begin, pray and ask God for wisdom (James 1:5) and commit your study time to Him. If you “commit to the Lord whatever you do. . . He will establish your plans, (Proverbs 16:3, NIV). As the NLT phrases it, “. . . your plans will succeed.”)
Step 2: Find a list of Scriptures about your biggest area of personal need (e.g., worry, anger, faith, etc.) To make your list, use a concordance, the alphabetized index in the back of most Bibles. You can also use the internet to find a list of Scriptures by typing into the search window, for example, “Bible verses about anger”. But BE CAREFUL! Your search results will include several internet addresses to click on that, in addition to listing Bible verses about your topic, also give someone’s ideas about that topic. Unless you know or can easily see that the individual shares your faith in the God of the Bible, just write down the book and verse and move on with making your list. Even if you do know that person is sound in the faith , it is far better to get your list, then go directly to the Word, God and you alone, and let Holy Spirit speak to you, personally, through the Word.
I also recommend that, unlike the dude in the clipart above, you make just a short list and then dig into the Word. Do not obsess about the list!
Trust God’s ability to communicate with you more than you trust your doubts about yourself. God will lead you to find just the verses you as an individual need. He is the same One who led Israel, who numbers the hairs on your head, who has written your name on His heart and Who holds the universe in place. If you seek Him with all your heart, He promises you will find Him. (Deuteronomy 4:29, Jeremiah 29:13). God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18).
Step 3: Dig deep and keep thinking and talking with the Lord as you dig.
- Read your first verse or verses slowly, over and over, and the verses before and after it that seem connected. Pay attention to connecting words, like: therefore, because, for, since, for example, that, then, in order that, so that, so, etc.
- Then, be still and just think about what it means. Ask God to show you. Take time for just you and God and His Word.
- After, and only after, you have paused to think, with God, about what the text means, use other tools. Look up cross references noted in the text. See what a Bible dictionary and an English dictionary say. Look up not only the definition but also synonyms and plug those words into the verse. Look up antonyms. If God uses figurative language, like comparing the work of Holy Spirit to the wind, as in John 3:8, pause and ponder what you know about wind or look it up. Ask God to explain, and He will, just as Jesus explained His parables to His disciples.
- Use commentaries and other study aids, but again, use caution because all writers are human. Commentaries and Bible handbooks can be a great help because they describe cultural context, customs, geology, archeology, church history, etc. So, do use them. I recommend the highly respected Halley’s Bible Handbook, which has sold more than 6 million copies. However, there is no substitute for trusting the God of the Word of God to speak directly to you. Ensure that you spend the bulk of your study time in the Word, rather than any other book, no matter how good it is. Use other non-Bible time to read those supplemental writings.
God obviously is The Supreme Teacher, He loves to teach, and He loves to fellowship with you, to be close to you. He wrote you a love letter, and He is longing to explain those parts that you do not yet understand. Why? It helps you, helps others, and it brings Him pleasure to be closer to You. And do not worry that the enemy might lead you to misunderstand. If you make mistakes, God will correct you. Imagine a young son asking his carpenter father to teach him how to build a bench. Would that not give both father and son great delight? And would not the father show his son the best way to hold a hammer and saw a board?
- Keep chewing on your thoughts about those verses, just like a contented cow in a field, working on her cud. Keep thinking and asking Holy Spirit to help you understand. If you seek wisdom, you will not be disappointed. In Proverbs 8:17 wisdom is personified as a woman who says “I love those who love me, and those who seek me early and diligently shall find me. Proverbs 8:17, (AMPC)
- And I urge you, dear friend, please do not say that this will not work for you because . . . you are not studious by nature, not able to hear God, lack time or self-discipline, not smart enough or any other flaming arrow of untruth (Ephesians 6:16) the enemy might shoot at your mind! Holy Spirit will show you personally how to dig deep into His truth, and you will know it when He does it. He will use whatever things are available to you and work for you.
Step 4: Meditate on and memorize the verses that Holy Spirit emphasizes for you the most. Digging deep is part of meditating, pausing, taking time, thinking about, pondering, and exploring what God means in a Bible passage or a word or a phrase so that you can apply it to your own life. Meditating brings blessings (Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:2, Psalm 105:2)
Meditating on God’s Word is part of loving Him with all our being. Deuteronomy 6 in the NLT is labelled “A Call for Whole-hearted Commitment.” I urge you to read the entire chapter. Moses reminds Israel that they are to follow God’s laws carefully so that things would go well with them and their children. Moses reminds them that the LORD alone is their God, then he says, “And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” (verse 5)
Notice that right after Moses tells them that, he then tells them to meditate on God’s Word all day long. That says to me that doing so is part of loving God with all my heart. Moses said the people must commit themselves wholeheartedly to God’s commands. They were to “Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your foreheads as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Verses 7-9). Then Moses goes on to talk about the blessings God will pour out on them.
Writing some of your personalized verses on index cards, taping them around your house and car and carrying them with you sounds, to me, similar to how Moses instructed Israel to keep God’s Word visible to their eyes all day long. Doing so tremendously blesses me and lots of others I know. Notice the picture of the hand and arm phylacteries above. They were certainly visible reminders, to the person wearing them and to others who saw them.
 Collect your personalized verses in one place, and review them regularly, so they do not fade away. I like to think of Bible study as the privilege of being in school with God as my teacher, for all my life. Throughout a school year, teachers lead students step by step through the basics of a subject, often pausing to repeat and review what was just taught. Why? Review and repetition imprints new knowledge more deeply into the mind. Quizzes and tests serve the same purpose because students are required to recall what they have learned, thus making a deeper neural pathway in their brain. Part-way through the school year, students have reviewed the basics so often that they know them. They can then build more knowledge on top of that solid foundation imprinted in their minds.
Digging deep brings innumerable blessings. Chapters 1 through 9:12 of Proverbs explain the benefits of wisdom and how to obtain it. Can you hear the earnestness of God’s heart? This discourse begins with God pleading “Come and listen to my counsel. I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise.” (Proverbs 1:23, NLT). Halfway through, God says “Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgement.” ( Proverbs 4:7, NLT). God summarizes this discourse on wisdom by saying:
“And so, my children, listen to me, for all who follow my ways are joyful. Listen to my instruction and be wise. Don’t ignore it. Joyful are those who listen to me, watching for me daily at my gates, waiting for me outside my home! For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord. But those who miss me injure themselves. All who hate me love death.” (Proverbs 8:32-36)
One last observation. Proverbs has 31 chapters. Each month has 31 days. Hmmm. . .