Section 1
Lesson 3

Biblegateway
Scripture4All
 No More Struggling To Read The Bible    



          After being born again and baptized in 1988, I was given a King James Bible.  As it is with most, reading something written in the language of the 1600s just wasn't workable for me. But the bigger reason reading the Bible was such a challenge was because I still operated under the perpetual authority of my flesh.
          The flesh does not have any real capacity or aspiration for the Word of God. Indeed, scholars can read the Bible from their flesh because their intellect is a dominant strength within all the skill sets of their flesh. But they won't "get it" unless their soul is whole-heartedly seeking God and truth. Meanwhile, the majority of mankind, including many of the souls truly seeking Him, have a hard time picking up the Bible because the flesh which still dominates them has no connection to it. Even after being born again, if the flesh is allowed to maintain dominion, the believer will continue to resist the Word of God because it's the antithesis of the core desires of the flesh. This goes the same for those who are born again that have the strength of reading difficult material as a one of the skills of their flesh. If they aren't transformed by the Word they're reading, their flesh remains in dominion as well.
          That's why there's such emphasis, after you are born again, to commit to a genuine Bible-based church. Because the things of the flesh that most of us are entangled with upon entering new life will choke the life right out of us if we don't connect with a support, accountability, and solid, truth-based guidance system (and hopefully a good one, which is hard to find these days).
        I understand now that those who dive in deep, genuinely searching God and His Word passionately at the get-go and being transformed by it, had to be good soil to be able to begin consuming God's Word right off the bat like that. Unfortunately most new believers aren't good soil, so learning God's ways via Bible study, sermons and things like Sunday school are crucial because this begins the transformation process whereby the flesh is put down, and the spirit grows in Christ - as you yield to kingdom truths and His Spirit which is at work in you, of course.
          This steadfast alignment with truth, even in its beginning stages, brings your spirit into dominance and, with more of your flesh out of the way, your spirit's desire for understanding and revelation of God takes over. This is when the desire for reading the Bible, though it may still be challenging, increases. But without  training in the truth, without connection to accountability and support of other believers, the flesh is allowed to remain in charge. Therefore, unless Holy Spirit gets it across to you, or somebody teaches you that you must put your flesh down, any reading of the Bible is minimal at best.  Unfortunately, for me, it would be a couple of years before any Christians came into my life and I became a part of a solid Bibe-based church. So, my flesh ran my life.
          Concerning the dominance of the flesh, do you know how in the parable of the sower (Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8) some seed fell on the good soil and some fell on the path, some fell on rocky soil, and then some fell on soil among thorns? Well, we know that for the seed of truth that is planted on 'the path', the devil comes quickly to steal it (talk them out of it). The reason these people are referred to as a path is because nothing in them received the seed. Their hearts weren't really interested. Therefore, the seed lays at the surface where the devil can come snatch it away easily before their hearts do take interest and receive it. Then, the seed of truth that is planted in rocky soil is zealous for God and quickly grows a bit. But when troubles or persecution occur on account of their new faith (people insulting or rejecting them for it), the truth dies in them because they care more for being accepted than the truth of reality. They are rocky soil because their hearts were rocky, not able to receive the truth down deep where it could grow with vitality and resiliance to persecution or rejection. And finally, we know that the seed which is planted in soil among thorns does indeed grow, too... but it desperately struggles to thrive because, as I discussed earlier, their flesh and all its aspirations and burdens for this life, choke out their spirit's longing for the truth of the Word. The seed does take root because the person is resolved and fully received it deep in their heart. But as it grows, its all entangled with its desires for, cares for and issues of this life. This was my problem. The soil of my heart was tremendously tangled up with thorns. This, I believe, is the most common reason believers struggle to read the Bible.
          In my case, post traumatic stress, depression, and the massive chaos my soul was in - all its issues of pride, self-preservation, stubbornness, rebellion and idolatry, desperations, lusts, fears and longings - constituted a mega thorn system that polluted the life of Christ in me. And after working with countless people over the past decade, I see that these are the most common thorns in the lives of believers. If you relate to this, you'll find great insight and help with it in other teachings in the program. Just be sure to complete the entire program! It's imperative.
          Meanwhile, what I'm telling you is that if you struggle to read the Bible, it's because your flesh is still dominant. So, if you are connected with other believers, a solid truth-teaching church or Bible Study, and if you are receiving these truths that are taught and you're applying them with all your heart, yet you still struggle to read the Bible, then your flesh is likely still dominant on account of hidden thorns in you. And you must avidly work with God, desperately seeking Him to expose the thorns so that they can be burned up. Again, make sure you complete this program. Otherwise, you'll remain full of thorns which will continue to be the biggest reason you not only can't read the Word of God, but can't grow up in your kingdom of God identity. To the contrary, the sooner you identify the thorns and get rid of them through your submission and cooperation with Holy Spirit, the sooner your flesh will be hushed with your spirit increasing. At which time you'll instinctively be compelled to seek and find God by reading the Bible.
          NOTE that if the compelling for deeply knowing God and learning His truths ever diminishes or disappears, then realize that your flesh may be peaking and if you aren't on watch, this could lead you into a downward spiral.
          Now, based on my personal experience and AFTER the issues of the flesh are addressed (though these are an ongoing battle), there are some additional tips that will help. Because even while the flesh is out of the way, the Bible can be rather intimidating or overwhelming:
  • Start (obviously) with an easily understood version like NIV or NLT. But always ask the Lord to put emphasis on verses that may be mistranslated so that you can check into things. You can do this through a website called Scripture4all.org. It may not be perfect, itself, but has been a tremendous help to me. I have seen many things mistranslated in every version of the Bible, including the KJV. So, always ask Holy Spirit to put a check in your spirit if what you are reading is not what He meant.
  • Don't be locked into the idea that you have to read the Bible from cover to cover, or book by book. Don't be legalistic or ritualistic about it. It's supposed to be a source of life, not a system. So don't make a huge deal about "what" or "how" you read. At least not in the beginning. I found the way Holy Spirit got me into the Bible was by enticing me concerning specific topics. He'd put things on my heart that I wanted to understand. So, what I'd do is go search out that topic to find answers all throughout the scriptures. I wanted to know what the entire Bible had to say concerning the subject. I used a concordance back in the day to look up specific terms (now I just search online) and searched all the scriptures relating to the subject. One thing would lead to another and before you knew it, I was reading all sorts of things in the Bible. Topical studies have been the primary way I read the Bible - in conjunction with what God is speaking to me about. As I matured, I did select random books without a topic in mind and began reading the Bible that way, too, to saturate myself and let the Lord show me what He wanted me to meditate upon.
  • If you're not a "reader" because reading anything has always been a challenge due to focus struggles or something, there are plenty of audio Bible sources. Biblegateway is what I've been using for years. I even pull the passages up in multiple versions at once so I can compare. But some versions, such as NIV and KJV, have audible recordings so you can listen to the Bible. This is such an awesome thing! There are also MP3 players specifically loaded with the Bible - as well as CD's and DVD's. These were all very helpful to me during the years where my mind struggled to focus via "reading". 
  • Do not be legalistic about the idea that there has to be a set time to read the Bible. Certainly, if you are wired to follow a routine, by all means, do so. But I have found that when I'm seeking God with all my heart, I actually spend the days (be it locked away one on one or throughout the day in my coming in and going out), all over the place, back and forth, praying, worshiping, studying a topic, meditating on specific truths, etc. I have no system or structure to it whatsoever. One day I might worship God all day, or glean here and there from solid based teachers online. Another day, I might spend get caught up studying something specific in the Bible for hours adn even into the next day, trying to understand something like the "Full Armor of God" for just one example. Meanwhile, other times I might spend the day fasting and praying, meditating and listening to what God wants to tell me, writing it down, and then searching it out. Then still other days I might soak in full audio books of the Bible and talking to God about them, even searching specific things out more deeply as He highlights them.  Then another day I might do a smorgasboard of all of the above if I have time. The point is... Seek God, submit to His Spirit and He will guide you. You'll consume His Word all sorts of ways. It doesn't necessarily have to be a sheduled practice. It merely happens by default of wanting to know God and following His lead.     
          Keep in mind if you are struggling to comprehend, it is strictly by the power of the Holy Spirit you can do so. He is the one that teaches you and gives the understanding. So simply humble yourself and pray to the Father, asking for guidance believing you'll get it and you will!
          On a side note... If someone is telling you that you need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit before you can comprehend the Bible, the fact is if you were born of Christ, His Spirit was born into you. The baptism of the Holy Spirit that happened in Acts at Pentecost, ten days after Jesus ascended into Heaven, happened because Jesus had told His disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the power of God to come on them (Luke 24:49). They obeyed this, hanging together in the upper room, praying for ten days. Then, when the various Jews from all over came into Jerusalem to observe a holy day, that's when the Holy Spirit endued the 120 with power. Later, however, other converts were endued with the Holy Spirit instantly, upon being born again (Acts 10 & Acts 19). There's no explanation why the 120 required a specific baptism of the Holy Spirit while others did not. But I speculate that it's because the 120 were born again while Jesus still walked the earth. He'd always said the Holy Spirit (the comforter) cannot come unless He leaves (John 16:7). So, these believers weren't able to receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit til after Christ's ascension - which is what occured at Pentecost.
          The point being, if you were born again by believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came in the flesh, and that through His death and resurrection you have remission of sins and eternal life, then the Holy Spirit was given to you in that moment. If you are struggling to sense Him, His guidance, or His comfort, simply talk to the Father about this from your heart. Be real. Hold nothing back. Ask Him why you do not feel His presence. Trust me, He'll show you. That is, the Holy Spirit will. Just listen to that inner voice which promotes Christ. Press in. Be determined to experience what the Bible says you now have and who you are. Stop at nothing. Go after it. And I assure you, the wall between you and Holy Spirit will be torn down and you WILL hear Him. And He WILL help you with all things. Including reading the Bible! Amen.