Updated: May 31, 2019
What Are You Doing God?
Have you ever asked that question? The prophet Jeremiah did. He spoke for God at a time when idolatry and sin were rampant in Judah. He faithfully warned of God’s coming judgment, but he was ignored, insulted and incarcerated. The Babylonians besieged Jerusalem just as Jeremiah had predicted.
That’s when God surprised Jeremiah: “You’re cousin is coming to sell you a piece of land.” Sure enough, the cousin came to the prison and sold him the land. But what good would it do Jeremiah while he rotted in prison in a city besieged by enemies?
Jeremiah did what God wants all of us to do when we encounter things we don’t understand in His Word — ask straight questions. (Read his prayer in Jeremiah 32:16-25).
God’s response is beautiful: “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for me?” Vs 27. He then explains to Jeremiah that the Babylonians will destroy the city, but restoration will come. “They shall be My people. And I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And fields will be bought in this land…” Vss 38-39, 43.
Invited to Conversation
God welcomed Jeremiah’s questions! He didn’t reprimand him, or tell him to just trust Him. In fact, the next thing God told Jeremiah is one of the most wonderful promises in the Bible.
“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3
God wants you to ask Him questions! Not only that, He will show you “great and mighty things, which you do not know”! He wants to increase your understanding!
Why? Because He wants to you to know and understand Him. Jesus came to our world specifically to reveal God’s character to us and invite us into friendship. “I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15.
Good conversations lead to good friendships. That’s why Jesus wants to “come and dine” (Revelation 3:20) with you. He longs for unhurried conversation with you so that you can ask Him questions and listen His answers. He also wants permission to ask you questions.
A God-Led Conversation
Did you know that Jesus asked way more questions than He answered when He was here on earth? The gospels record Him asking over 300 question and answering less than five. Why?
Because He wanted to engage the mind and heart of His listeners. Look at just four of the questions Jesus asked:
- “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26
- “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Mark 4:40
- “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Luke 6:46
- “If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?” John 8:46
Jesus used questions, stories and explanations, to lead His hearers to examine their own lives and apply the truths they were learning. He wanted them to have a greater understanding.
Jesus asks you and I questions today for the same reason. He wants to give us a greater understanding. So don’t shy away from His questions, especially the difficult ones. He loves you and only wants the best for you.
Principles for Engaging in Conversation with God
Why not begin a conversation with God today? You’ll be amazed at how the daily practice of these principles deepens your friendship with your Creator and expands your understanding:
Pray: Begin your Bible study with prayer for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Give Him permission to ask you questions. Then as you encounter things you don’t understand in your reading, present them to God in prayer. When you sense Him asking you a question, take time to prayerfully consider your answer and what God is asking of you. Your Bible study time will become an intimate conversation with God as you pray your way through the Bible like this.
Read to Learn: Open your Bible and read carefully, systematically and contextually. As you do this, think about what you are reading and jot down any questions that come to mind. “Approach [the Bible] in the spirit of a learner. We are to search its pages, not for proof to sustain our opinions, but in order to know what God says.” Ellen White, Education, p. 189.
Think like a Journalist: Ask the 5W’s and the 1H (Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?) and look for answers to them in the context of the passage. This is especially useful in studying Bible stories, but can be applied to all parts of scripture. Here are some samples of questions you might ask: Who was this written for? Who is it about? When & Where was this written? What is the historical, cultural, political, etc. setting? What does it say? What did it mean for the people who heard it at first? Why did the Bible author write it? What was God trying to communicate? How does this passage relate to what comes before and after it? What is God telling me today through this passage? How does this apply to my life? How do I need to change to line up with what God has shown me?
Study: Many times the answers to your questions will be found through careful Bible study using the many tools available for Biblical research.
Write: Is God asking you a question about something you read in the Bible? Write it down. Do you have a question? Write it down. This will help you remember and process the questions so you can answer them.
Slow Down: Realize you are engaging in a conversation with God that can’t be rushed. Listening to God’s questions and asking Him questions is a natural process that takes time. This is why it is so important to have a space and time set apart for personal Bible study.
Ask Others: Find out what answers other believers have found. Search Bible commentaries. Read books about the Bible. Join a small group Bible study. Talk to a pastor or trusted, Godly friend. But always remember to do your own study first and check everything against the Word of God.
Trusting God for Answers
You may often feel you have more questions than answers. That’s ok. God doesn’t always answer our questions immediately. Some questions He may not answer until heaven. But keep thinking, praying, studying the Bible, and asking God the questions that trouble you. In His perfect timing, God will answer every question you need answered. Until then, you can trust that He is “redeeming your life from destruction and crowning you with lovingkindness and tender mercies.” Psalm 103:4
Ready to apply these principles? Prayerfully study John 8:31-36, jotting down any questions that come to mind. Look for answers to the sample questions listed above. Make sure to invite God to ask you questions too. What answers will you give Him?
Note: This devotional is part of a 10 part series on 5 Keys to Enjoying God’s Word. If you have not already, please take time to read the devotionals in the series. How to Turn on God’s Alarm Clock, Finding a Quiet Place Alone with God, Faith – Essential Preparation for Bible Study, A Willing Heart for Bible Study, How to Read the Bible, and Tools for Bible Study, Conversation with God, How to be Transformed by God’s Word, God’s Seven Tools for Remembering, Why God Wants You to Share What You Learn. Also, please see the related video devotionals with Pastor McKenzie.
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