Gather: February 2020
Welcome! We’re so glad you’ve gathered with us today.
February is the month for Valentine’s Day! Love is in the air and hearts of all shapes and sizes abound. It’s also the second month of the year and the last full month of winter. February can seem darker than the previous months of winter, despite increasing light each day. The holiday season has passed and some of us have broken lonely hearts, not hearts full of love.
The groundhog didn’t see his shadow this year, but the promise of Spring is still hidden behind gray clouds, long nights, and bare branches. The “new” of the year has faded, and many of us realize we’ve failed to keep our resolutions. The shortest month of the year can sometimes feel the longest.
Our hope for the February Gather is to encourage and equip you with a tool to help you read Scripture and glean what God is saying to your heart — whatever state your heart might be in at this time. We want to reignite your enthusiasm to read through the Bible: Connecting Heart to Heart with God.
Scripture has a lot to say about the heart. But what exactly does it mean when it talks about the heart and tells us to “seek the Lord your God with all your heart”?
Some teachers define the heart as the combination of our mind + will + emotion. These are the elements of our soul which define us and drive our actions. It’s who we are on the inside. The one unseen by others, and the one we often misunderstand, not knowing why we do the things we do.
God created us in His image, therefore we know He has a heart too. It’s His heart that drives Him to love us, pursue us, and lead us. His Word is where He shares His heart with us, and where He reveals our own hearts to us. Who He is and who we are before Him are important aspects of reading Scripture. This is the process of finding experiential knowledge of God. As He reveals, we are to act on what we’ve come to know about Him and ourselves by faith.
The Bible reading technique we want to share with you speaks to each aspect of our heart: mind, will, and emotion.
Reading through a chapter or section of Scripture can seem dry at times. It’s often why we fail in our one-year through the Bible reading plans. We are going to explore sections of Scripture one week at a time using a series of questions to help us process what we’re reading and listen for what God is speaking to our hearts — our minds, emotions, and wills.
Here are our three questions:
What are five things God wants me to know?
Reading with the intention of looking for, or listening for, what God wants us to know speaks to our mind. Our mind is the home of our thought life. What we think, dwell on, and believe, forms much of who we are.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God — what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2 NRSV
What are three things God wants me to feel?
Emotional responses are not something we usually look for in God’s Word. Often we don’t believe we have control over our emotions or may view negative emotions as sinful and something to deny. Yet God has much to say about our emotions as an integral part of our hearts.
A sound mind makes for a robust body, but runaway emotions corrode the bones.
Proverbs 14:30 The Message
What is one thing God wants me to do?
This question is asked in context of what God has revealed through the passage we’ve read. Our will, our desires or what we want to do, should be guided by God’s Word through what He wants us to know and feel. Another way to consider this question is: How does God want me to respond to what He has revealed?
Scripture is given to us to direct our lives, help us find our way in a dark world, and encourage us in the Way.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Romans 15:4 ESV
Understand, there are no right or wrong answers to these questions. God will have something unique to say to your heart depending on where you are in your life and what He is ready to reveal to you at this particular time.
Connecting heart to heart with God through these questions is a prayerful process. We’re not sending you on a mission to discover what you can find based on your own understanding. This process goes much deeper than gleaning information. We’re encouraging you to ask God: What do You want me to know, feel, do?
Let’s walk through a section of Scripture together. Asking each question, leaving room for silent prayer, then sharing what He has revealed.
We’ll start with Jesus’s teaching on prayer, what we know as The Lord’s Prayer.
Read Matthew 6:5-13 out loud.
Lord, what are five things You want me to know?
Continue to reflect on this passage silently for about five minutes, listening for and listing what five things God wants you to know.
Share what God wants you to know today.
- God knows what I need before I ask. I do not have to strive to make my needs known Him.
- I am to approach Him as Father, not only my Father, but our Father. He wants me to know I have spiritual siblings.
- As His child, I have a role, through prayer, to bring His rule (Kingdom) into this world.
- Prayer is not about the words we say or the length of time we spend talking.
- Prayer doesn’t even include words at times. It is about being in God’s presence.
Read Matthew 6:5-13 out loud again.
Lord, what are three things You want me to feel?
Continue to reflect on this passage silently for another five minutes, listening for and listing what three things God wants you to feel.
Share what God wants you to feel today.
- God wants me to feel connected as a member of His family. I am not alone and forgiveness is an important part of staying connected.
- He wants me to feel heard by Him.
- He wants me to feel a deep desire for the world to know Him and His ways.
- He wants me to feel relief that there is no secret formula to prayer that I can mess up.
- He wants me to feel secure in His daily provision for me.
Read Matthew 6:5-13 out loud again.
Lord, what one thing do You want me to do?
Continue to reflect on this passage silently for another five minutes or so, listen for what God wants you to do in response to what He has revealed.
Share what God wants you to do today.
- Trust Him.
- Continue to talk to God.
- Notice when I am drawn to His presence and listen.
This next week, read through Psalm 23 using the questions we’ve equipped you with today.
- What five things does God want you to know?
- What three things does God want you to feel?
- What one thing does God want you to do?
Come prepared next week to share what God revealed to your heart through Psalm 23.
Connecting with God heart to heart is the primary goal of Bible reading. It’s not about memorizing the order of books or being able to find a verse faster than anyone else or even knowing the historical context of Scripture.
Memorization of Scripture and knowledge of the Bible’s contents come naturally as your desire increases to connect with God through His Word. Historical context is important, but not solely for knowledge’s sake, it’s useful in coming to understand His heart better. Deeper study of His Word flows from a desire to love Him more.
Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him.
1Corinthians 8:1-3 NRSV
We’ll be praying for you to connect with His heart for you this week, we ask you to pray for us too.