Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him” (John 3:1-2 NIV).
Friend to Friend
My study that morning was in one of the smaller books of the Bible tucked in the pages of the Old Testament. I had only read a couple of verses when one caught my eye. It seemed to leap from the page into my heart. Though I was certain I had read this story before, it felt new. I felt a tug to stop and dig deeper, so I did. That verse and the story it unfolded ministered to me for days.
I wonder if that’s how Nicodemus felt the night he met Jesus under the cover of darkness.
“Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him’” (John 3:1-2 NIV).
No doubt, Nicodemus understood the scriptures. He was a member of the Jewish ruling council and a man of faith. He had studied the scriptures his whole life, but something Jesus did or said captured his attention and he wanted more. He asked Jesus to shed new light on old and rich words. I love that Nicodemus didn’t ignore the nudge to go deeper. As a result, a whole new understanding opened for him in his faith life. It changed him.
What if we could encounter Jesus within the pages of our Bible?
I believe we can. Like Nicodemus, we can pause and ask the hard questions. We can ask the Holy Spirit to shed light on a difficult passage, or to make a story clear. Or sometimes God may desire to speak to us through His Word as a passage of scripture tugs at our heart.
Years ago, I learned the art of “slowing down.” Though I may have had a plan to read a certain number of verses, or even a certain number of chapters, I began with this prayer.
Holy Spirit, join me.
You see, God knows us well. He understands where we are, and what we are battling, and the questions we may have. Perhaps there’s something deeper He wants to show us. When we slow down and invite the Holy Spirit into our time in the Word, it allows for encounters within the Word.
If a verse or story captures our attention for any reason, instead of pushing on through with our reading plan, we stop. We listen. We dig a little deeper, believing that God will show us something familiar in a new way. Perhaps those words will guide, encourage, or show us His perspective rather than our own over a situation. Slowing down might mean that we read two verses but walk away with a deeper understanding. We may even remain in the same scripture or story for a day, or two, or three until it soaks over our heart, and thus our life. Sure, there will be days we read our chapters, and simply learn a little bit more about the gospel, and that’s good too. All of it is valuable.
But consider this. When we slow down, ask our questions, and invite the Holy Spirit to help us see the familiar in a new light, it opens the door for us to encounter Jesus right where we are.
Holy Spirit, help me to see Your familiar Words in a fresh, beautiful, new way. Show me ways to encounter Jesus within the pages of my Bible.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Jesus described the Holy Spirit as a Helper. That word means partner or to assist. Romans 8:27 reminds us that the Holy Spirit knows the heart of the Father for us, and He helps us to hear that heartbeat, in prayer, in the Word, and in our real lives.
Have you invited the Holy Spirit to join you as you study scripture?
More from the Girlfriends
Suzie’s brand new book, Prayer Starters: Talking with God About Hard Times is not a book about prayer, but a book to help you connect with God through prayer, right where you are, especially when you are in a harder season.
Each prayer starter springs from scripture, leading you to encounter Him in that challenging season.
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Oh, Suzie, this example of reading the Scriptures spoke to me, as a similar experience I had recently.
Mine was Luke 4: 4-7. What struck me was the evil one tempting Jesus with the phrase “I will give you all these splendid kingdoms & their glories–for they are mine to give to anyone I wish…” and in that same moment Jesus with the power of the Holy Spirit, wasn’t phased a bit, (verse 8) “WE must worship GOD, and Him alone.”
I had been praying and asking God “why Lord? Why can’t we see each other in the light of Jesus? Aren’t we ever going to have some kind of peace?”
God showed me this scripture to help me understand, just how much of the world is under control of satan. I understood, just how much it must pain the heart of our Lord to see us in such darkness.
I’m convinced we have to read the Scriptures with mindful awareness of the Spirit’s leading. You never know what passages, the Spirit will show us a “light bulb moment”.
Blessings to you in your continuing writing ministry.