How Can Scripture Be Personal?

The Near Horizon

Sometimes reading the Bible can feel like work. How do we move past the facts, context, and history from long ago and re-discover God’s Word for us today? Dr. David Powlison, counselor and faculty member at Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF), encourages Christians to make personal connections with God’s Word and hear how He speaks to them in everyday life. 

David Powlison has been doing biblical counseling for over 30 years and has written numerous articles on counseling and on the relationship between faith and psychology. His books include Speaking Truth in Love, Seeing with New Eyes, Power Encounters, and The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context. 

The man who wrote in to CCEF was talking about his wife who had been having a hard time reading Scripture since going to Bible college. Scholarly reading of the Bible had stripped her of a desire to read Scripture for personal blessing and encouragement. You may not be burned out of the Bible because of too much study in seminary, but there are likely other reasons you find yourself not wanting to read. As David said, our hearts often become dull to God’s Word. 

Is there something that keeps you from wanting to read God’s Word through Scripture? What is it?
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David said that Bible reading often gets forgotten on the far horizon. There is so much going on in the lives of the characters, places, and circumstances of the Bible ago that we’re not sure how to connect them to our lives today—the near horizon. Consider the stories of Abraham and Sarah, the prophets, and the early church. Sometimes it’s hard to read those Scriptures and see how God speaks to us today in the midst of them.  

Do you know a lot “about” the Bible? If so, does your knowledge sometimes keep you from making personal connections with Scripture? If not, do you ever feel overwhelmed by all that’s in Scripture and wonder how it applies to you? Why do you think it’s so hard to discover a personal message from God in the Bible?
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David said that a good approach to reading Scripture is to think small. You can take whatever “far horizon” information you have and simplify it to your own circumstances. David referenced the historical contexts of both Galatians and Philippians, for example, and said that your personal circumstances today have certain things in common.

Share a time when Scripture spoke to you very personally. What were your life circumstances? What were the Scripture verses? What did you learn about God during that time? What did you learn about yourself?
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Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)

6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Clearly the early church in Philippi faced some things that made them anxious. What are you anxious about these days? Write down some specifics.
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After listing some things that make you anxious, David then said you can look back to the Scripture. Philippians 4:7 says that God’s peace, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. It’s not an easy “fix,” but over time, reading and meditating on certain Scriptures like Philippians 4:6–7 will make it difficult to be distant from God’s Word. 

Has David's input on apply the Bible changed your view of Bible reading? If so, how? How will it affect your life this week?
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To rediscover God’s personal word for you in Scripture, start with where you are. Find smaller pieces to read—maybe even just focus on one verse—and don’t worry about why that Scripture was written long ago. What does it say to you today? Only when you can look at where God is in your life now will you allow Scripture to do what it’s primarily meant to do. 

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