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Why I read the Bible wrong.

June 17, 2010

Matthew 13:1-23 : 1 Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. 2 A large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore. 3 He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. 4 As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. 5 Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! 9 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” 10 His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?” 11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. 12 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. 13 That is why I use these parables,

For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand. 14 This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says,

‘When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. 15 For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’

16 “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it. 18 “Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: 19 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. 20 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 21 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. 22 The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. 23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

For years I have been a passionate advocate of Bible reading, encouraging Christians to read the Bible way more often, to open themselves up to be changed by God, to seek to draw closer into the presence of God.

I started this blog in response to a calling from God to go way deeper into His Word which has evolved into the following basic format:

– Ask for forgiveness for sin

– Pray that God would reveal His will through my time in the Word

– Dwell in the passage for a while, including looking at the greek and hebrew behind the passage

– Write up my reflection.

Well that is about to change.  After reading this passage and reflecting on my life right now I realise that I am missing one very big step.

Spending time most days immersed in the Bible is not enough.  I realised that I am one of those who, For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand. (v.15) The act of looking and listening, or of spending time reading the Word is not enough.  It is possible to stare at the words of the Bible and not see the power within them.

I realise that I am The seed that fell among the thorns which represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. (v.22) Yes I am reading the Word and being challenged and learning heaps but their is little to show in my own life of my time in the Word.  And the reason is spot on with what v.22 shares:  I am just too busy, focused on earning money, preoccupied with the challenges and worries of my life.  Producing my journey deeper blog is another task in a busy day, a box to tick.. and yet it needs to be the central task, reading and understanding the Bible needs to be way more of priority in my life.  And not in terms of time but in terms of seeking to really understand what God’s Word is saying for me.

Verse 23 reads:   The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

When I was at high school I attended many classes in Maths.  I would have sat through hundreds of hours of lectures, read a range of articles and books and undertaken lots of assessments.  And yet I really had no idea what was going on!  Just because I attended the classes in maths does not make me a mathematician. And then there was Theatre Arts, where I attended the same number of classes, did the same range of assessments and did very well with one of the scripts I wrote being used as an example for all students across state of Western Australia for years to come.  I also became part of the Western Australian Youth Theatre Company.  So what was the difference?

With maths I just turned up, tuned out and proceeded to be utterly bored.  With Theatre Arts I turned up, engaged fully and loved it!

I need to engage more with my Bible reading, I need to fall in love with the Word, with the process of learning of hearing and understanding the Bible, to the point that I yearn for my time with God, just as I couldn’t wait to do Theatre Arts at school.

So my heart really needs to change, I need to move from Bible reading being just another job to it being a joy.  And reading this passage is a massive wake up call, if I really want my faith to grow (thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times v.23) then I really need to want to change.

So today is a new stage, a new beginning in my journey with God, not only am I going to spend time in the Word, but I am going to add another step to my process by working out: how will I apply this learning to my life?

I praise you God!!  I am ready to change!!

God bless,

Mark
http://www.facebook.com/MarkBrown.page
http://twitter.com/RevMarkB

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Click on the play button below to watch the vid version!

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Yahweh’s Yarn in a Year : 1 year Bible reading plan

The portion for today is: 1 Kings 10-13; Psalm 69-71
To access the complete plan for the year click

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42 Comments
  1. thank you mark for your words. if only you understood how much you are really helping others that want the help and is open to learning new things and loving god just as much if not more than you. i again thank you. today at this moment for instance is one of my hardest moments and even i had to ask and remind myself of how far i have come along and how i even notice i have helped others in some way. i thank you for keeping me on my toes and into my word more than just sun, tues, and when i am in trouble. when i read the bible i look at the chapters as stories and i use my imagination as if i was just an ordinary person who just happened to be there in the background witnessing every story that is being told. thank you so much mark and i pray that you grow stroonger and higher in your word, works, and most of all the revelation of our savior. thankyou.

  2. Tiggy permalink

    Hi, having looked at your blog I think that to go deeper, as you say, you will have to be less ‘purpose-driven’ and learn to be still. Reading the Bible can be one more busyness activity. Words are not the only way that God communicates with us. I touch God most when I’m sitting on my little balcony gazing off at the distant hills and watching the sunlight play on the seagulls white underbellies and the movement of leaves. Sometimes I encounter God through the visual arts or music or my own songs or in children and friends. Sometimes in bread and wine. I have a purpose that God knows, but I’m not driven. God doesn’t drive us; He draws us to Him. You don’t have to keep striving and striving, doing and doing. God just wants us to BE with Him so that the love arises which will guide our actions.

  3. Dear Mark,
    This is surprising to hear that you as well,are experiencing this same feeling as I am!
    I thought that I was the only one whose seed fell wrongly!
    Please pray for the same changes to occur in my life so that growth may start and increase and I may glorify GOD ,and live a victorious life in CHRIST!

    Thanks for “THE JOURNEY”,
    and prayers
    GOD bless,
    Donnie

  4. sheryl permalink

    Awesome!

  5. I understand what you are going through – then I hit myself on the head (V-8 style) and remember to pray first. I tell God that I want to know everything about him. He just snickers and says “You can never know everything about me. But, I will tell you this.” When I ask for his wisdom – reading the Bible is like peeling the layers of an onion; total revelation.

    Love in Christ

  6. May H permalink

    Someone from the Gideons once came to our church, dressed as James, and proceeded to perform the entire book of James (or was it first John?), quill in hand, desk with book in front of him, pacing as though he was thinking while he quoted the entire book from memory. It really impressed me–because I love theatre too, was dry in my scripture time too, and now I am working on memorizing my favorite book as though I was doing the same. I find it more inspirational than just reading, trying to absorb and stay awake 🙂

  7. Go for it, mate! Thats why at the end of each podcast, study, teaching or sermon I preach I always ensure there is application! Looking forward to the “new” Mark bible bloggings! Bless ya, bro…

  8. Jennifer permalink

    What a wonderful insight! I struggle with this as well. I love learning about God’s word and studying it, etc. I’m even going to Bible College! I’m also in ministry and love working for God. But just as Paul says, if I have all these things and not love, I have nothing! It slaps me in the face when I read what God has to say, and then I forget about my neighbor. I get so busy doing things, even good things, like church things, and I forget to apply what I’ve learned to my life. Thanks for the eye opener, it makes a huge difference to see someone else write it out!

  9. Barbara permalink

    Your insights are very wise and seem to be very timely. This afternoon I was reflecting on my attitudes, my emotions and my life overall. All I could think about was how toxic my life is at the moment. Toxic attitutudes, toxic emotions, etc. That was when I decided that ver the next couple of days I am going to take personal detox days. No tv, a break from the computer, the phones turned off and just turn my heart towards God.

    Very in line with what you are talking about. The thorns, the worrries, the weights of the world are toxic to us. The old adage “Garbage in Garbage Out”. It truly is time to refocus, regroup and detox the heart, the mind, the sirit and the body.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Barbara

  10. John Francen permalink

    Brother Mark, you probably know this, but I would like to add a couple of things.

    #1 The Bible does not come alive without prayer. It must be read prayerfully so that we are communicating with the Lord and He is communicating with us.

    #2 Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit, (or Holy Ghost) to teach us all things. When I read the Bible, I ask the Holy Spirit to teach me, give me understanding and reveal all to me that God wants me to receive from the verses that I am about to read.

    God bless you. I can see that He is using you to minister His love to others quite effectively. May we learn and grow together and become a mighty army for the Lord!

    In the love of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, John

    UNWORTHY
    By John Douglas Francen

    All I have to give you, Lord,
    Is what you gave to me.
    I am really nothing,
    But what You made me to be.

    The fullness of the earth is yours,
    You own everything,
    The cattle of a thousand hills,
    And the wealth of every king.

    The only righteousness I claim,
    Is that of Your own Son,
    Not by my own worthiness,
    But because of what you’ve done.

    I do not even understand,
    Your wonderful amazing grace,
    Nor why some glorious day,
    You’ll let me see Your face.

    I only know a Holy God,
    Who cares so much for me,
    Is worthy of all my praise
    Both now and eternally!

  11. Justine permalink

    I wanted to say it is wonderful that you realize that the Word is for more than reading. It is ment to change your life and the way you live it. I don’t formally ask God to teach me. I expect that He will. I include Him in most all my day. Talking to Him about everything. When I read the Bible I just ask what this means and wait for an answer. Sometimes I get one right away and sometimes it takes years to get the answer. He is my best friend!

  12. brett permalink

    Very words of wisdom

  13. AMEN…..glad I took the time to read this blog post. you are (as you say) ‘spot on’! 🙂 God’s blessings be upon your obedience!

  14. Hi Mark…Thanks for the post today, it was very insiring. I just wanted to let you know that I referenced your post in my blog today, with a link. If you would like me to remove it, please let me know and I will. Otherwise, thank you!

  15. Nicky permalink

    You said:

    Verse 23 reads: The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

    …So my heart really needs to change, I need to move from Bible reading being just another job to it being a joy. And reading this passage is a massive wake up call, if I really want my faith to grow (thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times v.23) then I really need to want to change.

    I don’t believe the Lord is talking about your faith growing in this passage. (Not that he wouldn’t want it to…. assuredly that would be a wonderful thing). He actually says truly hearing and understanding God’s word will produce a HARVEST of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted! This harvest is produced when you truly understand God’s word tells us to be seed sowers….we are to be so strongly rooted in Christ that we are consumed by reaching those that are lost (just as the apostles were) and planting the seeds of faith that only God can germinate into more born again Christians (of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!).

  16. LYNN SICARD permalink

    THANK YOU MARK FOR OPENING UP IN SUCH A REVEALING WAY AS YOU DID TODAY. I UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU AREAYING. THERE WERE MANY TIMES WHEN I READ MY BIBLE BUT IT WAS JUST WORDS AND I READ IT BECAUSE I FELT OBLIGATED TO DO SO. I LOVE TO READ MY BIBLE, DON’T GET ME WRONG, BUT THERE ARE TIMES WHEN MY HEART JUST ISN’T IN IT. AND IF MY HEART ISN’T IN IT I WILL NOT GET ANYTHING OUT OF IT. I NEED TO GET BACK TO MY 1ST LOVE AND PRAY BEFORE I OPEN GODS WORD FOR UNDERSTANDING AND WISDOM. I WAS GETTING SO FUSTRATED BECAUSE I COULDN’T REMEMBER WHAT IT WAS I HAD READ. I STILL CAN’T REMEMBER THINGS THE WAY I’D LIKE TO, BUT GOD DOES HELP ME REMEMBER THINGS WHEN I NEED TO. SO THANK YOU GOD FOR ALLOWING ME THE HONOR AND PRIVILAGE OF READING YOUR HOLY WORD WHENEVER I WANT TO , AND FOR BRINGING THINGS TO MY REMEMBERANCE WHEN I NEED THEM ,WETHER IT’S BECAUSE I NEED TO BE LIFTED UP, OR I’M WITNESSING TO ANOTHR WHO NEEDS TO BE ENCOURAGED AND LIFTED UP. AND AS SOON AS I’M SETTLED IN TO MY NEW HOME AND CAN FIND THE THINGS I NEED I PROMISE I WILL START WRITING TO YOU AGAIN.

  17. Pam Bailey permalink

    Thanks for the post…I’ve been avoiding reading the Bible, for some reason…no patience, short attention span, preoccupied with other things….and I miss the time when I looked forward to reading the Bible every day…I’ll start praying for God to help me focus on his word….thanks so much for your insights, Mark!

  18. Ajikashile Gbenga permalink

    I Love the Post. It really makes me to know my status.

  19. Arun permalink

    ty Mark, your vurnerable attitude was just fantastic, even when you preach to many, your own shortcomings teach us a lot, when u teach from the heart with Holy Spirit typing, o there is no greater thing!

    Its the Holy Spirit(spirit of truth/comforter) which does everything now, since JESUS is in heaven, so for me when I get bored or something, I have to check with the Holy Spirit and instantly love for word of GOD comes alive! not only that reading becomes sooo enjoyable that you wouldn’t want to leave the bible! like for instance you read one passage of scripture and Holy Spirit gives you 5 another scriptures from bible that says the same thing or relates with that scripture for better /more knowledge of what that scripture is actually saying.

    I didn’t read the word for so long, and the result, enemy nearly destroyed me, it was the grace of GOD that saved me, coz enemy came like a flood and I had no scripture to stand on, I mean I didn’t know many scriptures and believed the lie of devil!

    So anyone who is dealing with any kind of opression/battle, stand on the word, believe me JESUS used it against enemy and he was quiet, U use it against your battle, enemy will flee, believe me it works! believe only the bible, nothing outside!
    ty Sir Mark again, great blessing I came to this post! great revelation, ty for helping me! GBU Sir

  20. Cristi Mackey permalink

    Mark you are a vessel for the farmer’s seed. You are spreading it on fertile ground. The fact that your blog has so many followers shows that people are thirty for God’s word. And I am sure I am not alone when I forward your blog entry via email to many others, so yeah your seed is being returned thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times at least. Keep up the good works!!

  21. Denise permalink

    Mark, have you read Jesus, Interrupted by Bart Ehrman? Just wondering your thoughts on that? He writes about the lost books and contraditions between the gospols..

  22. Enid permalink

    Hi Mark:
    I can honestly say that I can totally relate to this…I believe that the issue here is the way in which we care for and cultivate that seed. I also find myself caught up in the worries of my life and I forget that I have a most powerful God backing me up and that I should let go of my fears and dedicate my life completely to God and to doing that which God has brought me here to do…

    May our heavenly Father continue to bless you in many ways…May he continue to fill you with understanding of his word so that you can continue to be of service to Him and those of us, who sometimes find ourselves lost in our walk with the Lord…

  23. Kim permalink

    Thank you for this message today. I too am but a seed looking for Gods fertile soil.

  24. Thanks for your openess Mark….it comes from a special heart of generosity…such a blessing in this world.

    Mark often I hear an urgency in your words, almost a forging ahead, a pushing thorugh…which i think is in response to your greatest desire- “to be obedient/to live in Gods will”
    Sometimes you appear so hard on your self, and what is your generosous heart towards all of us is not generous to your own self.

    Gods word is so important to many of us, but what if your access to it was gone tomorrow…then we would be relying only on our relationship with God and all the seeds that had been planted through the seeding years.
    Sometimes closing the books, or changing churches, stepping down from ministry, turning of the podcasts, stopping the thinking [not just for a day but for a time] allows us to be quiet and receive in a new way and in turn activate our faith afresh, I believe it brings a new liberty, a new promised land.

    I believe you have a heart of very fertile soil, you couldn’t have testified without it…but sometimes force feeding the seed doesn’t bring the harvest sooner.

    You have had huge change this year, changing countries, working identity has changed and knowing whats next must be stressful….
    but as you have now crossed the Jordan and find yourself in Gilgal….its good to circumsize your heart again, loose the cords and allow time for healing, a time of receiving too.
    God is going before you into a new land…he has annointed you with a gift of leadership and these writings, journeys, studies, grapplings and preparations are like twelve stones left as a testmony of this time of your life…
    but ‘non word’ mediations will prepare your heart too….enjoy the silence and the view. I love reading the word, it is living water to my soul, but some days i just need Jesus not the pages..

    Yes the cyber community is blessed by you and your journey…but when you sit next to somone on the train tomorrow that perosn will be too beacause this blog started as a journey to go deeper…and you have!

    Be at peace Mark, thanks for your honesty…its not just personal…its global!
    Continue to work out your faith with fear and trembling…but also have believing faith in God – he is the hope of your future calling…
    Study Joshua 4 &5

  25. Mary Malin permalink

    Thank you for another great insight into God’s Word. I imagine most of us at one time or another get to feeling this way about our reading time. It isn’t easy to put away all that is going on in our lives, but with God’s help we realize that we must give it all to Him, trust in Him and rest in Him. Application of what God’s Word says to us is the test. Love for Him and one another is one application that should always come first. Mark your teachings are wonderful and I pray that you realize you are applying God’s Word through your blog and sewing many seeds in this way. You are loved, be Blessed!

  26. I went back and listened to the video blog…..WOW what a difference!!!
    I wasn’t reading it thinking about your journey….God spoke straight into MY journey…today I was so busy i felt crippled…praying on the run…so busy doing what? i was so busy trying to earn money and fit parenting and other responsibilities in the allocated time too…how does it happen, before we know it we are overwhelmed with a world focus even though we dont want it…

    thanks Mark…keep going deeper and keep taking us with you

  27. David permalink

    So much purpose in such a small amount of words and so little the time we have to act upon them. You Sir are Blessed in the word of God and I thank you for the rope that myself and others, I’m sure, are holding on to!!

  28. Thank you for your transparency. God bless us all with a fresh hunger for His face and His Word!

  29. Ron Goss permalink

    Brother Mark, thank you your reflection on not just reading the Word but falling in love and absorbing the Word. But Jesus said its even more than that. Its DOING the Word. God bless, Ron

  30. Jesus is the Word. Reading the Bible is the same as having a conversation w/ God. Or rather, reading God’s mind. Looking through how He set up this world we live in. Not only the trees & other creation, but also how we live. Reading about how the Jewish nation came to be & all they went through til they came home from Babylon to rebuild the their precious temple. Then reading about Jesus from the time of His birth to the time of His death & resurrection. Then reading of the apostles journey’s. All of it is like reading God’s diary or journal. He shares w/ us His likes & dislikes. His trouble w/ His people. Hi slove for His people. All getting to know our precious Jesus better. It’s so obvious that the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament. I can’t get enough of it! It’s my strength when I’m weak. My joy when my heart is heavy laden. Being filled w. His Spirit has helped a lot. It makes a huge difference in every aspect of my relationship w/ Jesus! :)(:

  31. Mark, I wonder if you are pleased with your position in the body ? At times you seem un’easy with where you are, and where ” you ” continually need to move on. Please, don’t miss my intentions ( Spirit lead ) of looking from a different perspective. Your desire to do move tires me, and I truly wonder if the pease of our Father which surpass’s all understanding has a strong pull on you from the inside out. There was a time when I preached in prison’s, and spoke at Full Gosple businessmen meetings, minister in jails all over Florida, and so much more that would take to much of your time to tell ! My veiw may not agree with you at this point, but the question to ask’d is this…No matter what state we are in, are we content. Do you believe the Father know’s when you have Peace ? Your brother in Christ, Louis Wilbanks AKA coolchillipepper@nefcom.net

  32. Daniel permalink

    Amazing reflection! I’ll be praying for you to be changed and amazed by a new outlook on God’s word

  33. Dutch Hofstetter permalink

    I needed this from God. Too many times I read God’s Word the Bible grudgingly, and I don’t like doing it. I sometimes think it’s boring, but I have just been blind, I need God to take the scales off my eyes, and wake me up. I need to read God’s Word the Bible, and I need to study God’s Word the Bible. I need to believe God’s Word the Bible, I need to trust God’s Word the Bible. God gave us His Word to read and believe. God gave us His Word so we can be guided in the light. God’s Word says, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’. So, Jesus Christ is the Bible, when we read God’s Word the Bible, it’s like the Lord is speaking directly to us.

  34. Well said. Something I too need to focus on.

  35. Jefro permalink

    Mark, you are right on track. May I suggest you find a soul winning church and spend a few days soul winning? Sharing God’s love with homeless or those in need? Maybe those at death’s door? My church in Richmond VA is a soul winning and discipling church. It, or a church like it is just what you Bro. Check us out at: TheROC.com
    Keep in the word and prayer – then share with someone in need.
    Love
    Jefro
    Eph 2:10

    • As christians we often become too familiar with God’s word hearing from the pulpit day day out; so the revealation part is never really sought after. May God help me to have a revealation each time the word comes forth.

  36. As christians we become too familiar with God’s Word failing to seek after revealation each time we read or hear the Word. May God always feel us with understanding and revealation as His Words comes forth.

  37. Julie Dilworth permalink

    Well, I believe that because the Bible is God’s living word, you get out of scripture what you need in that moment. I have been doing your read through the Bible in a year and I am behind, but it is amazing how some days it is exactly what I need for something going on in my day or in my life. Even though I have read so many of these passages over and over again, they hit me in a new way because of the situation I am in. I have to say, I think you are reading the word correctly – and it is doing its job in you – making your heart yearn to know Him more.

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