4 Things You Must Do Before You Read The Bible — Or Any Book For That Matter!
“Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.” Proverbs 24:27 NIV
I love mentorship, coaching, discipleship, whatever the name, I love the relational interaction.
I asked a man I disciple what this verse meant to him. This verse is from the book of Proverbs. The book of Proverbs was written by Solomon. Solomon was the son of David, the 2nd king of Israel. He was one of the most wealthy individuals to grace this earth. I found an article from MSN Money, in 2016, that his worth today would be around $2.2 trillion. But more than wealth, Solomon was known for his wisdom. Proverbs is a book, written about principles that are used in everyday life.
I’ve read Proverbs over a hundred times. I love it. It fills me up. There is no book, I’ve ever read, that even compares to how much I’ve read Proverbs. I’ve read Rich Dad Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki, at least 7 or more times. I only say this to show that it is no joke. I really do love Proverbs.
So back to this verse. Whenever I ask a question about a verse, I usually have thought a lot about it myself. A lot of times, I’ve read a verse like this and just passed right by, taking no personal application. That’s why I’ve found it so important to read it so many times. This verse specifically, I’ve read so many times it’s ridiculous.
My buddy said, “Still need to focus more on the Scripture and what it means…”, so that tells me he needs direction in how to understand Scripture more and not just get bored and stop because he doesn’t understand anything.
So here is my list of items that I use to help me understand the Bible a bit better! It’s probably applicable to reading any book for that matter, when you’re trying to better yourself.
# 1. Prayer. Ask the Lord to tell you something while you read
This whole thing is about relationship with the Lord for me. Those of you that don’t have a relationship with Christ, think of it as talking to yourself and having a great conversation with yourself!! The last time I looked a relationship isn’t just me talking to someone. It is me talking, but also a lot of listening. It’s also asking. We ask our friends to do things all the time, so why not ask the Lord!! Then, we need to listen! Trust me, I fail at this all the time, but I try, try and try again. I’ve gotten better and better at it over the years, but it takes consistent discipline and practice.
# 2. Intent. Am I reading just to read? Or am I intent on learning and gaining wisdom?
Anytime I read, I have to make a choice. Am I going to just read this book, or am I going to focus and really try to get something out of it. I have to choose. It is personal, it is between me and myself, no one else can be responsible. It is really about discipline…again. Yep, that good ole discipline comes up a lot in life. So intent is very important.
# 3. Awareness. What is happening in my life right now?
This is an unique one. Awareness about the present. What is going on in my life? What is happening with people around me? Where am I at in my relationships, business, personal finances, all the things that are going on in life at the moment? It is taking the practicality of the present and having that in the back of my mind while I read the Scripture.
It’s really about being honest with myself. Where do I feel I need work in my life? It doesn’t mean I have to be in a desperate situation at the moment, it is about bettering myself for those around me. My spouse, my kids, my parents, friends, coworkers, employees, the barista at Starbucks! It’s about being a bit wiser and growing everyday. It’s about exercising my mind.
# 4. Application. How is this going to affect me and/or others?
Application is the key. This is so important. When I read, as I included the verse above, I bring all of these into play. When I first read this verse today, and yes, this was in my reading for today. I didn’t go search it out and make it some special thing. It was a verse I had in my planned section of reading.
I had already prayed before I started reading. Personally, I say to the Lord, “Good morning Lord, I hope you slept well…wait you probably don’t sleep, but anyways, I hope you are well, and I just wanted to thank you for allowing me to wake up and have another day to serve you. I’m about to read your Word and I want my heart open to what you have for those around me. Help me be in your will and encourage those you know need encouragement today. Show me what you want me to see, help me be the best, that you created me to be. Love you Lord. Amen.”
Literally, that is what I normally pray or some iteration of that. Then I jump in. I already prayed and asked, I had intent in my prayer, which helped me focus, then I dove in. My reading plan starts with the New Testament. If you don’t know what that is, it’s the part of the Bible from the point of Christ’s birth and after. It is letters to churches and the gospel message of Jesus. Randomly today, mine was in the book of John. I follow a plan that lets me read the Bible in a calendar year. I try to read it in about 250 days.
Then, it goes to either Psalms or Proverbs. Then it ends with the Old Testament. The Old Testament is everything before Christ. Psalms is a book mostly written by Solomon’s father David. The greatest king that Israel ever had.
So, at the point I was in Proverbs, I read it fairly slow, cause I’m purposely looking for application, and aware I have a need to learn. The verse I posted popped up. I don’t know why it drew me, but it did. So, now it’s time for me to break it down for me….let you into my crazy ADD mind!
“Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.” Proverbs 24:27 NIV
First, work is work. There is no weird translation. When Solomon says work, that’s what he means. A job, a business, a place of employment. In his day, the people tended fields. He also built stuff. He built a huge palace, he also built the Temple that took a combined 20 years to build. If any building took me 20 years to build, I’d lose my mind! But this is what work means. Labor.
What’s funny about this verse, he doesn’t say to build a house and live in it and then get a job. He talks about, go get work done….first. Get all the leg work done. Don’t go build the mansion.
See, King Solomon had his father do a lot of work prior to him becoming king. David conquered all the nations around him. He made all of them pay tribute. He made agreements with certain countries to bring in wood, spices, all sorts of commodities, tons of gold, silver and what not. Solomon, took what his father had done and did it better. He went further. He prepared and made sure he had everything he needed before he started building. He laid the groundwork, prepared the way and then began to build.
I find this applicable in a couple of ways. First, the way we spend our wealth or lack thereof. Many times we get the new job, the new pay raise, the awesome bonus, and it’s instantly going to a bigger and better life of stuff. Many times that means a bigger house, better cars, cooler stuff! Personally, I see this happen a lot, and instead of getting the whole field in order, we get the first row all plowed, ready to go, and then drop what we’re doing and jump way ahead of our means. We are acting as if the entire field is ready, when only one row is good to go. We need 100 rows to have long term success.
I look at this verse, as a verse on patience. It speaks loud and clear to me. And it brings up a very applicable lesson that is very pertinent to this situation in the verse. At the end of 2007, we had an economic crash. The recession hit. The market began to go down. Well, being a young man, in my twenties, I felt I needed to make a name for myself. What better way than working with my father and building a big house, you know, because I was a builder. It only made sense.
I talked my Dad into buying a piece of property in University Place that could be subdivided. One of the lots would be where I was to put my dream house. This was in the beginning part of 2008. We all, I mean a lot of developers thought the market couldn’t go down much further than it already had. Well, we were wrong. Everytime I looked, the market was going down. Did that stop me? No, I was going to build that house. I was making a whopping $100,000 a year and I was going to have that 3,900 square foot house, with a full view of the water at 28 years old. So I did what every builder would do, I went to an architect and had all my dreams drawn on paper.
And remember, I was putting these hopes and dreams in my beautiful wife’s head as well. Building hope and anticipation. Well, when all said and done, the cost of the lot was far greater than what I had intended since the house we had split it off from was now worth almost 30-40% less than what we had originally figured it would sell for. See, the market kept going down. It didn’t stop in 2008 or 2009. It stopped in late 2010 or so, after we decided to sell my dream, where it would have cost me over $600,000 to build and own. I would’ve gone bankrupt. I had already spent almost $20,000 on the project and I hadn’t dug a bit of dirt. I have really cool blueprints though, still sitting in my garage, reminding me of that hard lesson I had to go through.
It was a total failure and if I’d been intent on studying the Word, gleaning the knowledge that is in this verse in Proverbs, actually done what I’m saying in this little breakdown, I would’ve saved a lot of money myself and my Dad a whole lot more as well. I totally failed at a very obvious principle sitting there in Proverbs.
So, as you can see from my personal experience, there are some very good lessons here. It also goes for business in general. Lead with revenue. It’s great to have a cool office and a lot of nice stuff, but if I don’t have a very set business plan, with an exceptional product or service…..I’m going to lose that pretty view real quick!
For me, I take it a lot deeper. When I read something like this I quickly do a heart check. Am I doing things right? Is pride creeping in? Have I made some unwise choices? Do I need to stop pursuing a deal I’m currently in? Am I talking and not listening enough? It just makes me think deeper. It brings up analytical thinking and quick recalculation of where I’m at in life at that moment.
So, there we go. There’s the breakdown. That’s a simple example of one little verse, that breaks down the thought process and strategy I go through when reading my Bible. I hope this encourages you to dig deeper. To look at yourself in the mirror. To become a better version of yourself for those around you. I know I am always flawed, but I sure try to be wiser and more beneficial to those around me! I hope you can grow deeper in your understanding of yourself and those around you!
#bible #faith #biblestudy #proverbs #christ