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General Bible Courses > Living by the Book > Guidance by the Book

Chapter 4: Developing a Biblical Mindset


IN THIS CHAPTER, you will discover:  

·    How God works through the reading of His Word.  

·    The importance of daily devotions.  

·    Logic as an important ingredient in decision making.  

·    Characteristics to look for in a prospective mate.    

AS A RESULT, you will be able to:  

·    Hear God speak through His Word and then watch Him work.  

·    Begin productive daily devotions.  

·    Make practical and logical decisions.  

·    Assess the eligibility of a future marriage partner.        

O How Love I Thy Law  

God's law is perfect and converts

The soul in sin that lies;

God's testimony is most sure;

And makes the simple wise.  

 - James McGranahan

Searching the Scriptures

Key Scripture: "All Scripture is God‑breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, and training in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16).  

Intact Inception  

The wisdom of Scripture, inspired by God Himself, has guided believers for centuries. No other book has more influenced Christians than the Word of God. Speaking of Old Testament revelation, the writer of Hebrews stated: "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways" (1:1). God spoke directly to Moses when He gave the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1‑17). He also spoke directly to the prophet Jeremiah concerning the restoration of Israel (Jer. 30:1ff.). Zechariah received a prophecy regarding Jerusalem, but his message came through an angel (Zech. 1:8‑17). Abraham received his word from the Lord in a vision (Gen. 15:1ff.) while God communicated with Daniel through both dreams and visions (Dan. 7:1ff; 10:5ff.).  

Through the Incarnation, the Word of God came in the flesh. The writer of Hebrews added: "But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe" (1:2). Peter clearly stated that "no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation," but through the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20‑21). John declared that his writings stemmed from his experience as an eyewitness (1 John 1:1). Luke, the author of one of history's most important documents, also spoke of eyewitness accounts. He investigated all these sources, using careful research to validate the facts of the gospel from its beginning (Luke 1:3‑4).  

Infinite Inspiration  

The Bible is filled with examples, principles, models, judgments, and exhortations. More than anything, it is the love story of a merciful God for His wayward people. Scripture revolves around the prophecies, advent, death, resurrection, and final reign of His only Son, Jesus the Christ. The Bible is the bedrock of the Christian faith - an immutable testimony of the living God. "He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock" (Luke 6:48). On its pages are found God\'s will and purposes for His creation.  

As believers read His Word, God increasingly works within them. Minds and hearts are brought into communion with Him in such a way that the Lord is able to guide them - either directly or indirectly. Sometimes the Holy Spirit moves on readers to do what is in a biblical passage. Or a certain passage may constantly encourage and remind someone of His leading. Nevertheless, God takes our study of Scripture seriously, for through it we open ourselves to His guidance in many tangible and intangible ways.  

Scripture helps us to remain in the will of God in five logical ways:

  1. It increases our consciousness of God.
  2. It brings us into direct contact with God.
  3. It acquaints us with God's principles.
  4. It may inspire or confirm a particular decision.
  5. It provides an invaluable aid in praying for guidance.  

The discipline of daily Scripture reading helps us concentrate on the Lord and the kingdom principles necessary for abundant living. The Holy Spirit will frequently bring to mind a principle that has direct bearing on a current decision. As the Holy Spirit and Scripture work together, we will be drawn into a closer communion with the Lord. And the closer our friendship, the more likely we are to hear Him speak. This sense of intimacy has a positive impact in all areas of our Christian experience. Moreover, we will be especially blessed as we pray what God has already said in His Word: "Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me" (Ps. 31:3).  

ABCs of Scripture  

A person who reads English must first learn the alphabet, so these twenty‑six letters are the basic units of the language. Ignorance of just one letter can alter both the proficiency and comprehension of the reader. Likewise, Scripture is to be understood from its basic units that appear below:  

Assuring           (1 John 5:13)

Biographical     (Judg. 13:1‑16:31)

Commanding    (Ex. 20:1‑17)

Disciplinary       (1 Cor. 5:5)

Encouraging      (2 Tim. 1:7)

Family‑oriented  (Eph. 6:1‑4)

Genealogical     (1 Chron. 1:1‑9:34)

Historical           (Dan. 1:1‑2)

Instructive         (Deut. 6:1‑9)

Judicial             (Rev. 16:5‑7)

Knowledgeable  (Prov. 9:10)

Life‑giving         (John 3:15‑16)

Mighty               (Ps. 93 4)

Never‑ending    (Matt. 24:35)

Optimistic         (Isa. 60:4‑5)

Protective         (Ps. 91:3‑6)

Questioning      (Ps. 144:3)

Redemptive      (Ps. 130:7‑8)

Scientific           (Job 38:1‑41:34)

Trustworthy      (2 Sam. 7:28)

Unshakable      (Ps. 62:2)

Valuable           (Ps. 19:10)

Watchful           (Ps. 33:13‑14)

Xenophilous     (Heb. 13:2)

Youthful            (Ps. 103:5)

Zealous            (Matt. 5:6)    

A Light Unto My Path 

"Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies - make straight your way before me" (Ps. 5:8).  

"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfa­miliar paths I will guide them" (Isa. 42:16).

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matt. 6:33).  

Life Application: How best did you learn while you were a student in school? Was it through the reading of textbooks? Listening to music while you studied? Are you a visual learner? Remember, you can apply your best learning methods while studying scripture.

For Practical Purposes

Key Scripture: "But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night" (Ps. 1:2).  

Harry jumped out of bed. It was already 6:30 and he had to be at work - ten miles away - in an hour. He had planned on getting up earlier, but found it hard to drag himself out of bed. The TV show had lasted longer than he thought, and he had to wind down afterwards. His wife Kitty and he had discussed the movie at length before they finally got to bed at 12:30.   “

Well, devotions will just have to wait,” he thought. “I promised myself I wouldn't let this happen again!” he berated himself. Things had been so hectic lately, and he had to spend some time with his kids and Kitty. Besides that, he needed eight good hours of sleep in order to function. Sometimes Harry wondered if God knew how harried his life had been lately. “I can pray on the way to work,” he mused.  

As Harry scrambled to get ready, Kitty ambled into the kitchen. "I'm glad you decided to get up!" he snarled. “"But, I...",” she started to explain about Teri's nightmare at four in the morning. But when she saw the angry look on Harry's face, she turned and walked away. Immediately, her husband knew he had hurt her feelings. “Too bad, I'll apologize tonight - l have to get going,” he thought.  

Once Harry was out on the highway, he began to pray: "Lord, I don't know what\'s wrong. I growl at my wife and snap at my children. I don't enjoy my friends anymore and I hate to go to work.About that time, a delivery truck swerved in front of Harry's car, just missing his left fender. "You stupid jerk!" Harry screamed. He could feel his blood pressure mounting. "You could have killed me!" Harry honked his horn furiously, then waved his fist menacingly at the truck driver. The driver waved back pleasantly. Grinding his teeth, Harry looked at the bumper sticker on the truck: "Honk if you love Jesus!" "Oh, Lord," Harry moaned, "help me get back to where I was when you saved me."  

A regular devotional time of Scripture reading and prayer is absolutely vital to a vibrant spiritual life. The time for personal devotions is to be taken seriously since it is an investment in your day. Often it will be necessary to fight daily challenges to keep your commitment. But spend­ing time alone with Christ is the only way we can become acquainted with His ways and thoughts. Therefore regularity of devotions, rather than length, is the key factor. Every believer needs daily energizing. Further­more, our faithfulness gives the Holy Spirit maximum freedom to use the Scripture in guiding us to do His will.  

There is a caution, however, against legalism. If you should miss your devotional time, you cannot make it up. Simply resume the next day and go on. If you find that you are missing too many days, perhaps you need to reschedule your devotions to a more convenient time. Early morning seems to be the best time for many people, since time spent in the Word sets the tone for the rest of the day. But for those who function best later in the day, nightly devotions may work better. Whatever your choice, you should be wide awake, giving your full attention to the Lord. Otherwise, He may speak - and you won't hear.  

Once you have your time set aside, concentrate on where you will begin your study. Many people start with Genesis and read on to Revelation. New Christians, however, should begin with the New Testament and end with the Old. Several excellent daily study Bibles are available, which suggest passages from both the Old and New Testaments. And since the book of Psalms helps to direct our attention to prayer, reading one psalm daily is a good idea. Try the approach that works for you - whatever is beneficial to your growth in Christ. There will be times when you need God\'s guidance in a specific area. Using your concordance, you can find scriptures relating to the particular problem. Moreover, reading these passages aloud in prayer and meditating on them will bring further revelation from the Lord.  

  • Some general guidelines for developing a quiet time are:
  • Decide to have daily devotions.
  • Set aside a regular time.
  • Choose a regular place.
  • Read Scripture expectantly.
  • Seek practical applications.
  • Keep a daily spiritual diary or journal.  

A spiritual diary is a handy method to record special daily insights, check on consistency, review progress, and appraise spiritual growth. Your journal should include God's communication to you today, a direction, a biblical principle, and the application of what you have learned.   Furthermore, you should ask yourself certain questions concerning any promises discovered in Scripture: (1) Is it universal? (2) Does it apply directly to me? and (3) Is it conditional?  

Motivated Meditation  

Even though we are born again, we still experience conflict and struggles in our mind, will, and emotions. However, the renewal of our mind is a continual process, which happens as we read the Bible and meditate on God's Word. One way to meditate on a passage is to visualize it by picturing each word. Another way to personalize the passage is to put the scripture in the first person and quote it back to God.  

Christian meditation, which is not to be confused with that of the New‑Age movement, is a legitimate tool for worship. According to Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, meditate means "to engage in contemplation or reflection; reflect on or ponder over." Closely related is the word rumi­nate, which means "to go over in the mind repeatedly and often casually or slowly; to engage in contemplation."  

Consider for a moment what happens when we meditate on God\'s Word. We continually bring it to the forefront of our mind. We consider its different aspects and reflect on its various facets, thinking over and over how the passage relates to our own life. Ultimately, anything meditated upon long enough becomes a part of us. According to Psalm 1:3, the results of meditation are twofold: fruitfulness (very productive, prolific, abounding in anything, fertile) and fulfillment (accomplished, completed, carried into effect).  

Devotions should include meditation because it:  

  • Inspires and moves us to pray.  
  • Gives promises to claim in prayer.  
  • Provides words to use in prayer.  
  • Shows His will to follow in prayer.  
  • Convicts us of sin, which hinders prayer.  
  • Strengthens faith.  

Personal Bible Study  

One way to conduct your own Bible study is to ask yourself ten questions about the passage you are reading. Are there any:

  • Examples to follow?
  • Warnings to heed?
  • Commands to obey?
  • Sins to forsake?
  • Truths about God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit?
  • New truths revealed about my own life?
  • Words of encouragement? Comfort?
  • Words of inspiration? Challenge?
  • Recent personal situations that relate to this?
  • Anticipated situations that relate to this?  

If you have questions about getting started in Bible study, you should consider taking the Living By The Book course called \"Studying The Book.\" This course will give you a comprehensive introduction to in-depth Bible study.  

A Light Unto My Path  

"May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth" (Ps. 67:4).  

"Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discern­ing get guidance" (Prov. 1:5).  

"For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure" (Prov. 1 1:14).   

Life Application: The Bible itself tells us the importance of studying scripture. Read 2 Timothy 3:14-17, and list three ways regularly reading scripture can enhance your life.

Thinking Things Through

Key Scripture: "We have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding" (Col. 1:9).  

When we become a Christian, we develop a completely different worldview. Our goal is now to follow Christ and to do His will. Our mind and heart are opened to the influence of God's Spirit. A thorough study of God's Word helps to change our mindset from worldly to biblical.  

Believers expect God's guidance in various ways:

  • Dramatic sign (a vision or dream)
  • Mystical inner revelation (intuition or "gut instinct")
  • Coincidental circumstances (unexplainable situations)
  • Bible roulette (picking a verse randomly)
  • Coin toss (assuming that God controls the toss)
  • A fleece (testing God through specific request)
  • Shepherding (decisions made by others)  

God's will can be known through a process of careful, responsible thought. He has given each believer common sense and reason. Therefore logic can be trusted in most major decisions.  

Christians often get discouraged because they simply do not believe that God is revealing how they should use their gifts and abilities. Perhaps you have waited for some extraordinary indication that God wants you to do something creative or benevolent. But you have become discouraged because such guidance never came. You may have forgotten that God wants you to take some responsibility for the decision. God's guidance often comes in that manner when you pray and open your heart to His will.  

Luke the physician described how he came to write two New Testament books (Luke 1:3‑4). Surprisingly, he did not mention a supernatural revelation that told him to write them. Instead, he stated that it seemed a good idea. He made a logical decision based on the facts at hand. If Luke needed no more dramatic guidance than this for the inspiration to write his Gospel and Acts, God does not need to use extraordinary guidance for us either. What an encouragement that our decisions can be a process through which we can discern God's will.  

It is noteworthy that Luke mentions having an intimate knowledge of the events in the life of Jesus. Apparently he had a natural motivation toward history and research. Luke also exhibited a natural gift for writing. As we assess his gifts and motivations, we must see a need to assess our own areas of motivation and gifts. When listing your strengths, don't forget to mention the wealth of experiences that are unique to you.  

Finally, it is intriguing that Luke was not dissuaded from his creative task, even though others felt called to write Gospels of their own. Often creative people are easily intimidated because someone else has already accom­plished what they set out to do. But regardless of the success of others, the fields are still white unto harvest and the laborers, by comparison, are tragically few. God may be able to touch certain people only through your efforts.  

Carefully consider how you can best invest your creative gifts and oppor­tunities to the glory of Christ. Don't get sidetracked by expecting more dramatic guidance from God than you really need, or by comparing yourself unnecessarily with others. God has given you a unique combi­nation of gifts and opportunities. Furthermore, he will continue to provide abundant inspiration and guidance about using them. But you must take the time to understand, for "we have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:16). This truth concerning the mind of Christ will be discussed more fully in future chapters.  

A Light Unto My Path

"You gave your good Spirit to instruct them" (Neh. 9:20).  

"You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light" (Ps. 18:28).

"And he guided them to their desired haven" (Ps. 107:30).    

Life Application: Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem on a mission to rebuild the wall - but he didn't go on a whim. Read the book of Nehemiah and learn how he was guided by God and assisted by many others along the way. Think about how much you allow God to guide you, and other people to help you - even in the smallest ways.

Practical Decision Making

Key Scripture: "Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long" (Ps. 25:5).  

No special guidance was present in most of Paul's decisions. He simply followed a process of careful deliberation. When choosing a traveling companion, Paul looked carefully at Timothy's gifts and qualifications for the role - a perfectly logical process. Believers today can still discover God's will through rational discernment. Making a decision as a Christian uses the same cognitive processes as those of an unbeliever. Each time we make a decision, we mentally note the pros and cons of the issue. Sometimes, however, part of our list may slip into the subconscious ­becoming lost in our "files" until after the decision has been made. To keep our data up‑to‑date, try the following:  

Decide to follow God's guidance willingly.

Exercise spiritual muscles through prayer and Bible reading.

Compile a list of possibilities.

Investigate each one thoroughly.

Simplify by listing positives and negatives.

Integrate into a priority chart.

Open your mind to other options.

Negate any decision that opposes conscience or Scripture.  

Laurie, an honor student, is about to graduate from college. Because of her outstanding record, she has been approached by three large companies who have offered her positions. After much prayer, Laurie decided to compare the three companies, giving each a grade of one to five, with five being the best.

Although the scores are fairly close, Laurie chose to work for the Christopher Company. She had not realized how much she valued her co‑workers and environment until she saw it written down. Obviously, everyone would not make the same decision, since each person would have different criteria. A man with a family might choose AB Metals because of the higher salary and minimal travel. He would also have to consider the schools in the area and housing suitable for a family if a move were required.  

Thinking Through Marriage  

Even though marriages are supposedly made in heaven, any couple contemplating wedlock should logically appraise each other without the proverbial rose‑colored glasses. Two important areas to assess are the level of your friendship and your readiness for marriage. Below are sample checklists:  

In assessing your friendship, do you…...

...have a variety of common interests?

...support each other at points of strength?

...accept each other's weaknesses?

...laugh together often?

...build each other up in Christ?

...think he/she will carry out marital responsibilities?

...feel physical attraction?  

In judging marital readiness...

...do you believe that marriage is forever?

...have you determined to understand yourself and your family?

...will you avoid destructive patterns experienced by your family?

...have you been dedicated to a job, past projects, or relationships?

...are you both at least twenty‑one?

...have you experienced independent living?

...how well do you manage time? Money?

...are you emotionally ready to forsake the single life?

...have you known each other at least a year?

...have you observed each other under difficult conditions?

...are you both free of chemical addictions?

...are either of you desperate to get married?

...will you have premarital counseling?  

We must responsibly make many important personal choices involving marriage or career. In each of these, we must trust that God in His providence will provide all the information needed to keep us in His will.  

Logical thought, accompanied by a willing heart, is a more spiritually mature approach to these issues than waiting for a dramatic vision or visitation.  

A Light Unto My Path

"Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be" (Job 8:7).

"Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!" (Ps. 119:5).

"All a man's ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart” (Prov. 21:2).

Life Application: What is the most pressing decision that faces you now? Have you sought guidance? Turn to a trusted friend for wisdom.

Take the quiz

Quiz Instructions

Test your knowledge by taking this short quiz which covers what you just read. Select the correct response based on the lessons and concepts.

1. Personal growth and a deeper sense of __________ are all benefits of knowing God's will.



2. A person who __________ God's written Word will be fulfilled and fruitful.

Meditates on


3. Biblical passages do not inspire or confirm a particular decision.



4. Studying Scripture in a daily quiet time often brings insight.



5. Christian meditation is contemplating __________.



6. Psalm 1 speaks of meditating on God's Word.



7. The __________ of devotions is more important.



8. The Holy Spirit needs maximum time to use Scripture in guiding us.



9. God __________ complete responsibility for making our decisions.



10. Christians are to make sound __________ decisions.



11. Believers are __________ to take the initiative in decision making.



12. Receiving guidance implies instantaneous direction without thinking through a decision.



13. Believers and non‑believers share the same cognitive experience in making decisions.



14. God's will was discerned supernaturally in most of the personal decisions noted in the New Testament.



15. Paul experienced __________ supernatural instances as recorded in the New Testament.



16. An opportunity, according to Paul was a wide __________.



17. Paul's future plans were always __________.



18. We __________ obliged to respond to every open door.


Are not

19. A more spiritually mature believer will receive supernatural guid­ance.



20. Rational judgment of a person's qualities is the prime factor in a call to __________.



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