I ended my last post saying I would look at how to practically behold Jesus and explore whether there was a difference between coming to Him and coming to the scriptures and a difference between reading the scriptures devotionally or for study purposes. The answer is that the scriptures are a means of encountering Jesus, though not the only one. Worship is for me, and many others, a key means of encountering Him. We also need to remember that while we can never live rightly outside of the bounds of scripture, the book of the Lord must never become more important than the Lord of the book. The scriptures are a means to an end, not an end in and of themselves. They point us to Jesus but we can read them and never encounter or draw close to Him.
When we come to the scriptures it makes a difference whether we are reading them to find information, which has its place as the various areas of our lives need to be in-formation, or to encounter Jesus. When we read them to encounter Jesus we come with a different heart attitude, asking what He is speaking to our heart in the moment. Below is a simple example of the difference.
13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
I can read this verse and look at the historical context and conclude that Paul wrote from prison, Roman prisons were not pleasant places, yet somehow Jesus sustained Paul. Jesus will sustain me. A logical process with logical inferences and a process that has a right place in our spiritual journey. I could come to this same verse devotionally and think, “Jesus, today I can draw on your Spirit, I can look to You for wisdom in the choices I need to make.” As I continue I begin to actually feel His presence and strength and a confidence in His love and care grows inside of me.
To behold Him I could take this same verse and by faith sit before Him meditating on the reality of His presence and become aware of Him just being with me. I could then open my spirit to release love to Him and receive love from Him. As I become attuned to my own spirit and sit with Him I become more attuned to His Spirit in me leading and drawing me. In my own experience this is a major aspect of living a transformed life. The times I fail to do this are the times I fail to live in and out of spiritual rest.
In our busy and at times frenetic culture, we need places of retreat. As Gene Edwards wrote so wisely, “Nowhere will you find a more untroubled place of retreat than in your spirit.” I encourage you to regularly go to this place. In my next post I will further develop the practical mechanics of sitting with Jesus.