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When we read the Bible, we want to understand it and apply it. We want to know what the Bible says and how it affects our lives. We want something to happen, we want to get something out of it.

But we’re often left frustrated and wondering what we missed.

The following questions come from Matthew Harmon’s book Asking the Right Questions: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Applying the Bible. I’ll add a few ideas to each one.

Before we can apply the Bible, we must understand it. I can’t stress this enough, because too often we jump to applying it to our lives, and when we skip this first step, we will often miss what God has for us and what the Bible actually says. For some ideas on how to understand the bible, see this post.

Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

Here are 4 questions from Harmon on applying the Bible:

1. What does God want me to think/understand?

We do what we think and understand. We act based on our thoughts. If we think something, we go for it. God wants to shape and mold our thinking.

Remember, Hebrews 4 says that the Bible shapes our thoughts and the intentions of our hearts.

2. What does God want me to believe?

Connected to our thinking, God wants to change our beliefs.

We believe many things about ourselves that are not true. We believe we aren’t good enough, not lovable. We also believe we are too good.

3. What does God want me to desire?

We never sin without following a desire.

That desire could be for love or adventure. In this step we need to evaluate our desires. Are our longings, hopes, dreams and desires from God? Sometimes they are.

A desire for leadership can be a good, godly desire; it can also be a prideful desire.

A good question when it comes to desire is, “Will this further God’s kingdom or mine? Is what I’m desiring a need or a want?”

4. What does God want me to do?

Notice, this is last. Too often this is where we start, and when we do we miss what is actually happening in the Bible.

God wants us to do something based off what we read, what we understand about Him, about ourselves and our world. He is calling us to something. The Bible creates movement in us because the Holy Spirit is moving and active. Remember Hebrews 4.

Josh Reich is the lead pastor of Revolution Church in Tucson, AZ, which is trying to live out the rhythms of Jesus. The church's dream is to "help people find their way back to God."

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