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CHAPTER 1
FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD
THROUGH SCRIPTURE
•••

1.1  Learning to Read: Five Paths

You are reading in subchapter 1.1 of chapter 1 in the free, global online book, Fellowship With God in the Sixth Path. Navigation at the top and bottom of each page, allows you to open the table of contents, visit the home page, ask questions or share your story. 



Jesus said, "Come to me..." 

Matthew 11:28



I will address you as if you are a new convert. I will also address you as if I am with you, at this very moment... as if I am going through this book with you. In reality, I am with you. I am with you, through the words in this book and through my prayers. I will address you in this reality. 


Fellowship with God is the purpose of this book. If we don't have fellowship with God when reading scripture, how can we have fellowship with God in our work, in God's work or while suffering? 


Scripture is the point of beginning... a point of contact with God. Scripture is where the Holy Spirit teaches us to connect with God.  The heart must touch what the eye cannot see. It all depends on what happens in that very second when we come into contact with the words of God. What happens in that moment determines whether our daily devotional results in intimate and powerful interaction with God or not. That moment is the foundation of this book. It is from that moment that this fellowship with God unfolds.


In this subchapter we will experiment with some different ways to read scripture. Many do not understand God's word because they do not know how to read Gods' word. They read the words of the living God in the same way as they would read a bus schedule or menu. When our eyes are granted access to the living words of the living God, we must learn to read all over again. It is important that you do what I ask you to do. Please do not skip any steps. Please experience each path in order.



Path One: Alone

Please read the following scripture. 


  • "23 When he (Jesus) got into a boat, his disciples followed him. 24 Behold, a violent storm came up on the sea, so much that the boat was covered with the waves; but he was asleep. 25 The disciples came to him and woke him up, saying, "Save us, Lord! We are dying!"26 He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" (Matthew 8:23-26).


Thank you for reading the passage. As you read, your mind was probably trying to understand the meaning of the passage. You have experienced a basic form of reading. It may have been an impersonal way of reading. 


You may have read like you do when reading an instruction book, a text book or a news article. This way of reading the scripture is Path One: Reading Alone.


By the way, I inserted "(Jesus)" into the above scripture quote for clarification. In this book, whenever you see words in parenthesis within a scripture quote, the words within the parenthesis are mine, and are not part of the scripture.


You have just read scripture by the way of Path One. Now, let's read another scripture in a different way. I am not saying that this second way is the only way. But you may find it helpful. 



Path Two: Heart

Please read the passages below. But as you read, seek the heart of the passages. If a particular scripture touches your heart, dwell on that passage. Dwell on those words as long as they tug on your heart. Then slowly and gently read on.  So, go ahead. Very slowly... read the passages below. And while you read, seek the heart of the passage.


  • "The Lord said, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan asked to have all of you, that he might sift you as wheat, 32 but I prayed for you, that your faith wouldn't fail. You, when once you have turned again, establish your brothers" (Luke 22:31-32).
  • "The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith" (Luke 17:5).
  • "Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." Immediately the father of the child cried out with tears, "I believe. Help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:23-24).
  • "night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face, and may perfect that which is lacking in your faith" (1 Thessalonians 3:10).
  • "We are bound to always give thanks to God for you, brothers, even as it is appropriate, because your faith grows exceedingly" (2 Thessalonians 1:3).
  • "For I say through the grace that was given me, to every man who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think reasonably, as God has apportioned to each person a measure of faith" (Romans 12:3).


Thank you for reading again. As you read, your heart and spirit were probably more engaged than in your first reading. 


Our hearts should be engaged with God as we read. In Matthew 15:8, Jesus said, "These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 And in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrine rules made by men." 


The habit of reading for content only is hard to break. If you read the passages in an academic fashion, please read them again, as I asked.

Now, let's read again in still another way. 



Path Three: To Him 

Read God's words to God: 


Imagine that your heavenly father wrote a book for you. Imagine also that you are a child, sitting in His lap, reading His book to Him. It's that simple. Come into the intimate presence of your Lord by faith, and then read His words to Him. 


I will show you what I mean using Matthew 28:19-20. Here is Matthew 28:19-20:

  • Jesus said "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20).


Now I will read Matthew 28:19-20 to God:

My Father in Heaven, Your son Jesus said go and  make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in Your name and in the name of Your Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching all nations to observe all things that Your Son had commanded the disciples.

Now it's your turn. Come into the intimate presence of your Lord by faith, and then read His words to Him. You will not be ready for the next step if you don't take this step. 


Please read these words of God to God.

  • "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15).
  • Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).


The essence of this reading is totally different from the first two readings. You experienced Fellowship with your Lord as you read. Instead of reading about God, you interacted with God. And more than that, you interacted with the living God in every sentence, phrase and word. You observed every sentence, phrase and word. Now the Holy Spirit can reveal and interact with you in every sentence, phrase and word. 


Few will understand the true meaning of scripture without the exhaustive observation and intimate spiritual interaction which one experiences in this step... in every sentence, phrase and word!


Reading God's words to God will be awkward at first as new things often are. Try reading the entire book of Ephesians or Colossians to God. It should take less than an hour. Reading to God will become natural and productive after you read four or five chapters. 


Some may think that it is childish to read the scriptures to God. But Jesus said...

"3 Most certainly I tell you, unless you turn and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. 4 Whoever therefore humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.  (Matthew 18:3,4).


So, one must become childlike to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (verse 3). And once one has entered the Kingdom of Heaven, greatness is also achieved by being childlike (verse 4). So, if we are to mature to greatness in Christ through reading God's words, we must do it "as little children... like this little child."


Reading to God also pierces a delusion. We tend to act as if God is not present because He is unseen. Reading to God opens our eyes to the unseen. 


The habit of reading for content only is hard to break. If you read the passages in an academic fashion, please read them again, as I asked.


Next, let's read in a slightly different way... a new covenant way. 



Path Four: Within

Read God's words to God within:


Instead of viewing yourself as being in God's lap, speak to God where He is... He is within you! Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:19 "Or don't you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you". Paul also wrote in Galatians 2:20 "it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me". 


Now, please turn your attention inward towards your spirit. God's Spirit is there, with your spirit. Fix your eyes on Him. Then read the passages to God who lives within you:

  • "I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor... You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you... But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you" (John 14:16-26).
  • "praying at all times in the Spirit, and being watchful to this end in all perseverance and requests for all the saints: 19 on my behalf, that utterance (words) may be given to me in opening my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the Good News" (Ephesians 6:18-19).
  • "Yes, and you will be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony to them and to the nations. 19 But when they deliver you up, don't be anxious how or what you will say, for it will be given you in that hour what you will say. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you" (Matthew 10:18-20).


You have now had fellowship with God as you read. This fellowship with God is on a different level than the first three readings. There are many paths. But, you have taken a step towards reality. You are interacting with God where He is... within you! 


The habit of reading for content only is hard to break. If you read the passages in an academic fashion, please read them again, as I asked. 


Now, you have experienced great intimacy with God as you read His words. It is time to move to an even higher path of fellowship with God, in his word. In the Fourth Path, we experienced reading to God within. In the Fifth Path, we will add vital elements to the Fourth Path to enter into a more complete experience with God in His word: It is represented by the acrostic PRAY.


 

Path Five: PRAY in the Secret Place of the Heart

In the Fifth Path, we PRAY the scriptures. We do this in the secret place of the heart. PRAY is an acrostic which represents Praise, Read, Ask and Yield. 


P: Praise

R: Read

A: Ask

Y: Yield


So, in the Fifth Path, we are adding vital elements to the Fourth Path for reading scripture: Prayer in the secret place of the heart that yields to God. 


What is the Secret Place?

  • In Matthew 6:5-6, Jesus said, "When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men... when you pray, enter into your inner room, and having shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly."

Jesus was saying that we should not pray publicly to be seen by men. But, Jesus was not instructing us to pray privately, for it is written in Luke 9:18 "As he was praying alone, the disciples were with him". Jesus prayed in the presence of others. The Matthew passage was pointing to intimate conversation with God. Jesus was not restricting prayer to a physical location. To "shut your door" is to shut everything out of your consciousness, except God. You may pray in a special room if you wish. You may also pray in the presence of others, like Jesus did. You may pray corporately so that others hear your prayer. (The Psalms are prayers that are sung publicly.) Even though others hear your prayer, the intimate essence of your spirit touching His Spirit will be hidden. It is your prayer in the secret place. 


So, in this Fifth Path, your time in His word has become prayer. Prayer and Bible study are no longer sequential. They are concurrent. You will pray as you read to God who is inside you. But what will you pray? You will offer praise and thanksgiving. You will ask God to reveal the heart of the passage. You will ask for forgiveness and make other requests pertinent to the passage. You will yield to the leading of His Spirit as you read.  This path is presented in greater detail in subchapter 1.2.


Now, please read His words in the way of Path Five. Read God's words to God in the secret place within. Praise, ask (make requests) and yield as you read. 


(Estimated Time: 3 minutes to 3 weeks) 


  • "This is the boldness which we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he listens to us. 15 And if we know that he listens to us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of him" (1 John 5:14-15).
  • "For this cause, we also, since the day we heard this, don't cease praying and making requests for you, that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 that you may walk worthily of the Lord, to please him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God, 11 strengthened with all power, according to the might of his glory, for all endurance and perseverance with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, 13 who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the Kingdom of the Son of his love, 14 in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins" (Colossians 1:9-14).


Thank you for reading. Not only did you read in the presence of your Lord, you also prayed through the passage. In doing so, you have combined prayer and the word. So, your fellowship with God became an active fellowship with God. You have had fellowship with God through the scriptures. 


The habit of reading for content only is hard to break. If you read the passages in academic fashion, please read them again, as I asked.

 

Summary: 

We have experimented with the Five Paths of reading scripture. The Fifth Path includes all of the features of the first four. Over your life, your mind may have developed a strong habit of reading for content only, of reading alone. But we are not to do anything alone. 


Everything we do is to be done for, through and with God:

  • Everything: "bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5).
  • For: "whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31).
  • Through: "apart from me, you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
  • With: "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:16).


God is within us. So, we are never alone. Why should we read scripture as if we are? Reading alone is a delusion.


Paul wrote, "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Surely, we should do these things as we read God's word.  

This habit of reading alone takes a very long time to break. I have not overcome it. I can't. The intimacy of the Fifth Path is granted by Him, as we ask for it. It is granted as we pray the Endorsed Prayers, which are presented in later subchapters. 


After several years of practice, the Fifth Path became spontaneous and natural for me, to some degree. After additional years of reading in the way of the Fifth Path, I have been drawn into greater depths of intimacy with my Lord. I am not saying that this is the only way or the best way.  It is the best way that I have received so far.



Scripture Reading Options:

Ask the Lord to lead you. He may lead you to read in the Second Path for a time. Then He may draw you into the Third or Fifth Paths. Sometimes we should scan an entire book of the Bible. Other times we should slowly pray through a book.


Scanning:

The Second, Third or Fourth Paths are very useful for scanning. Before praying through a book of the Bible, it is best to scan the book, in one sitting, every day for a week... preferably two weeks. The first time I did this with Revelation, it took two and one half hours. The fourteenth scan took forty-five minutes. After scanning, you can talk to God about the passage with questions, praise, thanksgiving and other requests. When you scan, jot down topics you see in each chapter. Every time you scan the book, add or amend your topics for each chapter. I really begin to feel comfortable with a book after the twenty-fifth scan. 


Praying a Book:

After scanning at least seven times, the Lord may lead you to PRAY through the book using the Fifth Path. Ask Him to draw you into His words.


But please do not do one thing. Please do not read alone. He is within you. In your spirit turn to Him who is within. As you read, turn. If your heart is distracted from Him, turn again. Turn again and again and again. Over time, your times of intimacy will lengthen. Your times of reading alone will shorten. Its a growth process. You will be reading scripture in fellowship with God who is within.


Over time, reading scripture in fellowship will spill over into other areas of life. You will find yourself working in fellowship, talking to a friend in fellowship, sharing your faith in fellowship. It has been a very slow process for me. But turning in your spirit, to Him who is within, will become spontaneous, natural and powerful over time. 


The closing words of the introduction to this book were:

"To enter into this fellowship, the heart must touch what the eye cannot see. It all depends on what happens in one particular moment... in that very second when we come into contact with the word of God. That moment is the foundation of this book. It is from that moment, which this fellowship with God unfolds. Chapter 1 will focus on that moment."


Before you continue in this book, I have one very important request. Please read again the scriptures presented in the introduction and in this subchapter. Those scriptures lay a critical foundation for fellowship with God. I ask you to read them in the way of the Fifth Path. If a particular passage touches your heart, dwell on that passage. Dwell on those words as long as they tug on your heart. Then slowly and affectionately read on. This may take minutes or months.


Then, and only then, continue in this book. Your goal is to read every scripture in this book in the way of the Fifth Path.



Conventions

This book is divided into chapters, subchapters and micro-subchapters. In other words, chapters have subchapters. Some subchapters have micro-subchapters. 


For example, chapter 3 has five subchapters (3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4 and 3.5). Micro-subchapter 3.1c refers to a smaller section within subchapter 3.1. Using this simple organizational tool, I can refer you to a very specific part of the book to make it easy for you to find more material about a particular subject.



Once Upon a Time

If you are not motivated to read scripture, I have a story to tell you. 


When I was a boy my father taught me to read everything that I signed. He said, "Don't ever sign a document that you have not read. Once you sign it you are bound to it. You won't get off the hook by saying that you didn't read it before you signed it." 


Later in the business world, I negotiated, created and signed documents regularly. These documents created binding agreements. It was my responsibility to protect the interest of the partners I represented and to enforce those agreements, through the courts if necessary. Sometimes I had a fiduciary duty. I often irritated others because I refused to sign any agreement without reading it. 


I was not a big shot executive. I always worked in small businesses. My wife and I bought an average size house when we married. We never added on to it. As I am writing these words, we have lived in that home for thirty-seven years.


You would be amazed at how many times a negotiator has placed a document in front of me and said that the words in the document meant one thing when they plainly said something else. I negotiated every agreement with the understanding that it may end up in court before a judge and jury. 


First, I read the document from my point of view to see if my company was getting what they were supposed to get through the agreement. Then I read the document from the other party's point of view, to see how they could abuse our company. Then I read the document from the point of view of an impartial judge and jury, to estimate how they would react to various language in the document. It was time consuming. Sometimes I read and negotiated for days or even weeks in one document.


One day an employee brought a routine document to me for my signature. She told me what it was. It sounded fine. Most business people that I was familiar with would have signed it without reading it. After all, it was a routine transaction. But instead of signing it unread, I read the document while she waited in my office.


The document was full of false and fraudulent statements. It said that I was an executive vice president of a savings and loan corporation which had a branch in my city. The document also stated that I was releasing that corporation's lien against certain real estate. I had never worked for that savings and loan or done business with it.


My employee didn't know who had prepared the document. So I called the savings and loan and inquired about the document. I talked to several people and no one knew anything about it. I was furious.


The next day our local news reported that the FBI had shut down that savings and loan. The savings and loan was involved in fraudulent loans related to the well known Interstate 30 corridor scandal near Dallas, Texas. Many financial institutions across the state collapsed in that scandal. People were arrested and went to prison.


If I had signed the document, I could have gone to prison. The mere signing of the document would have constituted a crime. After it had been notarized and filed of record in the court house, it could have allowed a debtor to sell an asset without paying funds legally due to the savings and loan. In other words, that document could have enabled someone to commit fraud on a savings and loan that failed. The FBI would rightfully have investigated me extensively. My career would have taken a nosedive.


My employee who brought the document had good intentions. She thought that the document was one thing. But it was a fraudulent document.


I could have gone to prison merely by failing to read. I could have gone to prison for relying on my employees innocent representation of what was in that document.


There can be severe consequences for not reading.


Now here is my point. Have you ever read the Bible? Of all the books in the world, none is as important as the Bible. Most people think that the Bible is a list of rights and wrongs. They think of it as a moral code.


That is not really true. It does contain a moral code. But the Bible is really about much more than that. The Bible reveals what God has done to bring man into a right relationship with himself. If you are a Christian, the Bible reveals your role in that purpose. Jesus said that your role "is easy". 


God could reveal your role directly to your mind without the Bible. But, if you have access to a Bible, He has already provided his words to you for you to read.


If you read five chapters per day, you could read the entire Bible every year. But I am not suggesting that you do that.


Here is my suggestion: Ask God to draw you into his word. Jesus said "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him" (John 6:44).


Don't' rely on someone else to tell you what is in the Bible. Jeremiah 17:5 says "Cursed is the man who trusts in man". Please read the Bible as I have suggested. Trust God to reveal himself to you. God will use spirit filled Christian laymen, teachers and preachers to illuminate His words, but you need direct contact with His words.


As a first step, please read again the scriptures presented in the introduction and this subchapter. As I said before, those scriptures lay a critical foundation for fellowship with God. I ask you to read them in the way of the Fifth Path. If a particular passage touches your heart, dwell on that passage. Dwell on those words as long as they tug on your heart. Then slowly and affectionately read on. 


This may take minutes or months.


Then, and only then, continue in this book. Your goal is to read every scripture in this book in the way of the Fifth Path.


The next subchapter will help you to enter more deeply into the Fifth Path... for a more powerful experience with God as you read His words.




Group Discussion Questions

Please prayerfully answer the following questions:


1) What is missing if we read scripture alone, in an academic way (Path 1)?

2) In Path 2, when you searched for the heart of the passage, how was your experience different from reading alone (Path 1).

3) In Path 2 (Heart), what scripture says that we should draw near to God with our hearts? 

4) In Path 3, when you read God's words to God as a child, did you experience greater intimacy with God? 

5) In Path 3, what scriptures state that we must become like little children to grow to be great in the Kingdom of Heaven? 

6) In Path 4 you read God's words to God within. What scripture indicates where God is? Is it a delusion to read scripture as if God is a billion miles away... out in the stars?

7) In Path 5, what does the acrostic PRAY stand for? 

8) Was it helpful to PRAY as you read instead of just praying before and after you read?

9)  What should happen in that very second when we come into contact with the words of God? 

10) In the summary, how long did the author say it took him for the Fifth Path to become spontaneous and natural?

11) What subchapter will help you enter more deeply into the Fifth Path (PRAY in the secret place of the heart)?


All of the answers to all of these questions are provided in this subchapter (1.1).


 But we all, with unveiled face seeing the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18

Have a question or want to share how this book has impacted your life?