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Archive for the tag “Study the Bible”

Road Maps

Remember road maps? Before GPS systems, there were those ancient paper maps that once you open them, it was hard to fold them back in the right manner. I loved to read maps. When I moved into a new city, I always got a map of the city. I studied it for months to find the best routes to all the places I wanted to go. I would take it everywhere I went, just in case I found myself in an unfamiliar place.

Not too long ago, I was making my way home on a few of the back streets to avoid rush hour traffic. My sister was following me closely because she didn’t know the way I was going. She made the remark that I knew these roads well. My comment back was that I had lived in my city for 17 years so I should know it pretty well. However, it wasn’t because of my longevity here. It was because I studied the city map for months when I first arrived and became familiar with the roads I needed to take to get me from point A to B.

I have heard that the Bible is our road map. It helps us navigate this life’s path. Yes, it is very helpful to our way of life as a follower of Jesus. However, it’s so much more than that. The Bible is not about us; it’s about God. It’s His story. It’s the story of redemption and glory – our redemption for His glory. The Bible is not just one book. It is 66 books and letters; written by approximately 40 authors over 1600 years that tells one story. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the story flows through the different books and letters to give us a revelation of Jesus and God’s ultimate plan for humanity. It’s there for us in black and white and a few red letters too (if you have Jesus’ words in red). It is all there – from beginning to end. We know how the story ends.

I have heard also that you can’t trust the Bible. There are contradictions or errors or it was written for a different time. But God’s word will never go out of style. It will stand forever. These ancient documents have stood the test of time. There are approximately 32,000 known ancient transcripts of this book; more than any other book in history. What we have today is verified as accurate through all these transcripts. That’s pretty amazing.

But God’s word isn’t very popular. Oh, it’s the most sold book in the world. However, it is not the most read book in the world. It’s difficult to understand. For the longest time, I didn’t read it. I had multiple copies of it but they all sat in my nightstand or on the book shelf. But one day, I began to read. I ask God to give me a hunger and thirst for His word. He answered that prayer and I haven’t laid it aside since. The difficulty of reading it turned to a love of it through the Holy Spirit’s teaching. The Bible makes no sense to those who are not under the teaching of the Holy Spirit. But as the Spirit leads, we are taught from its pages.

The Bible is a relationship. It is God’s Word to us. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is said to be God’s Word in the flesh. Prayer is our voice in communication with God, but His Word is the communication back. To be in relationship means, we need to have more than just our voice in the communication pattern. We have to listen to God’s voice too. For those who call themselves Christians and do not read God’s Word, I just don’t see how there is much of a relationship. Someone is probably arguing with me right now. Maybe there is a way to know God without reading, maybe there is the experience portion of knowing Him. But experience must also be undergirded with reading. How are you to know if you are experiencing God unless you know His Word?

Someone may argue that they get all the teaching they need through Sunday morning church service. But if one is married; if you only communicated once a week, how long will the marriage last? The message in the Bible is hard. I get it. There are things I don’t like to read. But that doesn’t mean I discount God’s Word. It just means I truly don’t understand God’s ways or His thoughts. Francis Chan said in a message “When we disagree with the Bible, we assume the Bible is wrong; something is wrong with us not the Bible.” We have stinking thinking going on. The only way to correct our thinking is to get into God’s Word. God’s Word is the road map to God.

It’s time to invest some time into the relationship with God. There is no other answer for the craziness we are experiencing in this world today. We have to know the Truth. Get out God’s road map and start studying it so that you may know the right way to go, and you will not be lead astray by someone else’s stinking thinking!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Knock, knock

Who’s there? Jesus. Can I come in? This is no joke. How often does Jesus knock on our heart’s door, yet we ignore the invitation or just don’t hear Him? One of the reasons we don’t hear is because we don’t know His voice. The only way we will distinguish Jesus’ voice from all the others that bombard us daily is to know it through His Word. We have to get into the Word and read it; dare I say – not just read it but even study it.

For the last several weeks, my small group has been in the study of “Open Your Bible” by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams. To tell you the truth, I didn’t really get into this study. I am an avid Bible reader. I do it daily. It’s not that I lack the desire. I asked many years ago to have a hunger and thirst for Jesus. And since that time, I don’t think I have missed a morning time with His Word.

The study was really geared toward those who don’t read their Bibles. It was really good for that. The study shared how relevant the Bible is for here and now. It was Open, Approach, Engage, Apply, Abide and Live in the truth – even Share it with others. This is the formula for knowing God and knowing Jesus’ voice through the Holy Spirit.

To think there are millions who do not have access to God’s word is rather astonishing to me since I have many Bibles lying around. Yet, there are countries full of people who would give everything they have to just have one copy or even just a section. I read about believers in a closed nation who would receive one copy and would tear it apart so that it could be shared with others. They would swap books of the Bible with one another so that they could memorize each section. Yes, not just read it, but put it in their heart’s memory – they hid it in their hearts like it says to do! Amazing, isn’t it? And we in America have to have a study to “open our Bibles.” It’s like we have to be coerced to open God’s word. It’s such a challenge for us to spend time with God in His Word.

As I said, I don’t have a problem with reading it; I have a problem studying it. There are layers upon layers of truth within those pages. We can’t know it all in just one reading. It will take us through eternity to comprehend all that is contained inside. I can read it all day long, but I have to be able to understand what it says and apply its truth to my life. The understanding is a problem. There was a time when I would get into Paul’s letters and be completely puzzled by his words. I didn’t understand half the stuff I read in it. He was a deep thinker and wrote that way. But over time, God has opened my eyes to Paul’s writings. I finally can comprehend what I read because of the Holy Spirit’s help.

Priscilla Shirer’s simulcast was this past Saturday. In one of the sections, she went over how to study the Bible. She called it the 5 P’s of Bible study. She said it is one of the main ways we hear from God. God speaks through His Word. The first P is position. I don’t know if she started with prayer as the first position, but that is the most important aspect before opening the Bible. Ask for eyes to be open, ears ready to hear and a heart that is obedient to what is read.

Position ourselves spiritually ready to hear from God. Anticipate and expect to hear from Him. Pour over the passage and paraphrase what you read; what are the major points; what’s the context. Press into what was said and why – what’s going on around the text. Pull out the spiritual principles. What is God’s character in that passage – what is He saying through it? Pose the question – how is the passage speaking to me – am I doing what it says? And lastly, plan obedience. It does no good, unless I apply what I read – live it out as the authors stated from “Open Your Bible.”

Their last chapter was “close your Bible.” We have to go out, and do what it says. James, the half-brother of Jesus wrote – a faith that does not work is dead (my paraphrase). So the challenge isn’t reading, but studying and applying what I read. It’s relevant for here and now. It isn’t an ancient work or history lesson. It’s living and breathing. It’s God’s voice from Genesis to Revelation. Jesus is the subject from one page to the next. Old Testament is the set up for Jesus. The New Testament is His life and work and what’s to come. In every page, we hear His voice speaking. Are we ready to listen and do what He says? He’s knocking. Open the door and let Him in. Join me in studying His Word and share what you learn.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)

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