Steps for Reading Your Bible

Steps for Reading Your Bible

STEPS FOR READING YOUR BIBLE

For Christmas this past season, I purchased an iPhone for my wife. I must say, it was a great gift and she was very pleased with my selection and color. What was interesting to us both was how a complex device has such easy instructions to begin. A very simple step by step instruction guide that was built into the phone.

So then, when it comes to studying the Bible, why does it seem so difficult? Think about it…There are 66 books in the bible in two sections the old / new testament, written over the course of 2000 years by 40 different writers contributing to the exact same story of the Messiah. Books written on history, philosophy, theological thinking, systematic thinking, poetry, music, personal letters to people, to churches, to countries, books on rules, parables or illustrations, sex, love, the future. Honestly, it can feel pretty overwhelming.

Where should I even begin?

You might feel like the Bible is difficult and hard to know where to start, and that’s okay. But it doesn’t need to feel that way, so I want to give you a few practical steps to get started:

Before you begin:

  • Find a place that is quiet and uninterrupted for 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Open your new Bible from Mission Hills Church to the Book of John. Consider purchasing a NIV Study Bible from Amazon or Lifeway Bookstores. I would recommend the Ryrie Study Bible.
  • Get a notebook or journal to write your thoughts down in (when you write something down, you will remember it longer).
  • Pray a simple prayer, talk to God and ask Him to open your heart and mind to His Word.

Begin:

  • Half of the battle is just getting started, and starting in Genesis can feel overwhelming. The book of John tells the story of Jesus’ ministry and is a great place to begin.
  • Read a section of verses (5 to 10) with a natural break and ask the following 4 questions:
    • Summary | What is the consistent theme of these verses?
    • Observation | What are these verses saying?
    • Interpretation | What do these verses mean?
    • Application | What will I do about it?

Finishing:

  • Personal Application is most important in reading and studying God’s Word. This is about allowing what God says in His world to change our hearts and lives.
    • What is God saying to me in these verses?
    • How am I going to apply these verses in my life?
    • What changes am I seeing as a result of reading and applying God’s Word?

Just like anything, it may take time to create a rhythm and be disciplined. Don’t give up! Remember that reading the Bible isn’t about fulfilling a check list of verses to read, it’s about taking the time to meet with God, listen to Him and begin to hear His voice in your life – day to day.

Seeking God in the Meantime

Seeking God in the Meantime

SEEKING GOD IN THE MEANTIME

We all face them, those seasons in life where we feel like we are in between “promised-lands.”  Internally, we may feel like we lack any purpose or direction and this emotion can swell up inside of us, despite having full schedules and busy lifestyles.  Deep down inside we are still eagerly waiting for God to direct our path in undeniable ways.

These “in-between” seasons of life can feel like the “wilderness” narratives in the Bible, where God is testing, purifying, transforming or preparing his people—including Jesus—for what he had in store for them next.

The danger you and I face today is facing these journeys with impatience, believing they are a waste of time and serve no purpose.  Sometimes we face these wilderness seasons with contempt, saying, “If only God would show me where to go, I would then follow and be able to honor and glorify Him.  But right now, I’m not sure what’s going on or what I’m supposed to do!” Especially in those places, there’s a risk we won’t perceive how the wilderness is God’s providence or how being faithful to the journey is how we honor God the best. 

JESUS IN THE WILDERNESS

In Matthew 4:1-11, we read about Jesus’ time in the wilderness. Consider his journey in the wilderness while starving, thirsty and physically exhausted.  Had we been in Jesus’ situation, how many of us would have succumbed to Satan’s temptations?  Had Jesus’ time in the wilderness been a pointless endeavor, he likely would not have journeyed through it.  Yet, he endured strong temptations that enticed his basic needs, such as food.  Rather than giving in, with every temptation He pressed deeper into His Father and relied on Scripture. 

Two of Jesus’ responses were quotations from a section in Deuteronomy that are rooted deep within the identity of the Jews and should also be rooted deep in the heart and identity of every Christian.  The command in Deuteronomy 6:4 is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.”  Jesus quotes two verses that appear later in Deuteronomy 6 and echo this command, as a response to Satan’s temptations.

In Matthew 4:7, Jesus responds to Satan’s temptation by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16 which says, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”  Then again in Matthew 4:10, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:13 which says, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”  These two quotations from Deuteronomy 6 echo the command to the love the Lord.  What’s important to realize is that Jesus’ focus, while being tempted and journeying in the wilderness, was to cling to the heart of his identity and ours, “To love the Lord with all your heart.”

HOLD FAST TO FAITH

To put it shortly, whatever season you are in—whether you are in the wilderness or in the promised land—being faithful by loving God while you’re in that place is a God-honoring act. 

Perhaps we struggle to find ways to honor God in the meantime because we imagine feats of grandiosity that can only be achieved while being in the “promised-land.”  However, what grander thing can there be but to press deeply into our own relationship with Jesus? Honoring God in the “meantime” means to press into God more deeply, and cleave to Scripture just as Jesus did,

This week take a few moments during each day to pray with intentionality while reflecting on scripture.  Communicate with God about your struggles and your desire to hear from Him.  Use these reflective moments to be open and honest with yourself before your God who loves you.

You can accept the reality of your situation today and fight to maintain your hope in God. He hasn’t left you, wherever you are.