Posts tagged “bible”

9 Months of Silence

September 5, 2011

This has been an interesting year. I have been sticking with the 1-year reading plan (for the most part, but catching up when I fall behind). It’s been very enjoyable, but I almost feel like the pace is too fast to really let things sink in. As I read, I’ve been making notes of certain verses that stand out, places to which I want to return and dig deeper. Additionally, the Lord has provided some paid work (hallelujah!), which has taken up some of the time I would have used to formulate coherent devotionals. Don’t take the lack of posts as a sign that this site has been abandoned; there’s a lot kicking around in my mind that I hope to unpack and explore in the next few years here.

As an aside - if you follow either my personal blog or my tech blog, you’ve already read the “We’re back on WordPress” posts. This blog is included; it’s now back to running WordPress after a year on BlogEngine.NET. All the old links should redirect to new ones, and the goal is that you wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t said anything. :)

I leave you with a quick word of encouragement from yesterday’s sermon.

10If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

John 15:10 (ESV)

Have a great [period of time until we meet again]!

A Year in the Word

December 27, 2010

On the suggestion of a friend, I subscribed to the Daily Audio Bible (DAB) podcast. In this podcast, Brian Hardin reads the Bible through each year - 2010 is the fifth year. It’s been a blessing to me to listen to God’s Word, as well as enjoy some of his comments as well. (I’ll have to own up to skipping a good bit of the commentary, especially when I was trying to catch up a few days.) It was great to be able to listen while I did other things; however, this was a mixed blessing. I found that I would sometimes get distracted with the “other” thing that I was doing, and would mentally check out of the podcast. During one of these distracted times, I felt the Lord telling me that it was time to take the next step.

For this reason, beginning 2 Jan 10, I’ll be beginning a 52-week Bible reading plan, reading it the old-fashioned way, off words printed on paper. My main Christmas gift this year was an ESV Study Bible, and this will help put that to good use. One of the aspects of DAB that I liked was the community; I knew that, although I might be the only one listening to my computer, there were thousands others that were listening to Brian. Although my participation in that community could be described, at best, as a lurker, it encouraged me to have it there. To help encourage others, I’ve created a group on Facebook called Read the Bible in 2011. This group will function as a community where we’ll encourage each other along this journey. I’d like to invite you, my reader, to join me in this journey. The group is closed, but if you request access, just send me a separate message so I’ll know who you are.

While the goal is to read through the Bible in a year, we don’t want to go so quickly that we don’t have time to stop and listen to what God is trying to tell us in the passage of the day. So, the stated goal of reading through the Bible in 2011 is not really the goal; it is merely the means to the greater goal of allowing God to speak to us. I’m looking forward to it - won’t you join me?

 

Cross-posted at Daniel J. Summers

How to Study the Scriptures

October 17, 2007

This week, we’ll look at 2 Timothy 3:16 (and verse 17, to complete the sentence).

16All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (HCSB)

We know we should study the Bible. But why? When I was growing up, one of the questions they asked every Sunday, right at the start of Sunday School, was “who read their Bible every day last week?” We all wanted to be able to raise our hands; I remember, on the few occasions when I could not, I felt really bad. Back then, it wasn’t for the right reason (it was more that a lot of the other kids had their hands up), but it was the right feeling. Today’s Scripture gives us several great reasons why we should study the Bible.

First, we should study the Bible because It is Inspired by God. (“All Scripture is inspired by God…”) Inspiration literally means “God-breathed”, and is the basis of the Bible’s inerrancy (perfection). God moved through the authors to provide exactly what He wanted to. Revelation 22:18-19, while speaking directly about Revelations, speak a warning that applies to all Bible readers even today…

18I testify to everyone who hears the prophetic words of this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book. 19And if anyone takes away from the words of this prophetic book, God will take away his share of the tree of life and the holy city, written in this book.

Revelation 22:18-19 (HCSB)

Second, we should study the Bible because It teaches us. (“and profitable for teaching…”) Teaching is the act of imparting knowledge. Studying the Bible can increase our knowledge, and help us develop a proper Biblical world view. Being knowledgeable about Biblical principles can help us when we encounter new situations that may not be directly addressed in Scripture.

Third, we should study the Bible because It reproves us. ("…for reproof…") Reproof is “an act or expression of criticism and censure.” (WordNet) The Bible can call us out when we fail to live us to the standards within It.

Fourth, we should study the Bible because It corrects us. ("…for correction…") Correction is “the act of offering an improvement to replace a mistake; setting right.” (WordNet) This flows naturally after reproof, and is really one of the great things about the Bible that a lot of Christians miss. It not only tells us when we do wrong (and what we do wrong), It tells us how to make it right!

Fifth, we should study the Bible because It shows us God’s righteousness. ("…for training in righteousness;") Righteousness is not something we can do on our own; rather, it is given to us (imputed) based on Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. We are declared to have kept the law (something we cannot do on our own) because of Jesus’ ability to keep the law. Training in righteousness helps us live up to the gift we have been given.

Sixth, we should study the Bible because It equips us. (“so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”) A soldier wouldn’t go to war without the proper equipment. The Bible is our main weapon in spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6:17 expresses it this way.

17Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s Word.

Ephesians 6:17 (HCSB)

That covers the “why”, but the title of this devotional starts with the word “how.” Paul covered that too, but he did it in a different order than we did. In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul writes…

15Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 (HCSB)

The answer is diligence. Reading the Bible every day, as asked by my Sunday School teachers many years ago, is an important part of Bible study. It will also help us interpret It accurately - by acquainting ourselves with the Bible, we will have no reason to be ashamed. This is important, as certain verses can be taken out of context and twisted to support an argument that is not Biblical. For example, a church used Luke 4:7 as it’s theme verse…

7If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.

Luke 4:7 (KJV)

This sounds like an excellent promise, doesn’t it? There’s only one teensy-weensy problem with this. Let’s read the verse in its context, Luke 4:5-7 (back to the HCSB, although the capitalization gives it away)…

5So he took Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6The Devil said to Him, “I will give You their splendor and all this authority, because it has been given over to me, and I can give it to anyone I want. 7If You, then, will worship me, all will be Yours.”

Luke 4:5-7 (HCSB)

That doesn’t sound quite so good now, does it?

I pray that we will have the diligence to study God’s Word as we should, and that we can use what we learn to improve our relationship with Him, and our discernment in spiritual things.

How to Interpret the Scriptures

July 18, 2007

Today, we take a look at 2 Peter 3:16.

16He speaks about these things in all his letters, in which there are some matters that are hard to understand. The untaught and unstable twist them to their own destruction, as they also do with the rest of the Scriptures.

2 Peter 3:16 (HCSB)

The “he” in the beginning of the verse is Paul, who wrote many of the letters that are now books in the New Testament. This is a good recommendation from a fellow minister, but it comes with a couple of warnings.

First, Peter warns the church that some of the things which Paul has written to them are difficult to understand. This is certainly true - even today, there is often spirited debate over the meaning of some of the things Paul wrote. Of course, rather than just listening to debate, and deciding which side is more convincing, it is important to search the Scriptures and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal its interpretation. And, knowledge without application is useless - once you have determined what the Scripture says, that knowledge needs to be put into action.

The second warning Peter has for the church is that the “untaught and unstable” will try to twist what the Bible says. Man has been doing this since, quite literally, just after Creation. Let’s look at the first recorded twisting of God’s Word. God gave Adam and Eve specific instructions regarding the Garden of Eden.

16And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, 17but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.”

Genesis 2:16-17 (HCSB)

But when Eve is talking to the serpent a few verses later, she gets it… well, not quite right.

2The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. 3But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’”

Genesis 3:2-3 (HCSB)

Now, we don’t know whether it was Eve who got it wrong here, or if it was Adam who amplified God’s warning when he was telling Eve what God had said. But either way, what God said is not faithfully represented in Eve’s answer to the serpent. And, just as the Bible begins with this story illustrating (among other things) twisting God’s words, it ends with a warning as well.

18I testify to everyone who hears the prophetic words of this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book. 19And if anyone takes away from the words of this prophetic book, God will take away his share of the tree of life and the holy city, written in this book.

Revelation 22:18-19 (HCSB)

I don’t know if you’ve read the book of Revelation all the way through or not; if you have, you know that you certainly don’t want all the plagues of that book added to you!

Another application of these warnings applies to selecting a version of the Bible to use for study. Before making assumptions, research the translation philosophy, and whether the version is a literal translation or a paraphrase. Using more than one version can help you understand a tough passage.

The key in interpreting the Scripture is to be sure that you know what It says. Don’t rely on what other people say about It - what does It say? I pray that we will all study the Scriptures, and allow God to reveal His interpretation of it to us.

(Note - we’ll discuss more on Bible study when we get to 2 Timothy 3:16.)