Let’s face it. Many never get started reading and studying the Bible.
First, let’s talk about the obstacles.
1. Clarity. The Bible can be a bit intimidating so where do we start? Not knowing what we want can keep us from ever starting. Why not set a goal to read five days a week?
2. Competence. Let me assure you that whether you are brand new to reading the Bible or have studied it for years you will always feel a somewhat incompetent. But that should drive you to the Bible, not away from it. Over time you will hone your skills and feel at home in your Bible. It will take time, but you must not delay starting.
3. Commitment. All of us are busy. But clearly Christ-followers see the Bible as important. It is simply going to boil down to discipline. So schedule it. Put it on the calendar.
4. Courage. This is similar to point #2, but the focus is on fear. You may fear that after a week or two you just can’t do it. Or you are afraid that you will quit. Or that you will attend a small group and have nothing to share. Or worse, what you share will not fit what the Bible is actually saying. When you started eating you missed your mouth with the spoon. My guess is you are still eating, but have learned how to hit your mouth every time. Same with the Bible. So don’t let fear keep you from getting started.
Game Plan for Getting Started
1. Purchase a Bible you will actually read. Trust me on this one. Different people like different translations. Carol and I both grew up reading the KJV. However, when we got married I bought her a NASB and she loved it and loved reading the Bible much more. Go online and read some out of the NASB, ESV, NLT, NIV, KJV, NKJV, and the NEB. You can go to www.youversion.com
to check them out. Also you may want to experiment a little at
which has the NEB along with some notes. I have given the initials but once you begin searching they will all make sense. Also you may want to start out with a Life Application Study Bible. It only comes in a few translations though. However, it is very helpful and is a great place to start. I say that but it has some insightful scholarly notes also.
2. Take advantage of the Bible reading plan in the weekly bulletin at New Hope Church. That will get you through the New Testament every two years. You’ll notice I keep colored pencils next to my Bible. I encourage you to write in your Bible and use a variety of colored pencils for various subjects. Develop your own personal system as to which color you will use. For instance, I use red for verses that deal with the cross, salvation, and Jesus.
3. You will need a Concordance but can typically do word and phrase searches digitally at no cost at www.biblegateway.com
If you want a hard copy then you will likely want the NIV Concordance.
4. Next it is helpful to have a Bible Dictionary like The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary which is full of helpful articles, full-color maps, and graphics.
5. Another handy reference book is Eerdmans Handbook to the Bible. Once again, a lot of these resources will raise your level of confidence and get you up to speed at a much faster rate.
7. Keep a notebook handy and write down any observations and questions you have from the text you are reading. You don’t have to have answers now, but you will not forget. Also, you may prefer to do your reading online and store your notes their. Plus you can do the same thing on your phone or tablet.
8. Ask questions while you read. Joshua 1:8 talks about meditating on the Bible. That word has the idea of muttering, talking to the Bible. Talk to the Bible and it will talk back to you. So ask questions like:
* Is there an example to follow?
* Is there a sin to avoid?
* Is there a prayer to repeat or does the verse bring a prayer to mind that I can pray right now?
* Is there a command to obey?
* Is there a verse to memorize?
9. At this point it can be very helpful to have a commentary at your side. I recommend that you start out with a one-volume commentary like The Moody Commentary on the Whole Bible. It also comes in a digital version. You certainly don’t want to reach a wrong conclusion and say what the Bible is not saying. So having a solid commentary can help you stay on track and aid even more to your understanding of the Bible.
You don’t have to do all nine to get started. Actually a Bible is all you need. However, every prospector likes to have a few extra tools in the bag. The more tools the more likely you will enjoy all the nuggets you are able to mine from the Bible.
Being human means you know all about slander and false accusations. Kids do it, teens do it, and even adults do it. And yes, it hurts despite the famous words, Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
Our three natural responses include:
1. Accuse back.
2. Blow up and loudly protest.
3. Attempt to vindicate ourselves.
For some reason, those just don’t seem to do the job. So what do we do?
The seventh Psalm provides some insight. David, the king of Israel, has been the recipient of slander and false accusations. And it hurt. So what does he do? Let’s break it down into three parts.
1. He turned to God. Growing up we sang a song with the words “take it to the Lord in prayer.” So easy, yet not always our first choice.
Psalm 7:1 (ESV) O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge;
save me from all my pursuers and deliver me,..
2. He told God how he felt. David knew in his heart that he was not guilty of the accusations. Yes, God already knows, but it will help you immensely and will also reinforce to you the lack of validity in the false accusations. One of the results will be less emotional hurt. That’s what prayer does. It allows God to bear some of your pain.
Psalm 7:3-4 (ESV) O Lord my God, if I have done this,
if there is wrong in my hands,
4 if I have repaid my friend with evil
or plundered my enemy without cause,
3. Finally, David trusted God. There was really nothing he could do, but leave it in God’s hands.
If you will do all three, you’ll feel better. I love the way David finished.
Psalm 7:17 (ESV) I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness,
and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.
As we enter another year there is at least one word many people would love to see describe 2013. That is the word stability.
Think about it. One of the chief concerns of the Federal Reserve is stable prices. Of course, I’m sure we all want stable prices. But we want even more.
We want stable….
And the list goes on. But what’s the secret to being blessed with stability? When building a house it is typical to brace walls until they are securely fastened to other walls. Otherwise they are susceptible to wind.
However, for us as individuals what is the secret to stability in our lives? What is it that makes us “blessable” regarding stability?
Let me suggest that it is related to your attitude towards the Bible.
Psalm 1:1-4 (NASB) “How blessed is the man….his delight is in the law of the LORD…He will be like a tree firmly planted by the streams of water…in whatever he does, he prospers…the wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.”
2013 may brings all sorts of storms and disruptions into your life. While the winds may blow into your life, decide right now as the New Year starts, that this year you will delight in the Word of God. You may be pleasantly surprised by the stability you experience in 2013.