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We don’t have much without the Bible

We just returned from the Our Generation Summit in Gatlinburg. The one thing that the entire conference had in common was the fact that all we had to say and all that was possible to be preached required the Bible. The stunningly obvious is often so overlooked, but all the messages, songs and testimonies were based on some Bible verse or some stated Biblical truth. I thought for a moment today what it would be like to try a Summit without the Bible. I think about the countries that dont have the Bible in their language, or the countries in which it is illegal to own a Bible. I also think about how little those countries that have Bibles use them. The Bible may have become so common to us that it is invisible. I would say that to have a Bible and not use it is the same as not having one. Maybe worse.

How did the Bible change you today?

Now that is a comment

I received this comment on the “Jump Start Your Reading” post from Ruth Bassham. It was way too good to leave buried in the comments.

Thank you very much Ruth.

Don’t worry about how much you get read in a day, or whether you’re following the same pattern as someone else (chronological, Genesis to Revelation, some from Old and New each day, etc.) But DO read large portions through without skipping around, “pogo-sticking” through the Bible. Consider reading a book twice before going to the next book. Consider overlapping your reading each day (such as, read Chapters 1-4 today, then 2-6 tomorrow, 4-8 next, etc.). That gives you repetition and continuity. If you really want to digest a book or a portion, read it several or many times before you go on. It will make a huge difference in your comprehension, and you’ll see verses in their context like you’ve never seen them before. The Word of God is awesome, because God is awesome!

I love the overlapping the reading. I will be trying that out this week.

Jump start your reading

How many times have you started your Bible reading on January 1st? Most people I talk to that start reading (as a New Year’s resolution) their Bible again on January 1st and read to about Leviticus or Numbers before losing the discipline or the interest. They have read Genesis, Exodus and the first half of Leviticus 10 times but have never gone past that. Do you fall into that category? Here is some tips on how to break out.

1. Make a plan not to fail. Most of us make a plan to succeed and forget that whatever derailed the bible reading train the last ten times WILL show up again this time. You need a plan to overcome that discipline problem before it hits again. If you know you are going to get thirsty next week, start digging the well now. If it was a personal discipline problem, then get an accountability partner that will kick you in the pants if you miss a day. The best plans for success are thwarted by forgetting to deal with the issues that cause failure. You need a plan not to fail.

2. Personalize it. The Bible is meant to be lived out so look for the daily application. This will make the Bible personal. The Bible is all about how God wants to work in your life and is the most personal of all personal books. Its not about other people, its about your relationship with God. Look at it as a living book that will transform your life on a daily basis and work in you if you will let it. Make personal notes, print Scripture portions to keep in your shirt pocket for the day. Personalize it.

3. Forget January, start now. Isn’t it amazing that once we stop reading, we somehow feel we cannot start again until January. Not only that but we have to start “in the beginning” again. Here is a new strategy. Start now, and start where you left off last time. By starting now, where you left off, you can avoid feeling like a loser during Christmas for not reading your Bible through in a year, plus you will get through Leviticus and Numbers (incredibly interesting books) and be in new territory in January when the “others” (Greek for losers right?) are just starting over, again.

4. Get over your fear of how long and difficult the Bible is. Is it a long book? Is it hard to understand at first? Absolutely! Just like the high school chemistry book you never read. The difference is, the bible is THE book of aboslute truth and has daily solutions for your problem ridden life and eternal rewards for its application. Parts of the Bible are absolutely a mystery, and have to be for a very good reason. You can find out why in I Corinthians 2. Its also long like a good vacation. Once you learn to read and apply it, you will be thankful that we got a big portion and not a puny one.

5. Get a Bible without a bunch of commentaries and notes. Remember that the Bible is the best commentary on itself. Many people tell me that they will be reading along and find a word or a comment that is footnoted. That footnote then begins to explain something and invariably has a reference chain then that takes you on an excursion through the comentator’s writing and out of the Scripture. Remember, that the inspired portion (the Scripture) is not in the margin. Its in the middle. I like to do my reading either on my computer Bible or in my church Bible. My Church Bible has no notes and I can turn the ones in my computer Bible off. I can read the commentary some other time, but when I am reading the Bible, I want just Bible so I am not distracted. By the way, don’t let not having such a Bible keep you from starting. Get started and use your will power to stay out of the commentary part until you have read it through.

Don’t plan to start tomorrow. Start today, where you left off, or as close as you can remember to where you left off. Wouldn’t it be nice to have 37 days worth of reading done by the time the rest of them are just getting started?

The Bible was designed to be understood.

One of the most common barriers to Bible reading is that many feel it is hard to understand. Most of the lack of understanding is easily resolved with consistent and systematic reading. What i am talking about is not even what would be considered studying. I am talking about reading. Consider the benefits of daily reading.

The Bible is 66 separate books that all tell the same interwoven story of the redemption of the creation. The creation, fall and redemption of man as told by many different writers over several hundred years. The building blocks of understanding the New Testament are sitting in the old testament. The commentary that best explains the Old Testament is the New Testament. When Jesus was on the road to Emmaeus with the two disciples, He used the Old Testament to explain all that had just happened to Him. All those happenings were what was about to be written and called, the New Testament.

In Mat 15:10 Jesus calls the multitude together and says, “Hear, and understand:” All the words that Jesus said in His earthly life were carefully chosen to communicate exactly the message that the Father desired. To say “hear and understand” means that the Words are designed to be understood. God worked supernaturally with languages on the day of Pentecost so that they would understand. Jesus spent time with His disciples explaining the Scriptures to them. God has desired from the beginning that we would know Him and understand who He is.

The Scriptures will not be understood without some effort on our parts. Long before we were instructed to “study to show ourselves approved” (II Tim 2:15) we were told to “give attendance to reading” (I Tim 4:13). Reading must come before studying or there can be error. The Scriptures are finely balanced in that every verse supports every other verse. All the books support the other books and both testaments support each other.

Proverb of the Day

One practice I have for reading is to read the proverb of the day. Using a reading plan usually means that you start at chapter one and read a chapter or two a day. The problem is that you get out of the habit quick then restart, usually back at chapter one. You never feel like you get very far. Reading the proverb of the day means that the date of the day (like the 12th) means that you would read Proverbs 12 for that day. You will be amazed at how appropriate the instructions from the proverb are for that day.

If you discipline yourself and read the proverb of the day, then three great things will happen!

1. You will gain tremendous wisdom from the Proverbs that will guide you through the day.
2. You will read the book of Proverbs through 12 times in a year.
3. You will always know the date. (threw that one in for good measure)

Dont forget to put the Our Generation Summit on your calendar. It will be in Gatlinburg on the same days in December of this year that you read Proverbs 27, 28 and 29.

More on Using the Bible to Improve Your Prayer Life

Check out this article on the Sunday School Revolution about how to make a more meaningful prayer life out of the Scripture. This is alot like what Austin was teaching about praying the Psalms.

More on Using the Bible to Improve Your Prayer Life

Check out this article on the Sunday School Revolution about how to make a more meaningful prayer life out of the Scripture. This is alot like what Austin was teaching about praying the Psalms.

Accountability Tools

This came in as a comment from Austin Gardner. I thought you that dont read the comment sections should see this.

I actually learned to pray through the Psalms and the Scriptures from reading the life of George Mueller. I often wondered how those men could pray 4 and 5 hours a day without getting bored or going to sleep. Then one day in my reading I saw how Mueller said that he would read the Scriptures and turn them into a prayer.

Later in another book I saw where someone kept a prayer journal and of course I had heard of keeping the prayer list and putting down when God answered my prayers but the idea of the journal was to write down your prayers so that you could review them later and so you would have the discipline of getting alone with God and really thinking through what you were saying. I started reading my Bible and I started taking notes. I filled up journals and then threw them away.

Then while a missionary in Peru I learned the lesson of accountability. If I wanted to teach the young men how to be faithful in reading their Bibles I needed to have a tool. Word of Life had the Quiet Hour and did a form of this. Over the years it evolved with me until we would share each day what we had been reading. It went well.

Then I turned my into prayers. Then I started encouraging people long distance which was no longer difficult due to email. I now keep my prayer journal on a password protected and non visible blog. I then send my devotions to several different people each day.

It is a good way to be accountable and it is a good way to encouarage each other.

I hope you can get involved in doing just that.

Praying through the Psalms

The prayer list prayer life can become monotonous and without meaning after awhile. It is one of the reasons that most Christians struggle with maintaining a consistent prayer time. Keeping a list is not at all a bad thing, but if prayer becomes merely reading the list, then most likely the prayer life will diminish or even vanish.

An alternative to the prayer list prayer life is a method called praying through the Psalms.

By selecting five psalms each day and reading them as if you were the psalmist, you will literally become the one praying what the Psalmist said. You will also find that the psalmist faced much the same things that you face each day. This helps us put into words those things that trouble us but we find difficult to say, even to God. Pray the Psalm, putting yourself in the place of the Psalmist, and talking to God as if the conversation were between you and God alone. The Psalms are the Word of God as inspired by the Holy Spirit of God. God’s Words represent God’s will and He is always pleased with both. There is a Biblical promise that if we pray according to His will, we know that He hears us. (I John 5:14-15)

Start reading with the Psalm that is numbered the same as the day then add thirty, sixty, ninety and one hundred and twenty to the number until you have Prayed five Psalms. For instance, if today were the 15th day of the month, you would pray the 15th, 45th, 75th, 105th and 135th. Save the Psalm 119 for the last day of the month and do it by itself. This will also help you read the Psalms through twelve times in a year. While you are praying the Psalms, as things on your prayer list or on your heart come to mind, accept that the Holy Spirit is reminding you of those things and pray for them at that point.

Using the Psalms to guide your prayer life will break the monotony as well as praying according to the will of God and in a manner that is pleasing to Him.