Summary: Studying the Bible can seem intimidating and overwhelming, but God never meant it to be so. Tonight we’ll discover some things that will make it a whole lot more inviting.
The book we call the Bible is a vital part of our lives as believers. Without it we would have no way of knowing God as we do. We wouldn’t know the reason our lives were filled with sorrow and pain and tragedy and guilt. We wouldn’t know that He had provided a solution for those things. We wouldn’t know that God loves us with a love that has no end and that is unconditional. We wouldn’t know how to become a child of God, how to live life as a child of God, or what eternity will look like for the children of God. We wouldn’t know where to look for the real and true solutions to the dilemmas that we face in our lives. We wouldn’t know where to look for hope, where to look for help, or where to look for peace.
As unbelievers we tried it without the Book – we still do sometimes, even as believers. Yet, there is always something that draws us back to the truth we know. And, where do we find that truth? In the Bible, the Word of God.
Tonight I want to take some time and talk about something that is uncomfortable and, very often, intimidating for many people: studying the Bible.
Now, I’m not going to go into a treatise on all of the technical tools available to help with the etymology of the words in the Bible from their original languages, the books available that will explain the social customs of the times the Bible was written in, or the complex tools available for the seminarian and the scholar. What we are going to look at is how everyday Christians can read and study and learn from the Bible in a clear and understandable way that will transform lives every day. See, the Bible is there for us to gain understanding of the nature and character of God so that we can know and love and serve Him better – every day.
Both texts talk about two things: 1) how to approach the Word of God; and, 2) what the blessing is that comes from doing so. The promised blessing is, of course, that we will be prosperous. Does that mean financial prosperity? It may, depending on how much of that God knows we can handle appropriately. Some people would fall away from God and fall into sin or be overwhelmed by wealth. God knows this and, in His love for us, will not allow us more than we can handle. Interesting, isn’t it, that we don’t have a problem accepting the promise that He won’t allow more of the bad stuff than we can handle but we don’t like so much the promise that He also won’t allow more of the “good stuff” than we can handle?
Each of us needs a different prosperity than others around us do. Some need prosperity in their relationships. Some need prosperity in their ministry, others in their finances, others in their health, others in the restoration of their family, and still others in their prayer and devotional life. God knows what areas you need to prosper in. Just entrust that to Him and focus on doing your part. That will suffice.
Okay, now on to how to study the Bible with meaning and purpose and receive all that God has for you through that.
The first way we have to approach the study of the Word with is consistently. Look at Joshua 1:8 and Psalm 1:2. Both verses contain the same phrase that signifies consistency: “day and night”. Does this mean that we are to have our nose buried in our Bible every moment of every day? No; but it does mean that we are to have His Word in our minds and in our hearts every-day-all-day. It is never to “depart from our mouths”. It is supposed to be a living part of our life, just like breathing or eating. In fact, look at what Job says in Job 23:12:
(ASV) I have not gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured up the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.
(BBE) I have never gone against the orders of his lips; the words of his mouth have been stored up in my heart.
(ESV) I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.
(KJVA) Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.
(NASB) I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth (in my breast) more than my necessary food (prescribed portion).