Rockport Sermon

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bible Reading 101

One of our members emailed me recently with a great question. He asked,
"I'm not getting enough in my daily reading. How do I read the Bible in a way that I'm getting fed on my own time? Seems like I'm just reading just to read lately. I want to be able to really dive in and dig through it. Is there some way of doing this?
Here is my answer. Does anyone else have a suggestion to add?

First of all, I think I see one problem. Always keep one foot in the New Testament. Even when I'm reading through the Old, I always spend a bit of time in the New. That's where the clearer light is found, and therefore the most life.

Second, before I read, I spend just a moment seeking God's help through the Holy Spirit to open my eyes to truth, and warm my heart with it. I've found Piper's little series of requests called IOUS a great help...

I — Incline my heart to Your testimonies (Psalm 119:36)
O — Open my eyes that I might behold wonderful things in Your Word (Psalm 119:8)
U — Unite my heart to fear Your name (Psalm 86:11)
S — Satisfy me in the morning with your steadfast love... (Psalm 90:14)

A little time in prayer seeking God's face, always helps me read with open eyes.

Third, realize that your heart is encumbered by the flesh and very weak, so that at times it may feel like nothing's getting through. Someone said there are three stages or phases to Bible reading

(1) The Caster Oil (or medicine) Phase - You know it's good for you, but it sure doesn't taste very good. You just take it because you should.

(2) The Cornflakes Phase - It's kind of dry, but again, you know its nutritious, and so you keep chewing, knowing that it won't be cornflakes every meal

(3) The Peaches and Cream Phase - This tastes great! Wow, You can't get enough! It's wonderful!

It would be nice if every time you read it's like #3! But life just doesn't work that way, and neither do we. So you persevere through the tougher times, knowing there will be times when you will delight in the truth.

And then, fourth, I should mention that biblical insight is cumulative. You know how snow accumulates? One little flake doesn't amount to much. But little by little, millions a flakes can add up to a great deal of snow on the ground. In the same way, your life is rarely changed in a perceptible way by one morning of Bible reading. It's the cumulative process of reading day in and day out that begins to "pile up" in the process Paul calls "Renewing your mind" (Rm 12:1-2). So keep at it, seeking wisdom at every turn.

Oh, and one more thing. I've found it helpful to keep a small notebook handy so I can record any stirrings of my heart, or insights into God's truth. I'll write it down and review it later. Or if I find something during my reading that I'd like to investigate further, I jot that down as well.

Finally, keep your focus as you read. And what is that focus? To see Christ! To learn of Him and His ways. To discover the character and attributes of God as He has displayed Himself in the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. Don't just read looking for a "devotional thought" or one of those "what does this say about me" applications. What does this reveal about God! Who He is! What He's done! How He can be trusted! Strive to see God as He has revealed Himself in Christ. That's where I move very quickly into "peaches and cream"..and some times shouting and singing and saying, "oh what a God we serve"

Hope this helps!


Jason Vaughn said...

This is great idea. Thanks to ll three of you.

Terry Delaney said...

Here is a link to a bookmark that can be printed off on your computer (front and back) to place in your Bible that I designed for Dr. Whitney. It will help you to meditate on Scripture while you are reading.

Valerie Hunter said...

Those are great ideas! Thanks for posting them. I especially liked the prayer from Piper and writing down things that stir your heart. I am excited about your new blog!


Scott said...

Valerie, Praise the Lord, I pray it will be a help to many.