How to read the Bible

Good Nutrition  |  HTB  |  17th February 2013

Why?

Jesus said:  "I have come that you might have life and life to the full."- John 10:10

"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." - John 17:3

"You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me." - John 5:39

We read the Bible so that we can get to know Jesus.


How?

What you need:

You need 5 things (that all begin with p!) 

  • Purpose
  • Plan
  • Pattern
  • Place
  • Pen & Paper
  • (and a Bible)

Purpose - To get to know Jesus.   Plan - Bible in One Year, or just go through a book in order.   Pattern - Do it daily.   Place - Somewhere special with few distractions.   Pen & Paper - it shows God you care what he says and helps you remember.

What to do:

  • Pray
  • Read
  • Meditate
  • Pray
  • Practice

Pray a short prayer (Jesus I pray we have a good time). Read a bit of scripture. Meditate on it. Pray that God would help you put it into practice that day. Practice doing it that day.

"Its not how many times you get through the Bible but how much of it gets through you." - Rick Warren

How to meditate:

Not emptying your mind but thinking about the text so you can put it into practice.

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."  - James 1:22

Different methods:

  • Poke it
  • Pronounce it
  • Picture it
  • Probe it
  • Paraphrase it
  • Pray it

As a kid we had a cat and I would gently poke it to see what it would do and depending on its mood I would get different reactions. This is what I am thinking of when I use this method. I am simply poking the text to see what comes out.

  1. Read the text
  2. See what you notice (that is interesting, i’ve never heard that before, how does that work?) 
  3. Underline or write it down
  4. Focus on one or two and turn them into practical applications

A useful method for short Bible verses that speak directly at you.

  1. Read the verse aloud
  2. Repeat and each time emphasise and focus on a different key word
  3. Write your thoughts about each word down and use this to ask questions of yourself

For example:

"Let the word of Christ dwell within you richly." - Colossians 18:6

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.

  • This is something I have to allow.
  • This isn't something that will force itself on me.
  • I am active in the process.
  • Don't hinder it, because you can.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.

  • Not just stay over for a while but dwell
  • Make oneself at home

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.

  • Let it dwell richly
  • Not poorly
  • Move the furnature around, redecorate

Then turn these thoughts into questions:

  • Is the word of Christ living in me?
  • Is it living in me richly or poorly?
  • How am I inhibiting the word of Christ living in me?

    This method works best for narrative scriptures.

    1. Picture the scene in your mind
    2. Picture yourself as an active participant within the story
    3. Ask how would I feel?, What would I say?, What would I do?

    For example:

    In Mark 2 there is the story of the paralysed man being lowered through the roof before Jesus.

    Imagine that you are the man on the mat:

      • What expressions do you see on your friends faces looking down?
      • What expression does Jesus have as you interrupt his teaching?
      • How do you feel being lowered down in front of this crowd?

      Then apply it:

      • Where do I feel paralysed in my life now?
      • Where do I need my friends help to come before Jesus? 

      Then repeat it with other characters:

      • How would I feel as the homeowner whose roof just got wrecked?

      Probe the text by asking questions of it. Thanks to Rick Warren for his acrostic SPACE PETS (no link, it just makes it easy to remember). Each question has a verb in it to make it easy to turn into an action for that day.

      Questions:

      • S. Is there SIN to confess?
      • P. Is there a PROMISE to claim? (Promises have premises, God says if you do this then I'll do that…)
      • A. Is there an ATTITUDE to change? 
      • C. Is there a COMMAND to obey?
      • E. Is there an EXAMPLE to follow? (A positive example to copy or a negative example to avoid?)

       

      • P. Is there a PRAYER to pray?
      • E. Is there an ERROR to avoid?
      • T. Is there a TRUTH to believe?
      • S. Is there SOMETHING to praise God for?

      Take what the Bible says and put it into your own words. 

      In a discussion you would say to someone: “Is this what you mean?” and then you would repeat it in your own words. “Did I take it that what you said was....” Explain the passage in your own words. There are about 14,000 different words in the Greek and Hebrew Bible but in the English only around 7000. There is a lot of room for synonyms.

      For example:

      "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." - Psalm 119:11

      My paraphrase:

      I have memorised your word lord so that I won't give into temptation.


      Pray the verse or passage back to God. Some people think that this is what the Psalms are, that the writers memorized the Old Testament and then prayed it back to God.

      1. Put the passage into the first person singular
      2. Turn it into a prayer and pray it back to God.

      For Example: Psalm 23

      'Thank You, Lord, for being my Shepherd, and that I lack nothing. Thank You for making me lie down in green pastures, for leading me beside the quiet waters, for restoring my soul. Thank You for guiding me in the paths of righteousness for Your name's sake.'