Posted in Bible, Devotional, Personal Growth, Sermons, tagged Bible, Bible Study, Emmanuel Fellowship, New Testament, Old Testament, Read, Reading, Sweetwater, Texas on November 8, 2010|
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The Bible is the foundation of the Christian faith. It is our compass, our map, and our flashlight as we navigate the narrow path of life. The Bible is the plumb line by which we discern truth and comprehend the will of God.
The Bible points us to the heart of God, yet for all of its value, many Bibles find themselves collecting more dust than fingerprints.
There are many reasons our Bibles can find themselves neglected, but I believe every follower of Jesus carries a genuine desire to grow in their knowledge of the Word of God. The following are some personal and practical thoughts on developing a living relationship with God’s word.
DEALING WITH THE “DON’T WANT TO” – For one reason or another many people find themselves at a place of spiritual depression where they lack desire to engage the Word of God. Two tools to dealing with the “don’t want to” attitude are:
- Evict the manipulating thoughts that steal the authentic joy of reading the Word. This includes the end of accusers such as “ought,” “should,” and “more” in regard to Bible reading.
- Recognize this backward principle of God’s Kingdom: when it comes to Bible reading, the less you eat the less hungry you become, BUT the more you eat, the more hungry you become! If your hunger has diminished through neglect, make the decision to force-feed yourself from the Word, and you will develop a hunger for more of God’s Word.
DIGGING IN – So you have an open Bible in your lap, what next? Here are 5 simple tools I personally use to bring my Bible study to life.
- Read for the joy of encountering God’s truth. Attitude is essential. I choose to believe the promise of Psalm 16:11 when I encounter the Word of God, “You fill me with joy in Your presence.”
- Pray this simple prayer every time you open your Bible. “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Psalm 119:18).
- Read with your friends. My best Bible-reading friends are a highlighter and at least three different colors of pens. Turn your Bible into a rainbow of your response and interaction with God’s Word. I mark my Bible as if I were leaving a treasure map for my grandchildren to discover my heart through my interaction with God’s Word.
- Digest what you read. Digesting is just as important as reading; it is how the nutrients of God’s Word begin to strengthen our hearts. Pray over and consider what you have read. I strongly encourage you to journal your response and your wrestling matches with Scripture.
- Talk about it. Bring what God has taught you in secret out to the public. You will be amazed at how what you just read this morning applies to what someone is going through this afternoon. Talk about the Scriptures with your family, with your friends, and with your co-workers. This is not about bragging on your devotional life, but a time to minister out of the overflow of God’s activity in your life.
DIGGING DEEPER – Along with the daily choice to dig in to God’s Word, you will develop a desire to dig deeper into specific subjects, teachings, and truths found in the Bible.
- View the Bible as a mine full of precious gems that reveal the heart of God.
- Seek to understand the context of the Scriptures you read. Recognize the Bible was written by over 40 authors over the span of almost 2,000 years. Begin to understand the various geographical, political, and social contexts of the Bible. The Blue Letter Bible and Follow the Rabbi are two wonderful online sources for digging deeper into Scripture.
- Follow a thread. Once an idea from the Bible grabs your attention, continue to chase after it! Personal study of a fascinating topic can be one of the most invigorating tools to getting into the Word. My father-in-law once spent two years preaching through the book of Ephesians. I have found great joy in following threads such as: Pictures of Jesus in the Bible, Names of Jesus, Bible Verses About the Father, verses that include the phrase “But God,” Questions Jesus Asked, One Anothers in the Bible, and even The Begots of the Bible. Beauty of the Bible by Peter Lopez is another great site for fascinating Biblical exploration.
- Take a Drink from the Firehose! A wonderful way to dig deeper into the Word of God is to remove yourself from all time limits and distraction and enjoy huge chunks of the Scripture. Taking a Saturday morning to read through the story of the Patriarchs or reading through the book of Revelation in one sitting are amazing ways of grasping hold of some of the bigger pictures that are often missed when we take small bites of the Bible.
The Bible is alive and the Holy Spirit is ready and willing to breathe life into your study of the Scripture. Now go dig in!
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Posted in Bible, Christianity, Devotional, God, Jesus, Personal Growth, tagged Asked, Bible Study, Christianity, Gospels, Jesus, Morris Sheats, Questions on May 14, 2010|
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A few months back, Pastor Morris Sheats (one of my ministry heroes and mentors) shared about a sermon series he was preparing on the questions Jesus asked. This concept intrigued me, and I decided to jump into study of this topic myself.
I have been amazed by how masterfully our Lord uses questions to teach vital spiritual truths. Jesus never asked a question because he needed to know the answer. He used questions the way a surgeon uses a scalpel, to delicately cut into a new level of understanding.
Compiled here is a list of questions Jesus asked. Though it is probably not exhaustive, it is an extensive collection of interrogations still demanding answers of us.
I find myself amazed at the power of these questions to cut into my soul. I’d love to hear which question most jumps off the page and leaves you pondering as you read today.
- If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? (Matthew 5:46)
- If you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? (Matthew 5:47)
- Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 6:27)
- Why do you worry about clothes? (Matthew 6:28)
- Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3)
- Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? (Matthew 7:16)
- Why are you so afraid? (Matthew 8:26)
- Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? (Matthew 9:4)
- Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? (Matthew 9:5)
- How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? (Matthew 9:15)
- Do you believe that I am able to do this? (Matthew 9:28)
- What did you go out into the desert to see? (Matthew 11:7)
- To what can I compare this generation? (Matthew 11:16)
- If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? (Matthew 12:11)
- How can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? (Matthew 12:29)
- You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? (Matthew 12:34)
- Who is my mother, and who are my brothers? (Matthew 12:48)
- Why did you doubt? (Matthew 14:31)
- Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? (Matthew 15:3)
- How many loaves do you have? (Matthew 15:34)
- Do you still not understand? (Matthew 16:9)
- Who do people say the Son of Man is? (Matthew 16:13)
- Who do you say I am? (Matthew 16:15)
- What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26)
- How long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? (Matthew 17:17)
- From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes–from their own sons or from others? (Matthew 17:25)
- What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? (Matthew 18:12)
- Why do you ask me about what is good? (Matthew 19:17)
- What is it you want? (Matthew 20:21)
- Can you drink the cup I am going to drink? (Matthew 20:22)
- What do you want me to do for you? (Matthew 20:32)
- John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men? (Matthew 21:25)
- What do you think? (Matthew 21:28)
- Have you never read in the Scriptures? (Matthew 21:42)
- Why are you trying to trap me? (Matthew 22:18)
- What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he? (Matthew 22:42)
- Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? (Matthew 23:17-19)
- How will you escape being condemned to hell? (Matthew 23:33)
- Why are you bothering this woman? (Matthew 26:10)
- Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour? (Matthew 26:40)
- Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:53)
- But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way? (Matthew 26:54)
- Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? (Matthew 26:55)
- My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46)
- Why are you thinking these things? (Mark 2:8)
- Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? (Mark 4:21)
- What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? (Mark 4:30)
- Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith? (Mark 4:40)
- What is your name? (Mark 5:9)
- Who touched my clothes? (Mark 5:30)
- Why all this commotion and wailing? (Mark 5:39)
- Are you so dull? (Mark 7:18)
- Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’? (Mark 7:18)
- Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it. (Mark 8:12)
- Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? (Mark 8:17-18)
- When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up? (Mark 8:19)
- When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up? (Mark 8:20)
- Do you still not understand? (Mark 8:21)
- [To the blind man] Do you see anything? (Mark 8:23)
- Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? (Mark 9:12)
- What were you arguing about on the road? (Mark 9:33)
- Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? (Mark 9:50)
- What did Moses command you? (Mark 10:3)
- Why do you call me good? (Mark 10:18)
- What do you want me to do for you? (Mark 10:51)
- Why are you trying to trap me? (Mark 12:15)
- Do you see all these great buildings? (Mark 13:2)
- Are you asleep? (Mark 14:37)
- Could you not keep watch for one hour? (Mark 14:37)
- Why were you searching for me? (Luke 2:49)
- Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house? (Luke 2:49)
- Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? (Luke 5:22)
- Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? (Luke 5:23)
- Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)
- Where is your faith? (Luke 8:25)
- What is your name? (Luke 8:30)
- Who touched me? (Luke 8:45)
- Will you be lifted up to the skies? (Luke 10:15)
- What is written in the Law? How do you read it? (Luke 10:26)
- Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? (Luke 10:36)
- Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? (Luke 11:40)
- Who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you? (Luke 12:14-15)
- Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Luke 12:25)
- Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? (Luke 12:57)
- Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? (Luke 14:31)
- Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? (Luke 14:34)
- Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? (Luke 15:4)
- Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? (Luke 15:8)
- So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? (Luke 16:11)
- Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? (Luke 17:17)
- And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? (Luke 18:7)
- However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)
- For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? (Luke 22:27)
- Why are you sleeping? (Luke 22:46)
- For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry? (Luke 23:31)
- What are you discussing together as you walk along? (Luke 24:17)
- What things? (Luke 24:19)
- Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? (Luke 24:26)
- Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? (Luke 24:38)
- Do you have anything here to eat? (Luke 24:41)
- What do you want? (John 1:38)
- Why do you involve me? (John 2:4)
- You are Israel’s teacher, and do you not understand these things? (John 3:10)
- I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? (John 3:12)
- Will you give me a drink? (John 4:7)
- Do you want to get well? (John 5:6)
- How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God? (John 5:44)
- If you do not believe Moses’ writings how will you believe me? (John 5:47)
- Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat? (John 6:5)
- Does this offend you? (John 6:61)
- What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! (John 6:62)
- You do not want to leave too, do you? (John 6:67)
- Have I not chosen you? (John 6:70)
- Has not Moses given you the law? (John 7:19)
- Why are you trying to kill me? (John7:19)
- Why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? (John 7:23)
- Where are they? Has no one condemned you? (John 8:10)
- Why is my language not clear to you? (John 8:43)
- Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? (John 8:46)
- If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? (John 8:46)
- Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? (John 10:36)
- Are there not twelve hours of daylight? (John 11:9)
- Do you believe this? (John 11:26)
- Where have you laid him? (John 11:33)
- Do you understand what I have done for you? (John 13:12)
- Don’t you know me, even after I have been among you such a long time? (John 14:9)
- Who is it you want? (John 18:4,7)
- Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me? (John 18:11)
- Is that your own idea, or did others talk to you about me? (John 18:34)
- Why question me? (John 18:21)
- If I spoke the truth, why did you strike me? (John 18:23)
- Why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for? (John 20:15)
- Friends, haven’t you any fish? (John 21:5)
- Do you love me? (John 21:17)
- What is that to you? (John 21:22)
All Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.
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Posted in Bible, Christianity, Personal Growth, Word Study, tagged Bible Study, Blog, Emmanuel Fellowship Church, End Times, John, Revelation, Sweetwater, Texas, the revelation of Jesus Christ on October 27, 2009|
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I am excited to have officially kicked off our Tuesday lunch study of Revelation. It will take us a few weeks to settle into a routine and build rapport that will allow us to converse casually, but I have no doubt we will get there.
I am also very blessed to see that our facilitator plans to blog our weekly progress on his very snazzy looking new WordPress blog (surely Peter helped him get that thing started). You can join in the Revelation conversation by following along with Watchman Curtis each week.
The book of Revelation is, as Curtis puts it:
…the most intimidating, mysterious, confusing and ignored book of the Bible.
But, in the midst of the mystery and confusion, we discover that it is the only book in the Bible that carries its own promise of blessing to those who read, hear, and heed its words.
I truly look forward to this season of reading, hearing, and heeding the Revelation of my Lord Jesus, and I am thankful that even those of you who can’t join us for lunch on Tuesdays can still join in the study through The Watchman’s Gaze. I invite you to come follow along and be blessed!
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