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Archive for the tag “bible study”

Bible Study

[Originally posted as a note on Facebook on May 16, 2010]

This morning I had the privilege of teaching the Disciple Hour (Sunday School) lesson to the men in my church without a prepackaged lesson (for those who might be curious, it was on 1 Peter 4:12-19). I have no idea how well I did; I think I did an adequate job, but I really am not worried about it either way. It was a gracious blessing to me from God to be allowed that opportunity if for no other reason than it forced me to study God’s Word more in depth than what I am used to doing on my own. I have never been very good at studying, & when it comes to the Bible, I have often used the excuse that I don’t know how to study as a way to avoid really getting into God’s Word. Many times I feel like I don’t have time to put into it, but it is more likely that I don’t WANT to put in the time & effort that good Bible study requires. What I would like to happen is that I read God’s Word & He just blasts understanding into my mind; what typically happens is that I read a passage or two of Scripture, have some sort of basic understanding of what it means, & there is no carryover of what I have read into my life. I now realize (I think I’ve always know this) that in order to get much out of what I read of God’s Word, I have to put much into it (& I don’t mean adding to God’s Word). It requires both time & effort; for me, it requires the use of multiple sources & translations. BUT, the effort is worth it! I can’t expect to be able to breeze through the Bible; I am going to have to take small sections & spend days or weeks or months working my way through them. I plan to continue working my way through the Bible on a daily basis because I think I do retain some of it, and I can’t say that I’ve ever read it cover to cover before. If I improve my basic knowledge of the Bible, I think it will make it a little easier to gain deeper knowledge of it. However, I also now plan to spend considerable time in a small passage to gain a deeper understanding of it & a deeper love of God. For this effort, I will be praying the IOUS (see below), & I would appreciate any prayers that others would be willing to offer.

I–Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to selfish gain!-Psalm 119:36
O–Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.-Psalm 119:18
U–[…], unite my heart to fear your name.-Psalm 86:11b
S–Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.-Psalm 90:14

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Why Study the Psalms if I Don’t Get Them?

I’ve been trying to work my way through the book of Psalms & spend some time on each one using a commentary because I’ve always had trouble “getting” the psalms. I understand the basic gist of the psalms (or think I do), but they are generally not the inspiration & comfort to me that they are to so many people. Part of it is the structure of them; because they are poetry, I have a hard time understanding them. Call me shallow, but I’ve always had more difficulty with poetry that doesn’t rhyme (& many times I even have difficulty with that). Add to that the fact that the psalms are translated out of a foreign language with structural compositions that I have a hard time following, & it makes me want to just breeze through them to get them over with & just hope that God will somehow bless my mere completing of the task.

The bigger reason, I think, that they don’t have the effect on me that others seem to experience is that God has chosen to spare me of significant trials & sorrows to this point in my life (&, yes, I need to spend some time considering the implications of that based on some New Testament passages). Take the first 2 verses of Psalm 18 for instance (where I’m currently at in reading through the psalms):

“I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Now, I can accede to all that in my mind, but there is no significant sense of comfort there for me because I have not experienced that overwhelming need for a refuge & stronghold from my enemies whoever or whatever they may be.

So, does this mean that I have no reason to study these Scriptures more deeply & try to get more out of them? Absolutely not! And here are a few of the benefits I can see of studying them more in depth even though I do not experience them the way others do (in no particular order):

1. I may be able to point someone else to particular ones in the time of their distress.

2. God may more readily bring them to my own mind for comfort when I do experience trials & sorrows.

3. I will gain a better understanding & appreciation of the various attributes of God especially love, mercy, & faithfulness.

4. I may better see how the Old Testament looks forward to Christ & see Him in the Psalms (because, to quote Sally Lloyd Jones, “every story whispers his name” [The Jesus Storybook Bible])

5. I may gain a better understanding of poetry in general & in particular in how it is used in the Bible.

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