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Generational Christianity September 10, 2015

Posted by TJ Friend in Encouragements.
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I want to talk about something that has been on my mind recently. I read this passage and it got me thinking about the interaction between generations of people, especially those who believe in God.

The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel.

Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.

10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals.12 They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the Lord’s anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. (Judges 2:7-13)

This passage is found at the beginning of the book of Judges and tells the result of Joshua’s death. To recap – the Israelites were given a promise (through Abraham) to receive a certain portion of land as their own. God had miraculously delivered the people from Egypt and led them on a journey to this promised land. The generation of people delivered from Egypt ended up dying in the wilderness because of their lack of faith. The next generation, led by Joshua, went throughout the land defeating the people living there. As it says in Josh 2:7, “The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the elders who outlived him and had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel”. This second generation saw God fighting for Israel and helping them to defeat armies much greater than them. They saw God stop up the waters of the Jordan so they could cross over, they basically defeated Jericho just by marching around it and they even saw the sun stand still. They had every reason to believe God and follow him.

What saddens me about this passage is verse 10 – “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who neither knew the Lord nor what he had done for Israel”.  Probably the most important time in Israelite history was when God delivered them from Egypt. Not only did God prove his power over the Egyptians with the 10 plagues, but He literally parted the Red Sea so that they could walk across on dry ground. God proved once and for all that He was the only true God. Now, only two generations later, the people have no knowledge of what God did for His people.

Back in the book of Deuteronomy God specifically told the people to keep the commandments and “impress them” on their children.

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

10 When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (Deut 6:6-12).

In this passage, He even warns them not to forget the Lord. God’s intention was not that one generation would be blessed and honor Him. God wanted future generations to follow Him as well. God even had the people set up things to help them remember. He instituted the Passover so that they would always remember their deliverance from Egypt. He even had them set up altars like the one in Joshua 4 (after they had crossed the Jordan on dry land) to help remind the future generations.

When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe,and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”

So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites,to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Josh 4:1-7)

So, what does all this mean? It means we need a shift in our perspective. We are naturally prone to forget what God has done for us. We have a tendency to think only about ourselves and our own current situation. I think these passages challenge us to broaden our perspective. We need to think generationally. When God does things for us, it is not simply for our benefit so that we can rest in His goodness. This primarily happens in the family. I actually believe that one of the reasons God instituted families was to instill the knowledge of God to the next generation. Even if children end up turning away from God, there is no excuse for someone to be born into a Christian home and not know about God.

When we look at the results of the Israelites who grew up not knowing God, we see they defaulted into idolatry and ended up incurring God’s wrath. The whole book of Judges repeats this cycle, where God would raise up a judge to save Israel, they would follow that leader until he died and then the next generation would fall back into the same sin patterns which would lead to them being taken over by other nations and God having to raise up another judge for them. The cycle would have broken if they could have carried over the dedication to serve God from one generation to the next.

We have a responsibility to take what God has done and share it with the next generation. This doesn’t just apply to those who are married with a family. We as part of the family of believers have a responsibility to share God’s goodness with the younger generation as well. We need more spiritual fathers and mothers in the Church who are willing to share what God has done for them and disciple others in the teachings of Christ.

It seems, especially in America, we are extremely individualistic. We have a hard time thinking of the Church outside of our own personal relationship. We are called to be a unit, a body, working together and supporting each other, not isolated units that share common beliefs. This individualism makes us miss God’s heart. God is eternal and his desire is that generations would be saved. We are so focused on our own individual link in the chain that we forget that we are part of a bigger chain that stretches through time as parents share with their children and those children share with their children.

I would encourage those who are older in the faith to intentionally seek out younger people to share with. Spend some time with them and let them know what God has done for you. For those who are younger, make an effort to get to know the older generation of believers. Listen and learn from their experience and knowledge. Don’t miss out on what they have to offer.

What did you come out to see? (Luke 7:24-26) June 1, 2014

Posted by TJ Friend in Specific Passages.
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I was thinking about a passage recently: Luke 7:24-26. I want to talk a little about this specific section, but I wanted to put the rest of the passage so that you could see it in its context (see below). I have heard a lot of sermons in my life, and there are certain passages that get preached over and over again, while others get skipped altogether. I personally have never heard anything on Luke 7:24-26, although I have at least heard pastors mention some of the Scriptures around it. I’ve heard pastors talk about verses 18-23, usually making the point that Jesus’ proof that he was the Messiah was found in the miraculous things he did.

I’ve also heard a lot about verse 28 – “…the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (speaking of John the Baptist). This is somewhat of a difficult saying, but I think he is talking about the beginning of the new covenant. John the Baptist was the final prophet before Jesus came. He preached repentance and holiness, but it wasn’t until Jesus came and ushered in the Kingdom of God that people had the opportunity to be fully and completely cleansed of their sins. All those after John who believe in Jesus are no longer slaves to sin (Rom 6) and don’t have to worry about continually offering animal sacrifices to be cleansed from their sins.
All that is interesting stuff, but I want to talk about this middle passage (vv. 24-26). Jesus asks the people what they came out to see, a reed swayed by the wind, or a man dressed in fine clothes. This is actually a rhetorical question. He knows that the answer is “no”. He is trying to get them to think about why they actually came out.

By looking at the comparisons Jesus makes, we can get an idea of what he is talking about. First, the two images he gives of a reed and a man in fine clothes are most likely parallel to each other, meaning that they are talking about the same topic. The question then is, what do a reed swaying in the wind and a man in fine clothes have in common? But, whatever the answer to that question is, also has to contrast what he says later, that they came out to see a prophet.

The idea of a reed blowing, contrasts its rigidity. It is soft, flexible and flows with the wind. The idea of a man in fine clothes contrasts well with John the Baptist’s clothes, which consisted of camel’s hair and a leather belt. The idea that Jesus is conveying here is the contrast between what they were coming to see. He is contrasting the softness of a reed, or the luxury of a man in fine clothes with the roughness of John the Baptist. They weren’t there, to see something fancy, they were there to hear a prophet. The people obviously weren’t going out to the desert to see John’s clothes or to be entertained. They were there to hear the word of the Lord.

For the people who heard Jesus speak these words, they probably thought about why they came out there. They would agree that they weren’t looking to see something that would entertain them. They were there to hear what God wanted to say to them. Even though the message (check out Luke 3) was pretty harsh, it was truth. It was this message that they were seeking, not the person.

For us today, we don’t have to go out to the desert to hear God. We have His word, the Bible, readily available. We need to ask ourselves a similar question, “what am I coming to the Bible to see?”. Are we just reading the Bible to hear some cool stories? Do we have some preconceived doctrine that we are trying to find support of in the Bible? Or, are we actually coming to the Bible because we believe it is God’s word to us? Are we willing to hear what God would say to us, even if it is uncomfortable, or might make us have to change? Are we even willing to ask God to speak to us through His word, or is it just something we do because we feel we have to?

Luke 7:18-32
18 John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19 he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
20 When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’”
21 At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22 So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 23 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

24 After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 25 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. 26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

27 This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’
28 I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
29 (All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. 30 But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.)
31 Jesus went on to say, “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:
“‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not cry.’
33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ 35 But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”

Reflection
As you read the Bible, I would encourage you to pray before you start. Ask God to speak what He wants to speak to you as you read. Come with expectancy. God wants to speak to you. When He does, take that message to heart. These are the words of God. If we let them, they will transform our lives.

James 3: Teachers, the Tongue and True Wisdom March 23, 2013

Posted by TJ Friend in Specific Passages.
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Introduction

This post is a brief overview of my thoughts on James 3. In order to understand what I am talking about it is necessary to actually read that chapter. For this reason I am placing the English Standard Version (ESV) below. If you prefer another translation, read that one, and use it to follow along with as you read this post.

James 3
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

Wisdom from Above
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Before I get into my thoughts on this text, I want to show you a few observations I made which helped me come to my conclusions. Hopefully, this will help you to be more aware of things to look for when reading a text of Scripture.

As you may have noticed, I left in the subtitle of verses 13-18 of “Wisdom from Above”. This obviously is an addition made by the translators of the ESV. I am guessing that if you are reading a different translation (NIV, KJV, Message, etc.) you will encounter a similar heading. The book of James was a letter written by James to the Church at that time and, just like letters today, he did not put in any chapter or sub-chapter headings. In fact the original manuscripts did not contain verse or chapter numbers either. So, the question I had was if that heading was actually necessary.
The structure of the book of James is difficult. It seems that he jumps around from topic to topic without connecting his ideas together in a logical fashion. For this reason people study this book thematically, tracing out the themes of rich and poor, wisdom, the tongue, suffering, faith and works, favoritism, prayer, trials and righteousness. As I have been studying this passage I am becoming more convinced that the ideas in this chapter are connected.

Parallels

I want to point out some of these thematic and linguistic connections so that you can see how I came to this conclusion. Some of these are obvious in the Greek, but even reading it in English you can see some of the similarities.
First off, it is helpful to recognize that this chapter breaks down into three sections. The first section is just the first two verses (vv. 1-2). These talk about why not many people should be teachers. The second section (vv. 3-11) talks about the power of the tongue and the third section (vv. 12 -18) is about wisdom.

If we just look at the similarities between the first two sections it is clear that James is continuing his thought. In the first verse James says that not many people should become teachers and then he gives his reason for this in verse 2. In verse 2 he talks about stumbling, but especially stumbling in speech. This second section is all about the tongue and different illustrations of its power. If you compare just verses 2 and 3 you can see the parallel between being able to bridle one’s whole body and using a bit for a horse to guide its whole body. The words bit (v. 3) and bridle (v. 2) are actually from the same root in Greek. This idea of guiding the entire body is then exemplified again with a rudder steering an entire ship. I think from this evidence it is clear that the first two sections are one connected idea, namely that the tongue is powerful and if used for evil can send a person’s life off course.
Are there connections between this second section (vv. 3-11) and the final section (12-18)? I can see three points of connection. First, verse 5 says that though the tongue is small it boasts of great things. Then in verses 14-16 he talks about natural wisdom which “boasts”. He rebukes them for their envy and selfish ambition which again show their pride.

Second, in verse 12 he states that salt water cannot come from a fresh spring. The word translated as “salt” is the same word used translated as “bitter” in describing their jealousy (v. 14). It is as if he is saying that the jealousy in their hearts is polluting the water of their soul and making it bitter.
Finally, in verse 15 he describes one type of wisdom as “demonic”. This is parallel to when he is describing the power of the tongue. He says that it is “set on fire by hell” (v. 6) and is a “restless evil” (v. 8). These are very similar ideas. The tongue is a tool of the enemy to destroy people’s lives and “natural” wisdom is a tool of the enemy to bring “disorder and every evil practice”. Both of these tools together can ruin a person. And, if this person is teaching others, they are in danger of being ruined as well.
James 3 Overview

I want to try and give a brief explanation of how the three sections of this passage fit together and come to a conclusion on what James’ main point in this chapter actually is. As I mentioned earlier James 3 divides into 3 sections: teachers (vv. 1-2), the tongue (vv. 3-11) and true wisdom (vv. 12-18). Rather than three isolated ideas, these three topics are interwoven by James into one main point which he states at the beginning of the chapter. Evidently a lot of people at that time wanted to be teachers. James was warning them that they need to check their motives. Teachers at that time (and still today) had a high status. Wisdom was an esteemed virtue and people looked up to them.

James basically sets forth a two-part argument on why they shouldn’t be teachers. First, they shouldn’t be teachers because their words show that their hearts are evil. They are both speaking praises to God and cursing people around them. Jesus had a similar rebuke to give to the Pharisees in Matthew 12:33-34.
33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (NIV)

He tells them that because their words are evil, their hearts are also evil. James is telling them that their hearts are evil and their words show that they are actually controlled by Satan (v. 6). Not only this, but they are actually poisoning those they teach (v. 8). I think James alludes to the root cause of this when he says that the tongue makes great boasts (v. 5).
The second part of James’ argument is that they shouldn’t be teachers because their motives show that they are not wise. If wisdom is a pre-requisite to teaching, James is telling them that they are seeking after the wrong kind of wisdom. Their actions reveal that they are boastful and arrogant and that they are full of bitter jealousy and selfish ambition (vv. 14, 16). Rhetorically, James asks them “who among you is wise and understanding?” (v. 12) I imagine if they stopped at that point and answered his question honestly, a lot of them would have claimed to be wise. But, James goes on to say that true wisdom is not found in what you know, it is in how you act and live your life. They were disqualified from teaching not because they didn’t know the material, but because at their heart they were wicked. Because they were living out of this false wisdom, they were creating a breeding ground for “disorder and every evil thing” (v. 18). They didn’t want to be teachers so that they could bring people closer to God. They wanted to prove how wise they were and how much better they were than others.

Conclusion

If I were to summarize James 3, I would say that James is warning people against becoming teachers if either their words or their pride reveals their evil heart.
This message applies to everyone. We need to guard our tongues. When we don’t we are literally allowing Satan to guide the course of our lives. Along with our tongues we need to check our motives. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says that we should do everything for God’s glory. We can get ourselves off track when we start to do things for our own glory.

Sharing What You Know August 18, 2010

Posted by TJ Friend in Application, General Principles.
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Hello. If you have made it this far, you should have a lot of the tools necessary to understand what the Bible is saying and study it for yourself. The mesage of the Bible is not just for you, though. It is something that needs to be shared with others. If you just keep it to yourself, you are missing the point.

Before Jesus ascended to heaven he left his disciples with some parting words. At the end of Matthew 28 Jesus tells his disciples to “Go and make disciples of all nations…” We are called to be disciple makers. Whatever knowledge or wisdom God gives us is not just for us. We need to share what we are learning with those around us, especially those who are new or young believers. Whenever God reveals something to you, do your best to apply it to your life, but don’t just leave it at that. Share what you have learned with someone else.

Your Uniqueness

You are unique. Not only do you have a unique blend of gifts and talents, but you also have a unique way of understanding the Bible. Even if you don’t have all the skills or tools of a Biblical scholar, you still have a lot to bring to the study of the Bible. In fact sometimes an overly scholarly look at the text can be harmful. It is possible to overanalyze the text and end up missing the point. Sometimes a simple observation or question can bring a text alive. Although it is important to study and try to get at the intended meaning, don’t discount yourself if you don’t have all the tools necessary. God can speak not only to you, but through you!

There is no one person who fully understands the Bible. We all have our own lens with which we view the Bible. We actually need each other so that we can see the different angles. What you gain from your reading of the text may be something that someone else would never see, simply because of how they read the text.

Understanding the Text

There are different ways to learn things. You can hear it, see it or interact with it. Each of these methods will help you to remember what you learn and understand it. The best way to learn something though is to teach someone else. This principle is just as applicable to the Bible. If you share what you are learning it is solidified inside of you and you really learn it. So, not only does it help out the person you are sharing with, but it helps you out as well.

Summary

You are awesome.

You can read and understand the text.

Sharing what you know can help others out.

Sharing what you know helps you learn it yourself better.

Reflection

What is the last thing you learned while reading the Bible? Find someone to share that with.

Preparation September 2, 2009

Posted by TJ Friend in General Principles.
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Studying the Bible, like any task or exercise, requires a certain amount of preparation. There are basically three things that you can do to prepare for studying the Bible. If you do these things it will put you in right attitude and enable you to focus in on what God has for you without being distracted.

Prepare your Time

First it is important to intentionally set aside time to be in God’s word. I find the best time for me is early in the morning. It is a good way to start the day and is the easiest to keep consistent, although the time is not as important as the consistency. Find a time and a place where you can be alone and free from distractions. It is important to find a place that is quiet, so that you can focus in on listening to God. If there is a lot of noise or other distractions it will be difficult to fully engage. Set aside a specific block of time each day and stick with it. Again, the amount of time is not as important as developing consistency. But, realize that studying the Bible takes time, and if you do not give yourself enough time you will miss out on the benefits. It is similar to mining for gold or other jewels in the earth. You can’t just walk around on the surface and try to find the treasure, you need to dig in to the ground and put time and effort into searching, only then will you find the treasure.

Prepare your Heart

The next thing you can do in preparation is to begin with prayer. Studying the Bible can be an overly academic or intellectual pursuit, but ultimately it should be about hearing God speak through His word. Taking time to acknowledge Him and asking Him to speak will help you be an attentive reader, one who is actively listening and expecting God to speak. By starting with prayer and acknowledging God you can keep a humble attitude, realizing that it is God who is revealing Himself to you.

Prepare your Tools

The final step in preparation is physically assembling your tools. Get some paper, something to write with, grab a few different translations of the Bible and any other resources you might feel are necessary, such as a concordance or dictionary. Coming with all things already there, will eliminate the need to get up and get something you need while you are in the middle of studying. I will talk about the importance of some of these resources later, and if you don’t have some of them don’t worry. The minimum amount of resources you need are a pencil/pen, a paper and a Bible. If this is all you have you can still learn a lot and gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of the text. Later on I will recommend some more resources, but I am only going to recommend the most basic resources that will aid in your study. There are literally hundreds of resources out there to those desiring to study the word. Although these are helpful and may add to your study, I want to emphasize the importance of the text itself, and I believe most of your time should be spent looking at the actual words of the Bible.

Can I Study the Bible? August 19, 2009

Posted by TJ Friend in General Principles.
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Yes. If you are reading this, you already have the most important skill in studying and understanding the Bible, the ability to read. The Bible after all is a book. I know that seems blatantly obvious, but the implications may not be. People read things everyday and for the most part understand what they read, but for some reason the Bible seems like a mystical book that defies interpretation. You may think that you are not smart enough or spiritual enough to understand the Bible, but this is not true. The Bible was written for you. It wasn’t written just for pastors or teachers or people who have gone through years of college or seminary. It was written for the average person. God wants to speak directly to you through His word. The system we have now goes like this: The pastor or teacher spends time and studies the word then imparts the revelation he (or she) receives to others. There is nothing wrong with this picture, but it is incomplete. It is like a mother bird hunting and finding some worms for her chicks. She finds the food and chews it up, regurgitating into the mouths of her hungry chicks. Eventually, the chicks need to learn how to find and chew their own food. In the same way, we can’t rely on our pastor as our only source for food. We need to take time on our own to study for ourselves.
So, what exactly does it take to study the Bible? The concepts needed are fairly simple to comprehend, but it is definitely not natural or easy. There are four basic traits that are needed to study the Bible. Read through these and see if you have what it takes to be a student of the word.

Basic Reading Skills: You need to be able to ask questions, look for main ideas, follow an argument, and understand different genres. This is a lot of what I will be going over later, so don’t discount yourself if some of this sounds foreign.

Self-Confidence: You need to believe that you actually can understand the Bible. Like I said before, the Bible was not just written for scholars and God desires to feed you directly through His word. And just like anything, the more practice you get the more confident you will become.

Humility: The Bible is God’s word to you. You need to come with an open ear to hear what the text is saying. If you come to the Bible assuming you already know what it says or looking for proof texts for your own ideas you will not be able to hear what God wants to say to you.

Perseverance: Studying the Bible takes time and consistency. You can’t expect to reap the rewards without putting in the effort. The Bible is filled with jewels and treasures that you can only find if you dig for them. I hesitate to use the word perseverance, because it can have some negative connotations. Just to clarify, reading and studying the word is not some sort of trial that you need to endure in order for God to speak to you. The journey toward revelation is just as exciting as the outcome. God has placed inside of us a desire to study and observe and figure things out. He would be robbing us if He just placed things out in the open. It is like an Easter Egg Hunt: How fun would it be if all the eggs were out in the open? What makes it fun and exciting is the search…the “treasure hunt”. That is what studying the Bible is for us, a treasure hunt.

Reflection:
Pick a chapter out of the Bible. Read it over and over until you understand what it is saying and ask God to speak to you. If you come to Him with an open heart and don’t give up too soon, God will speak to you.

Just because someone has been a Christian for many years doesn’t make them mature, in the same way a new believer can grow and mature rapidly. What determines your growth is understanding truth and drawing closer to God. The main way you grow and mature is by spending time daily in the Word. If you were to give yourself an “age”, not based on how long you have been a Christian, but on how mature you are, how old would you be?