Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A New Tool

Do you find Bible study hard?  I do.  I just get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of Scripture and study aids. Simply picking a single book to study out of the 66 is hard for me, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of commentaries, dictionaries, concordances, and websites that are out there.  I'm always afraid that one of the study aids will lead me astray.  False teaching exists, and I'm a very gullible woman; I'm always interested in new Bible study tools that don't rely on extra-Biblical material.

Recently, I read a book by Andrew Murray that gave me just that.  Lord, Teach Us to Pray is obviously a book about prayer, not Bible study, but the way he wrote one of the chapters was fascinating to me.  He took the simple phrase "Lord, teach us to pray" from Luke 11, and he emphasized and expounded upon each major word in turn.  For example: "Lord, teach us to pray.  None can teach like Jesus, none but Jesus; therefore we call on Him...A pupil needs a teacher who knows his work, who has the gift of teaching, who in patience and love will descend to the pupil's needs.  Blessed be God!  Jesus is all this and much more."  

He continued in this way for the words "teach," "us", and "pray."   As I read, I realized what a great Bible study tool that could be.  Each and every word in the Bible is important, chosen for a reason.  I could spend hours studying and meditating on one verse using this method.  

So I decided to use this idea on one of the verses my children have memorized this summer. (As a bonus, Helene will talk about this verse next week!)  "He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8).  I could write for pages and pages on this verse alone, but I'll spare you that.  Instead, I'll just share what I can learn from emphasizing and meditating on just a few of these words.

Require - These are not suggestions.  The verse doesn't say, "God thinks it would be really neat if you would do justice."  Pleasing God goes beyond just believing in Him.  He has requirements, and He's told you what they are. 

Do - Action word!  Justice is not just something we believe in, but something we practice.  Caring for widows and orphans, returning a  lost wallet or cash, treating people of all backgrounds with the same love, all of these are ways to do justice rather than just talk about it.

Kindness - When I chose a Bible story about kindness for my children, I chose the tale of David and Mephibosheth.  Jonathan's son was lame and had nothing to offer the king of Israel. In fact, based on political culture at the time, he could have expected to be killed as a future challenger to the throne! David didn't care that Mephibosheth was low on the social scale in the kingdom, and he certainly didn't want to kill his best friend's son. David gave him a place at his table because he wanted to be kind (2 Samuel 9:1-13).  If I want to "love kindness," I have to do the same.  Be kind to the unlovable, the ones considered by the world to be enemies or trash. 

Humbly - Humility in my walk with God presupposes that I acknowledge his sovereignty.  He makes the rules; I follow them.  When I make a mistake (as we all do), I confess my sin instead of blaming it on someone else.  

With - You can't ignore these little words.  Walking with God implies a close relationship.  I don't worship from afar; I walk by His side.  His presence is ever near me; I can reach out and touch His hand.

When I read a verse like this, savoring each word, the richness of Scripture makes such an impact.  Verses that seem pale and flat after years of reading them too fast suddenly come alive. And this tool allows the Bible to speak for itself.  I'm not relying on what someone else says about the verse; I'm discovering it for myself.  I'm  not suggesting that this be the only tool I should use in studying the Bible (I wouldn't want to take a verse out of context), but I am so excited to have another easy way to make the Word come alive!

Today I'd like to hear from you.  What are some ways that you study the Bible?  How does Scripture come alive for you?  
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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