“Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine (I Tim. 4:13).” To read means literally “to know again.” Thus, Paul was not encouraging Timothy to read something that he was unaware of. He was not encouraging Timothy to read something that was entirely new to him. He encouraged him to read so that he might know again. We should be reading the scriptures to be constantly bringing them to our remembrance. Alas, this simply isn’t happening.
In a recent survey conducted by the Lifeway Research, when asked how often churchgoers personally (not as part of a church worship service) read the Bible, a similar number respond "Every Day" (19 percent) as respond "Rarely/Never" (18 percent). A quarter indicate they read the Bible a few times a week. 14 percent say they read the Bible "Once a Week" and another 22 percent say "Once a Month" or "A Few Times a Month." These are rather alarming numbers. There are just as many “Christians” reading their bibles daily as there are “Christians” who rarely/never read their bibles. Perhaps what alarms me more about that number is the fact that both were as high as 18 percent. That would mean in a congregation of our size here at Grinnell the numbers would break down as such. (not including the children)… only 4 of us read our bibles daily. 4 of us rarely if ever read our bibles. 3 of us read our bibles a few times a week. While 5 of us are reading our bibles once a month and another 5 of us are reading our bibles a couple times of month. Which one does this one make you?
Today, I want to challenge you to be better. Are you one that never reads the bible, then be one that reads it once a month. Are you one that reads once a month, then be one that reads a few times a month. Are you one that reads a few times a week, then be one that reads daily. I am not asking you to read 3 hours each time you sit down to read. All I am really asking you to do is watch 30 minutes less of TV and fill it with God’s word. Make yourself acquainted with God’s word. Or perhaps I should say, reacquaint yourself with God’s word. I promise that you will not suffer as a result of reading just a little bit more than what you are already reading. In fact, you will actually be better off for spending more time in God’s word.
Now, I realize that just reading God’s word is not enough to please God. There are many who are familiar with the scriptures but are not living lives that are pleasing to God. Based upon several books that I have read, there are several “biblical scholars” that have read the bible but based upon the conclusions that they have come to, I do not believe that they are living a life that is pleasing to God. (Be it by false doctrine, false worship, or some other issue). We also need to know how to properly apply what it is that we have learned through our studies. This requires wisdom. While I know that James teaches us to pray for wisdom (James 1:5), it doesn’t hurt to learn from others on how to study the bible. Several years ago I gave one such method. S.O.A.P. This was meant to cleanse your soul with scripture, observation, application and prayer.
The scripture did not have to be a lengthy chapter, or entire book, it was just to be a passage that caught your eye. Perhaps it was something that you didn’t fully understand. Perhaps it was something that touched your heart because you don’t recall hearing it before. Or perhaps it revealed something that you need to work on in your own life.
After you picked your scripture, you were to write down some observations you learned form studying the text. These observations can come from a brief word study to help you understand the meaning of the text, to a cross reference to another similar passage, or something that came from a reliable commentary. Whatever that observation is write it down so that you can always go back to it when you need to.
Next, you need to make some personal applications. How is what you just learned supposed to affect your life. Is there a sin you need to get repent of? Is there a change needed in how you worship God? Did it teach you something that you can improve in to make you stronger in the face of temptation. Whatever it is, write it down for future reference.
Finally, I encouraged you to pray. Pray about what you just learned. Asked God to help you apply these lessons to your life.
Now, S.O.A.P. is obviously not the only way once can study the scriptures. There are many other ways to lean how to study the bible. The aim here is to find what works for you; to find what keeps you interested in reading and studying the bible.
Grinnell church of Christ
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Volume 4 Issue 40 September 15, 2013