Hebrews 4:12 The Bible

The reason I started this blog just over two years ago, was to share what I learned through studying the Bible, and to encourage you to study with me. I know that there are some of you (and I have done it too) who start a reading plan in January with the intent to read through the Bible in one year. Genesis and Exodus are interesting, filled with stories of drama and suspense, but once you get to Leviticus, does your mind start to wander? Do you start to drift off? When you read through Numbers are you actually planning your summer vacation? How many of you have made it to Revelation? I know that before I changed my strategy two years ago, I had read Genesis more often than any other book. But when I started studying–not just reading–one or two verses at a time, without neglecting the larger context of course, I found myself more engaged and more interested.

Hebrews 4:12 tells us that God’s word is “living and active”. The New Living Translation says “alive and powerful”. Do you believe that? Or do you think that it is just a historical religious book that people keep printing and re-translating because there are still people who want to buy it? And why do they want to buy it? Why do you want to read it enough to start a reading plan every year? I believe that the same thing that draws many of us to The Bible, repels many as well. It is a representation of the power of God. It is God extending Himself to us through His written word.

The word of God is sharper than any double-edged sword, able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) God has provided it for us, to teach us, to correct us and to prepare us for every good work. (II Timothy 3:16-17) It is there for us to be able to know God’s heart, and to determine if ours are right with His. The word of God is available to us for our benefit, so that we can know God, so that through faith in Him and obedience to Him we can be recipients of His grace, love, peace and mercy. What a gift!

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Some of you prefer watching the movie to reading the book. Here is your chance! Though I recommend it as a supplement rather than a substitution, The Bible is coming to The History Channel as a mini-series beginning on Sunday, March 3, 2013 and continuing each Sunday evening until Easter Sunday. You can be sure that this will be a great production because it is being produced by Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Apprentice, The Voice…) and Roma Downey (Touched By An Angel). Accuracy has been insured by Bible scholars, including Dr. Craig Evans of Acadia Divinity College, Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada. Find out more about The Bible Series at the official website, their Facebook page or on Twitter.

Matthew 6:33 Hearing God’s Voice

At this time of year, many people start thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. What can I do differently in the coming year to make my life better? Many plan to start diet or exercise programs, and some plan to start Bible reading programs that will take them through the Bible in one year. A lot of these Bible reading programs alternate between Old and New Testament. Some read from four different sections each day. Some read straight through from cover to cover, and others go in chronological order. In order to read the Bible completely in one year, you need to read about three or four chapters a day. I have done this a couple of times before, but I don’t intend to do it again. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a good thing to read your Bible–this whole blog is built on it. I don’t think it’s wrong to read the Bible straight through either; in fact I think it’s a good idea to do so, either how it is written or in chronological order. But I don’t think that you should set yourself up for a schedule that you can’t keep, and that you will feel guilty about if you give it up. I think it is more important to forget the schedule, and read at a pace where you can stop and think, and pray, about what you are reading.

Many of you are familiar with Matthew 6:33 and the context around it. We are told not to worry about material things, what we will eat, what we will drink, what we will wear, because our Heavenly Father knows that we need them, but to first, above all, pursue His kingdom and righteousness, and the material things we need will be provided. The context tells us why we should put God first, and I think most of us would agree even if only for practical reasons. The problem is that most of us who have read, even memorized, this verse and agree with it, have trouble putting it into practice. So I want to talk about how we put God first. How do we get to know Him? How do we hear and know His voice? Surely His provision for us involves our cooperation. How do we follow His leading if we don’t know where He is directing us?

Rather than following a reading plan that will take you through the Bible in one year, why not make a commitment of how much time you will spend each day reading the Bible and in prayer. Why not try to get to know God, to understand Him. Many people pray for God to speak to them, to guide them on the next step of their journey. Do they expect to hear a booming voice from heaven with the answer telling them what they should do? Being a follower of Jesus Christ is not about religion, and following a list of rules, especially self-prescribed rules, it is about having a relationship, being adopted into a new family. How can you get to know that family if you don’t spend time with them? Reading the Bible, just for the sake of getting through it, and not really paying attention to it or considering how it could change your life, would be like having a conversation with someone while you’re daydreaming about something else. If you want to improve the relationship, you have to listen. For those of you who are waiting for God to speak to you, He already has—volumes.