The Word of God, the Bible, is the most reliable means of knowing God and His will for the lives of His people (see II Tim. 3:16-17). It is compared to both milk for babies and meat for adults in passages like I Peter 2:2; I Corinthian 3:2.
In other words, you need a healthy intake of the Bible in order to be a growing Christian. Here are five ways to receive God's Word into your life, in a transformative way:
1. Personal Devotionals. This is a reference to regular quality time with the Word of God. Some people like a little music. I like it quiet at home. But I can tolerate music in a coffee shop. Do what works for you. Here are some tips that I recommend:
- Commit to having no less than four sessions a week, until you can grow to daily sessions.
- Commit to ten minutes a session, until you grow to about twenty minutes of more.
- Start with praying for understanding of what you are about to receive. Read a portion of the Word of God. About ten to twenty verses of a Gospel or Proverbs would be a nice start. Reflect on how what you have read relates to your life. Your reading may suggest what you should be doing or should not be doing.
I like to make journal entries that include a brief summary, ideas to live by, and questions that I have about the text. And then ask the Lord to help you understand, remember, and live by His will for your life.
- With a journal, I recommend that you go back and review your entries, when you have completed a book of the Bible. And it may be helpful to developed a book of very special devotionals that you review semi-annually or in special seasons of your life. Do what works for you.
2. Personal Bible study. Click here to see an entire article on this subject. I recommend that you use the three study questions and four study tools to study a portion of scripture.
The three study questions are "What does the passage say?," "What does it mean?," and "What does it mean to me?" The four study tools are the Charles Ryrie New International Version Study Bible, the Living Bible, a sound commentary, and a concordance.
As you study the Word of God for yourself, prepare to learn stuff that you never knew. And prepare to see that some of the stuff that you thought was based on the Bible may not be as Bible based as you supposed.
3. Church based Bible study. Here are three helpful reasons to be in your church's Bible study and Sunday School:
- You need some confirmation to see if what you think you understand about the Word of God is the understanding of those you are in covenant with as a church family.
- You need to share with and help others who may not have received what you received from a text.
- You may discover that your church is not where you need to be. At the end of the day, if up under the singing and shouting, there are significant doctrinal differences between you and your church, you may want to revisit are you in the right church. You don't want to be in a situation of having zeal without knowledge (see Rom. 10:2).
4. Active listening to Bible based preaching. It is said that we retain so little of what is heard. But we can significantly increase the amount of what we retain, if we take notes.
A quality sermon is the product of hours of prayerful study and preparation. Many preachers preach from twenty to forty-five minutes. It is highly unlikely that you remember what you read yesterday, not to mention what your Pastor said last month. So take some notes.
Write down the text (i.e., the main passage of scripture that is being preached about) and title. Then simply make bullet statements about things that really seem to relate to your life for some reason or another.
Don't worry about sentences, spelling, or grammar. These notes are simply for your memory jogging. I recommend that you include a review of your notes in your personal devotionals (see above).
For example, I listen to the Bible on CD, in my car each year. My set is about 60 CDs, so by listening to two a week, starting in January, I am finished around June. I must warn you, the Bible is not always the most interesting listening, while driving. This is especially the case with the book of Leviticus (smile).
There are other books on CD. I look forward to recommending some of them in the future. There are Christian radio stations and even internet stations. And of course, there are the ever growing MP3 downloads.
In summary, the Word of God is so important that you need to work on receiving it into your spirit on a regular basis and in a number of ways. Personal devotionals, personal Bible study, church based Bible study, active listening to Bible based preaching, and audio products are a few helpful suggestions.
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