Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Simple Breakfast Recipe:: Unlock the Bible {4}

There needs neither art nor science for going to God, but only a heart resolutely determined to apply itself to nothing but Him, or for His sake, and to love Him only.
-Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

Christian bookstores are full of books on how to live the Christian life. Devotionals, self-help manuals, commentaries, even special editions of the Bible offer to help us navigate applying the Bible to our lives.

I'll be honest, I hope that one day one of those books might have my name on the spine.

However: You are ultimately the one responsible for your understanding of the Bible. Not Larry Crabb or Bill Hybels or Erwin McManus or even Ann Voskamp. You.

Fortunately, just like Larry and Bill and Erwin and Ann, you have direct access to the one who spoke the words of the Bible, and he wants to reveal himself to you directly.

He puts his truth where we can reach it, right in the pages of his message. In the early days of the church, the Jews of Berea understood the importance of first-hand knowledge. When Paul came to them teaching that the God of the Jews had opened up his family to include the Gentiles, they "examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" (Acts 17:11, NLT). As a result of their study, many of the Jews converted to Christianity.

Why do we find it so challenging to open Scripture and tease out its truth for ourselves?

While study Bibles, commentaries, how-to books, and even devotionals have much value to the believer pursuing a deeper understanding of God, the fact remains that there is little of art or science needed to simply read Scripture for oneself. It should be as simple as reading.

Today I promised a simple, breakfast-style recipe for reading for yourself. Forgive me if you find it too simple; before going further I want to encourage you that if you can read, and you desire to pursue knowing God more, you already possess the skill to get into the Bible. The book is a marvel, but "Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!" (Matthew 11:15).

Breakfast Bible Time

  • Bible
  • Notebook
  • Pen

  • Preheat the oven by inviting God to speak to you.
  • Choose a passage in whatever way you wish. It can be a single verse, a paragraph, an entire chapter. At the top of your notebook page, write the date and the passage you are reading.
  • As you read, look for a word, a phrase or a verse that stands out to you. Write it down. Ask God to reveal to you his message. Write down whatever thoughts you have.
  • Bake by meditating on the passage for 5-10 minutes, or longer if desired.
  • Reading time is done when that stand-out verse is golden brown, sending a fresh aroma through your soul.

Usually a good confirmation of God speaking to you comes when you start getting the same message from every direction: Sunday message, Bible reading time, books you are reading, friends, Twitter, and so on (and no, I did not learn about God speaking through Twitter during college in the early '90's).

And that's the complete recipe!

Here's an example of my very simple recipe applied to Psalm 19 (by the way, I love Bible Gateway! It's one of the tools I will be discussing later on).

On my first read through, two verses stand out:
13 Keep me from deliberate sins
14 May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord.

I know that God gives forgiveness for all the mistakes I make. But the actions that keep me up at night are the ones I knew were wrong at the time I was doing them. I always want to know, is there grace for those actions? Because those probably outnumber the accidental sins by, oh, I don't know, maybe 14 (or 140) to 1.

Here I see that even David, the man after God's own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), had to ask God for strength to keep himself from willful sin. What a great relief. If he could pray it, then so may I.

And my prayer always, is that God would be pleased by the things I say and the things about which I privately think.

Dear Lord, give me strength today, to resist temptation to commit willful sins, and to act and think in ways that would make you happy. Amen.

Time to close the books, put the pen away (where baby can't get it and write, and begin the rest of my day.

Read Psalm 19 with me? What verse stands out to you most on your first reading?

1 comment:

  1. WOW... that was excellent! It's everything I already know and try to practice but to hear it again and said so strongly and directly... is something I always need to hear. Thank you.


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