It occurred to me during a recent conversation with a friend, that people don't study their bibles much these days. We have bible studies, go to church services and listen intently to sermons and take notes, but we don't seem to open our bibles during the other six days of the week. I think people are scared at what they will find in it. Will they find that they are living their lives in a manner unbecoming to God? Will they realize that the only relationship that is truly important in their lives is lacking due to their own neglect? I also think people don't know how to study the bible. They think it's a read/answer questions type of book and they don't have the answers! There is a difference between reading the bible and studying the bible. I have read the bible through at least 3 times, some books as many as 7 times, but I don't get much out of it until I ponder the words and stories illuminated in the bible. I search other verses that back up what I'm reading and I have a bible dictionary to understand obscure words and a concordance in order to find related verses easily. I also have a commentary on the entire bible so if I really get stuck I can see what another person's thoughts are and go from there. I learn the vocabulary in the bible and am still learning to understand the culture behind the stories to better understand what life was like during the time Jesus walked the earth.
It's impossible to know God apart from knowing his word. And knowing the bible is relevant to our lives today. It's not just a history book, but a "how to" or "self-help" resource. The bible does relate to our day to day lives. God's advice is as good today as it was when it was first delivered. Also, some people think there must be a technique to studying the bible. Do #1 assignment, then #2, etc. While I agree that some people do not have adequate study skills, anyone reading this can read, so therefore, they can study. Somewhere on this blog is a list of study techniques for bible study, but ultimately, we have to choose our own manner and take a small passage at a time. Other's think that they are not pastors so they don't really have to know the word, they can get what they need from church. That's ignorant! What if my children never learned to cook or do laundry because they get those things from mom? Well, mom won't always be around and even when they move out I won't be standing next to them when a question about cooking or laundry arises. They will have to make their own conclusions and act for themselves. They can teach other people to cook and do laundry, so their friends won't go hungry or be naked, and be lost. It is our responsibility to pass on what we know to future generations! Another excuse is that we don't have time. Well, we have time for television or exercising or just being lazy so yes, we have the time. It’s essential that we make the time to study for bible. Imagine that your grandparent left you an old diary when they died. It was a history of your family’s experiences and full of advice. Would you read it? Of course you would! Just imagine the bible is God’s dairy, and who among us wouldn’t read a diary if it found its way into our hands? If you have doubts the bible is true, adequate or complete, just READ IT and you will come to the same conclusion the majority of humanity has, it’s true and adequate and complete. It is reliable and authoritative! The more we read it the more it turns out to be. Is it interesting? Of course it is, but I will admit I don’t like reading Numbers. It’s boring to me and I have never gotten much out of it, however, I still read it when its time comes up because I know one day God will make my heart open to receiving its message. I don’t give up, I keep reading and studying. I have made my own discoveries on topics I can relate to and I have uncovered spiritual truths for myself, not by just relying on my pastor or friends. It does not take special training to study the bible, just an open heart and dedication. I think studying the bible is essential to my own growth and spiritual maturity. I hope you find the time today and every day after to open your bible and start reading God’s story. May God bless your efforts.