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Bible Study: Absorbing Scripture

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+ The Bible: Absorbing the Scriptures +
(Maximizing the Return)

" All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do. " + 2 TIMOTHY 3:16&17 +

Many of us read our bibles, we memorize certain verses and passages, and we make these things a part of our daily walks of faith. We are obedient to the call to search the scriptures daily as we forge onward through the peaks and valleys of the lives we lead. Yet some of us have fallen into a casual attitude towards bible study; letting it be more of a process, a system; and have allowed it to become more of a tradition than an actual heartfelt longing for the truth contained in the Word. Studying daily is great, memorizing scripture is admirable, and consistency in searching the scriptures is key to spiritual growth; however, all this is of little benefit if we don't fully grasp the deeper principles or make a conscious choice to apply the concepts in our lives.
Some of us even study with evil motives; seeking to know the Word that we may use it as a tool for leverage, so we can promote our own agenda. Some of us study and memorize the Word in order to give the appearance of righteousness and obedience. Some learn the Word in order to feel superior to others, as we seek to lift ourselves into a position of leadership and authority. We do ourselves, others, and even God an injustice when we have such a shallow approach towards this critical element in our faith.
In order for us to achieve the maximum benefit of scripture, its paramount that we maintain the proper attitude, approach, perspective and diligence when we read our bibles. If our purpose or intention is evil, then we will not receive the fullness of wisdom and knowledge of God. We will be fighting against the grain for minimal return, and will develop deceptive and contrary views related to those things we read; at best. It is my hope and prayer that this lesson will lead us into a much more rewarding and fruitful study habit.
Let us focus on some key principles regarding study: proper preparation and posture; not simply reading, but seeking through prayer and meditation for the deeper truths and power; being consistent; the benefits of it/ability to break chains of spiritual enslavement; and properly wielding the Sword of Truth.

+ Posture & Preparation +

" If you need wisdom-if you want to know what God wants you to do-ask Him and He will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. But when you ask Him, be sure that you really expect Him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind." + JAMES 1: 5&6 +


Many times we simply sit down in the morning and open up our bibles, read our daily allotted portion of scripture, and go on about our day. While this is not "wrong," per se; it does limit the benefit we can get from our study time. There are however, some things we can do before we even open the bible that will greatly improve the return on the time invested in study. If we get into the habit of doing these things each and every time, we will find a much deeper understanding and greater power in those things we read.
First, let us seek God in prayer; bringing to Him all the things in our lives that may be contrary to His Word and will. If we surrender any sin, or sinful thoughts/intentions before we begin, then those things will no longer be able to obstruct the movement of the Spirit as He ministers to us through our study. We will find it easier to understand what God is trying to tell us; we will find a deeper understanding of the hidden truths and principles that are implied between the lines.
Second, let us ask God to speak to us; let us truly hunger and desire for Him to minister to us and grant a fuller comprehension of what is being given. Let us pray for ears open to His voice, eyes open to the concepts He wills us to learn, a mind ready and receptive of His wisdom and depth of understanding, and a heart free from hardness; that the seeds find good soil, take root deeply, and grow forth to fruitful abundance.
Third, let us maintain a proper attitude and spiritual posture; a humble and reverent perspective. It's important we remember that it is not our studying that causes growth, but God's revelation and ministry through it. We are told in
1 Corinthians 3:6, " My job was to plant the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it; but it was God, not we, who caused the growth." Thus we do well to remember it is not by our power or actions that we receive the benefit but God's.
Once we have nurtured the proper attitude, posture and approach; once we have sought God's movement and providence in our study efforts, then we can begin our lessons with a much more powerful effect. A half-hearted effort will result only in a half-hearted return. If we want a complete and maximized benefit we must go, “All in,” when we undertake our daily studies.


+ Don't Read; Absorb! +


" Study this book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed." +JOSHUA 1:8 +

It is very easy for us to fall into the pattern of simply reading our daily verses or passages and going on about our day; mission accomplished. However, this severely limits the depth of our understanding. We do well to grasp the idea that we can take our morning's study with us everywhere we go that day. For a long time, I would read my daily Psalm, my daily Proverb, whatever else I felt led or inclined to study, and proceed with my day. Yet at a point I finally realized that I wasn't contemplating what I had read throughout my daily life. I was very confused about the concept of meditation; thinking meditation was sitting cross-legged and repeating some mantra, as I had seen in movies. As such, I felt quite foolish even considering meditation much less employing it.
Over time I figured out this was a very limited and ignorant view of meditation, and though this method may work for some; it was simply too comical for me to seriously consider. Meditation is not so much about the act; but about the intention, the level of passion or focus, and commitment to delving deeper for a more complete comprehension. For me, meditation is thoughtful and prayerful contemplation; simply repeating the verses and considering what God was trying to say to me; considering how the verses and passages in whole revealed context and underlying truths. It was “revisiting,” what I'd read periodically throughout my day, and thinking about its meaning.
If one looks at this scripture from the beginning of Joshua, it tells us that we should, " Meditate on it day and night." This means we shouldn't simply read it and go on about our business, forgetting what we read. On the contrary we should take time throughout our day and night to “mull over,” what we learned, to reconsider the concepts and principles that were illustrated. Quite often we will find that God will not simply reveal one message or application, but several; and it's key to continue to meditate and consider the Word in order to receive all of what God is trying to tell us. In this manner we don't simply "read," scripture, but we absorb it as it comes alive to us.

+ The Benefits +

A car must have fuel in order to get anywhere, you can have everything else in order; but without fuel, you cannot even start much less move forward. The bible is like our daily gas station; we should be sure to top off first thing in the morning and as needed along the way. Just as well, what happens if there isn't enough juice in the battery? It not only won't start but you will be lucky to get any illumination from the headlights; you must have a fully charged battery to see the obstacles in the road and safely avoid them.
Taking time to meditatively and prayerfully study the bible will help us ensure our spiritual “fuel tanks,” are full; to ensure our lights shine bright enough to see clearly. We will find a much greater power and deliverance in life if we invest the time and effort to learn what God has to say, and prepare to give answer when we are presented with the daily tests that we encounter. We can benefit and grow exponentially if we strive harder, dig deeper and surrender to the washing and renewing of our minds through in depth study.


+ Scripture = Strength +

" Your words are what sustains me. They bring me great joy and are my heart's delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty." + JEREMIAH 15:16 +

There are many times in our lives that we encounter periods of trial, tribulation, testing, and even plain old suffering. We find ourselves in the dark valleys of life; overwhelmed, afraid, worn out, hurting, alone, and so much more. It is hard for us to endure much less push on through, and we may feel like we simply don't have the strength to continue. We might feel like we are an island all alone, even when we are surrounded by others; and we desperately need a word of encouragement and inspiration to forge on ahead in spite of our feelings. Having a passionate and deeper study life will equip us to combat these things; as we know the Word of truth to lean on.
We are told in Hebrews 4:12(a) " For the Word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into the innermost thoughts and desires." This living power is able to sustain us even when we think we have no more fuel in the tank; when we think we cannot possibly take even one more step. Greater is He who is in us than he that is in the world; and the same "He," in us is the same Spirit that lives in scripture.
We are also told in Romans 12:2, " Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed buy the washing and renewing of our minds." It is through the process of "absorbing," the Word of God that our minds and hearts are washed and renewed. Simply by consuming the Word, the scriptures by their very nature begin to break down the emotions and mentalities that are dragging us down; they cut through the thoughts, fears, and doubts that lead us to feel as though we cannot continue on. The only way to fight back against spiritual attack is to use a spiritual weapon!

+ Light When its Dark +

“Your Word is a lamp for my feet, and a light to my path," +PSALM 119:105+
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths." +PROVERBS 3:5+

While we may have times when the proper course is apparent, this is not always the case. There are times even, when we see multiple paths that all seem correct, or all seem incorrect. It is a very confusing and disturbing situation to find oneself in; fearing to take the wrong path, to say or do the wrong things. Sometimes we even have difficulty discerning the appropriate mentalities, perspectives and approaches before even considering a direction. We have instances where we are receiving confusing or conflicting " road signs," and have issue simply reading the signs themselves.
It is in these dark times when we must use the Word of God as a kind of spiritual roadmap, so we can ensure we are embarking on the correct course. I thank God for who He is, for truly He remains consistent and steady in His will and direction. When the world confronts us with shades of gray, our heavenly Father puts things in clear black and white. He does not waver, but offers clear and concise teaching that allows us to see the one true path.
It is stated in Isaiah 55:11, " It is the same with my Word. I send it out and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it to." We can be confident that God has ensured us His Word will be something we can trust. It always has the power to do what is necessary, it will always result in benefit, and it will have dominion over anything we encounter. So when we are confused, lost, or simply unsure which route is right; we can be certain His Word will direct us clearly.


+ Prevents the Tendency Towards Pride +

" This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way." +DEUT. 17:20+

Nothing can be more humbling than the type of conviction that the scriptures can bring in our lives. On the other hand, nothing compromises the movement of God in our lives more than a proud and superior nature. When we become proud it's very easy to forget that all we have in life is an unmerited gift from God. It is very easy to get into the habit of applauding ourselves for successes and periods of abundance. It is tragically ironic how quick we are to blame God when things go awry, yet pat ourselves on the back when things go well with us. This is especially common when we experience seasons of abundance and blessing, because we slowly become comfortable in our position in Christ, and forget how desperately we need God to be the captain of our ship.
The Word of God is such a great tool to prevent and remove pride for a couple primary reasons. First, due to its divine and spiritual nature it has the inherent ability to offer conviction via the Holy Spirit. Since God is God, we cannot commune with Him without naturally being reminded of our weakness, and frailty in general. This means where God is, pride simply cannot be; it is contrary to retain in our nature-in the face of the nature of God. Second, it perpetually reminds us of what happens when we as believers stray away from His will and Word. This is a humbling experience as we find a consistent pattern of human failing and God's intercession on our behalf.


+ Chain Breaking Ability +

" In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...So the Word became human and lived here among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father." +JOHN 1:1&14+

Jesus himself is and was the Word made flesh, and it is through He alone we are set free of the spiritual chains of enslavement that were otherwise going to cause our eternal destruction. When He shed His blood upon that cross, it dripped down from it into the lives of all men and women; removing the penalty, power and stain of sin once and for all. We do well at this point to also read the Bread of Life discourse in JOHN 6:22-59, as it gives incredible insight to this particular item. Even though Jesus was the Word made flesh, the very same Spirit and power is contained within the written Word of God. This means that scripture has the same power and dominion over the chains that beset us.

Due to the sins of Adam and Eve in the garden we were cursed with the disease of sin and that shackled us all with the chains of spiritual slavery. We had no way of being restored by our own power, and were at that point completely imprisoned to the curse of evil. However, God in His infinite wisdom and boundless grace had already begun His plan to restore us by sacrificing His Only Son in order to free us from this curse. Then when the time was right, Jesus came down, " the Word made flesh," and gave His life to restore us to grace.
Because of the perfect quality of this sacrifice, the purity of His blood; we were set free. Well that blood also runs through every letter and line in scripture; that living water is contained in the well of the bible; and as such, is beyond capable of destroying any effort on Satan’s part to enslave us.


+ Why be so Dedicated in Study? +

" Study to show yourselves approved unto God; a workman who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." + 2 TIMOTHY 2:15 +

Simply put: The Word of God is our first resource, our most powerful weapon, and sturdiest defense for all aspects of our earthly lives, the spiritual battle and fruitful witness. It is referred to as a Sword of the Spirit, when used as a weapon against the evil in our lives and the lives of others. However, it does us little good and even has the potential for great harm if we do not have it at the ready, or if we do not know how to properly wield it.
How many times has a believer said, " I wish I had my bible, I just know it says something that can help in this situation,"? While there is wisdom in always carrying a physical copy of scriptures, there are times when it simply isn't feasible to have it close at hand. This is one major reason we should be diligent, consistent and thorough in our studies. That way we already have power verses and life giving principles committed to memory; and don't need to lament the lack of a bible handy. The more we study the scriptures, the easier it is to bring those verses to mind in times of great need.
Furthermore, when we have put in the time and effort to fully understand what we learn and commit them to memory; God will grant us opportunities to apply those principles in our daily lives. For instance, perhaps one studies the concept of enduring periods of intense suffering on a given morning. It is possible that this person will encounter someone who just had a close family member pass away and desperately needs a word of encouragement. Since the first person studied so diligently and committed those verses to memory; they can then shine the light of love and peace into the second person's life by sharing the Word.
That being said, there are many misconceptions regarding God and what His Word says on multiple matters. There are some misapplications and misinterpretations that have sadly become almost commonplace. This is why it is critical we have a more complete understanding of what scripture says, what it means and how to apply it in our lives and that of others. When we dedicate the time and effort to fully absorbing the Word of God, we will be able to "Rightly divide the Word of truth," rather than contribute to misinformation.
In the end it is up to us to invest ourselves in learning the truth and developing a complete understanding of who God is and what He has to say. It is up to us to prepare properly so that we get maximum benefit from our study time. It is up to us to retain a proper posture so that God does not have to fight against the grain to gift us with His truth. It is up to us to consider, contemplate and meditate upon scripture for depth of comprehension. So let us not simply pick up a bible and read a passage now and then. Let us not merely do our daily duty and move on with our day. Let us instead put ourselves in a position to grow exponentially and bear the fruit we were created to bear.

May God grant us the wisdom, strength, and dedication to study and show ourselves approved when the tests come. In Jesus name we pray...AMEN!!
 

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