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13 May 2007 @ 09:26 pm
Studying the Scriptures, Part 2  
James 1:21-25
1Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

The word of God is like a mirror. It is not meant to be something that is merely read, and then forgotten. To be effective, what it has to say needs to be applied to one's life.
It does not have to be as
Ecclesiastes 12:11-12 describes, where one turns a study of a bible passage into a daunting task, reading commentaries, word studies, Hebrew and Greek lexicons, encyclopaedias, atlases, and a myriad of cross references.
"11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one Shepherd. 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.
      Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body."
While having such study aids can be useful, it is not necessary, in order for us to understand the meaning of the scriptures.

The Process of Application

Step 1: A Bible scholar may know well the scriptures and the text. As importantly, you must know yourself, and where you are with the message the passage brings, and how you receive it.
Step 2: Think about how the passage relates to your own life and experiences.
Step 3: Meditate on the passage studied. Memorizing a verse or passage of verses can help it to sink in.
Step 4: Practice what it says. Like anything, it doesn't come easily at first, but there can be no progress made without practice.

Are there examples to follow from the scriptures?
Certainly. Paul was an example, and he urged all believers to be so.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved..."
Notice how much of the Bible is biographical.

Is there a sin to avoid?
Ephesians 4:25-31
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

Is there a promise to claim?
1 John 2:25  "And this is what he promised us—even eternal life."
One must look at what promises apply to us today. Who was being told this promise? Was it specific to a time and people, or is it universal? It all depends on the context. See the previous post concerning the 10 question to ask about the study of any given passage of scripture.

Is there a prayer to reiterate as an example?
Psalms 119:73-80
Your hands made me and formed me;
       give me understanding to learn your commands.

 74 May those who fear you rejoice when they see me,
       for I have put my hope in your word.

 75 I know, O LORD, that your laws are righteous,
       and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.

 76 May your unfailing love be my comfort,
       according to your promise to your servant.

 77 Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
       for your law is my delight.

 78 May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause;
       but I will meditate on your precepts.

 79 May those who fear you turn to me,
       those who understand your statutes.

 80 May my heart be blameless toward your decrees,
       that I may not be put to shame.

Is there a command to obey?
1 John 2:8-10
8Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.
 9Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.

It's been said 95% of God's Word is God's command, and if we apply it to our lives, we won't have trouble figuring out the other 5%.

Is there a condition to meet?
Acts 2:38-39 is a direct command that was met with a great response, because the people listening realized there was a condition that had to be met..
Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call."

Is there a verse to memorize?
Some verses and passage may strike a chord with us, and we may want to keep that verse in memory, as memorizing things helps shape our thoughts.It becomes more absorbed into our consciousness.

Example Romans 1:16-17
 16I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

Personal note: While memorizing is beneficial to one's absorbing the scriptures, it is not a necessary element in study.  What is helpful is memorizing where, in general, certain passages are in the Bible, so that it is easy to find them when you want to look something up. I have a bad memory to the point where I need tabs on my Bible to find certain books. Also having a quick concordance in the back  of the Bible is helpful in looking up certain passages.  After a while I have found that I can remember certain passages if they are read often enough, so while I cannot memorize  verses verbatim, I can memorize what the passages are speaking of, and their meaning.
And the benefits of this are great.

1 Corinthians 1:4-9
4 I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge— 6 because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

Verses can stand out to each of us in a personal way. It addresses our spirits. One grows  in faith and in spirit if they apply the teachings of scripture to their lives. None of this is easy to do. It takes determination and perseverance to continue in this, but the rewards later on are far greater than the present troubles we may have.

Is there a challenge to meet?
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Being a Christian is like being an Olympian in a spiritual sense. It involves a daily workout,  it involves setting goals to improve your performance, and it involves getting the proper nourishment.
Our spiritual nourishment is the Word of God.
1 Peter 2:1-3
1Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

It is important to mature in the knowledge of the Word, or we will stagnate.

Hebrews 5:12-13
In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.

It is important to have this knowledge to warn others who are in error. An Old Testament example is given to Ezekiel, concerning his responsibility to warn the house of Israel of its sins.

Ezekiel 3:16-19
16 At the end of seven days the word of the LORD came to me: 17 "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18 When I say to a wicked man, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for [a] his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.

We should hunger for the Word of God, even the things that rebuke and challenge us to change.

Proverbs 27:7
7 He who is full loathes honey,
       but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.

There is always something to learn from the scriptures, even for someone who has studied every day for 75 years. You can read a passage for the hundredth time, and think "I know about this already". But with the proper attitude, even a scripture passage that is read for the hundred and first time will be as though it were read for the first time.

 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
1Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

 3It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4that each of you should learn to control his own body[a] in a way that is holy and honorable, 5not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 6and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 7For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

In this life's journey, full of dangerous shoals, if we do not have God's Word as your navigational chart, then we will eventually run aground.