BIBLE STUDY WITH A PURPOSE
Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
There have been certain classes in school for me that were intimidating: Latin in junior high school, calculus in high school, and Greek in graduate school are near the top of the list. There were other topics that I avoided: I didn’t take any math in college because I didn’t have to. Many people view the Bible as ancient, confusing, and best to avoid. I never opened the Bible during the first eighteen years of my life, so I can relate to having no desire to read it. As I look back now, I’m so grateful that those misleading feelings didn’t keep me from discovering God’s Word. It is a treasure; but in today’s culture, it’s easy to ignore such a wonderful and untapped gift. God’s grace flows out of Scripture, and reading the Bible is one habit that allows us to consistently draw from God’s refreshing fountain.
That is the Bible. Have you ever had a strong desire to know God better? The Ethiopian man wanted to learn more about God, so he began reading the Bible. But there was one problem: he didn’t understand what he was reading. Have you ever opened up the Bible, started reading, and couldn’t make any sense of it at all? Don’t feel bad. Even the apostle Peter mentions that some of Paul’s writings can be difficult to understand (2 Peter 3:15-16). But, even though it can be difficult, it is still worth the effort. Some of the best things in life come with perseverance, and the Holy Spirit will enlighten you as you read.
As a child, my grandparents challenged me each day I was with them to write down something I saw, something I learned, and one way in which I helped someone. It gave me a new perspective on my day. In a similar way, practical tools make it easier to understand God’s Word and discover His grace:
1) Pray before you read and ask the Holy Spirit to help give you insight into the Scripture. God will shed light on His Word. 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, John 14:24-26, and 1 John 2:27 are some of the verses that explain how the Holy Spirit gives you spiritual understanding.
Find a friend who can help you as you read. Philip was able to come alongside the Ethiopian and teach him about the book of Isaiah. Look for a friend who is strong in their faith
and can read with you and discuss the passage. In college, Mike Helton met with me every morning, and we read through the gospel of Matthew together, a few verses at a time. Brian Birdsall also faithfully walked me through the Bible. I know I asked these men hundreds of questions, but they were very patient with me.
3) Get connected to a healthy church that teaches from the Word of God. Choose a church where you are spiritually fed.
4) Check out some resources like the NIV Study Bible, NIV Life Application Bible, or commentaries that explain passages in greater depth. You can purchase these at a Christian bookstore or by ordering them on the Internet. You can also find free eBibles and Bible Apps which are great options.
5) Make it a priority to add time for God’s Word in your daily schedule. Your faith grows as you spend time reading the Bible; you can’t live on bread alone; the Word is our spiritual food. Get some good meals. Dive into Scripture and God will meet you there. Then apply His truth to your life.
Consider these helpful questions as you read the Bible:
1) What does the passage teach you about God?
2) Are there any examples to follow or anything to avoid?
3) What statements are encouraging in the passage? Are there any promises?
4) Noticing key words, what is the basic message of the passage?
5) Are there any verses you want to memorize or use for meditation?
6) What difference does this make in your life? How can you apply it now?
7) What do the verses teach you about people and relationships?
8) What parts of the passage are not clear?
9) Are there any other verses that are similar to this passage?
10) Who can you share this passage with during the week?
2 Timothy 3:16-17. The Bible is God’s Word and is completely reliable.
Psalm 1:1-3. Meditating on Scripture will bear fruit in your life.
Romans 10:16-17. Your faith can grow by listening to God’s Word.
Psalm 119:103-105. You will gain understanding and guidance for your decisions.
1 Peter 1:23-25. The Word of God is eternal; it stands forever.
Hebrews 4:12. The Bible can penetrate your innermost being.
God, thank You for the Bible and the insight You give me as I read it. Help me to apply what I learn so I can live it during the week. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
For more from Pastor Jesse Bradley and Activate Media Ministries, visit www.activatelife.org