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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How Do I Understand the Bible? - SCPTP

While we are often told that reading and studying the Bible are important, many are not sure where to begin or how to study the Bible. A simple way to learn more about the Bible is to read a few verses or even one verse at a time asking five questions. If you're new to reading or studying the Bible, this type of study creates a great foundation for deeper study at a later time.

How do you go about this study?

Choose a passage to read. This study works best when reading a single verse or paragraph in the Bible. Over time you can read a variety of short passages or you can choose to read through a book a paragraph at a time. This study works particularly well with the Gospels (Matthew through John) or the Epistles (Romans through Jude) in the New Testament. You may want to begin with a shorter book such as Philippians, Colossians, or 1 John.

Pray. Ask God to guide you through the Holy Spirit into a deeper understanding of His message to you through the Bible.

Read and Record. Read your chosen passage for the day. In a journal or on an electronic device jot down the date, reference of the passage you read, and then the answers to the following questions:

Is there a . . .

Sin to confess?
Command to obey?
Promise to claim?
Truth to understand and believe?
Prayer to pray?

Sin to Confess - Does the Bible address a particular sin, something that God says is not what He desires for us? If so, jot that down. To apply this question to your own life, ask yourself if this is a sin that you have given into. If so, God tells us to confess our sin and He will forgive us. (1 John 1:9)

Command to Obey - Is there something that God wants us to do? What is that? Record the answer in your journal. Think about how you can begin to do this thing God is asking of you.

Promise to Claim - Does God make a promise to you in this verse? Write down what the promise is. How can claiming that promise help you in your current circumstances?

Truth to Understand and Believe - What truth is captured in this verse or paragraph? Why is it important? What difference does it make in your life?

Prayer to Pray - Is there a prayer given? What does it say? What does it help you understand about how to pray? Are you willing to pray this prayer to God?

Let's do an example together:

We'll try a verse that is familiar to many, Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

Is there a sin to confess? Not specifically.

Is there a command to obey? Yes, more than one: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart" and "In all your ways acknowledge him". And, we are told not to lean on our own understanding (our own intellect, reasoning, or logic). How can I do this? Currently I am in the midst of working with my family to make some serious decisions. In those decisions I need to choose to trust God and to acknowledge His ability to guide us.

Is there a promise to claim? Absolutely, "he will make straight your paths." I can have assurance that as I trust God and acknowledge Him in these decisions that He will guide us and he will show us clearly the right thing to do.

Is there a truth to understand and believe? Nothing beyond those we've already identified.

Is there a prayer to pray? Not specifically, however praying Scripture and asking for God's help to trust and acknowledge Him, to avoid leaning on our own understanding, and claiming His promise to us, is appropriate and can make our prayer times more meaningful.

Have you ever tried studying the Bible this way? Was it helpful? 
What has helped you to study the Bible?

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