The resurrection is the hope of the Bible. As Paul says, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17)
Habits are formed by the repetition of particular acts. They are strengthened by an increase in the number of repeated acts. Habits are also weakened or broken, and contrary habits formed by the repetition of contrary acts. – Mortimer J. Adler
Use Social Media: Post a verse or a thought from your reading.
Allies: Plan to do a reading with someone (can you skype? meet somewhere?)
Interaction: Ask a question you have from your reading. Ask your family, friends, or use social media. Investigate it yourself and then share what you find out.
There seem to be so many different ways of interpreting the Bible. The incredible thing about the Bible is that it is like a gold mine. You have to dig and search and really look to find the treasure. When you do this, however, you will find that it is actually amazingly consistent and that truth is there to be discovered. The important thing is to remember that the truth must come from the Bible itself and not from a commentary. The Bible is the inspired word of God, but commentaries are the thoughts of men and need to be checked against what the Bible itself says.
The Bible seems a bit old-fashioned sometimes. Although it may seem counter-cultural in places, the Bible has actually remained relevant and helpful for thousands of years. You may need to dig a little deeper and discover what is behind the ideas that seem old-fashioned to you at first.
Quest 7: What character in the Bible inspires you to strive harder or has the kind of experiences that you would like to have? Write down what character strengths you admire in this person. What are some ways you could use this person as an inspiration in your life? Write out some quotations from this person, or verses that show them using the particular character strength.
Quest 8: “A value isn’t something you can ever get or achieve, it describes how you want to live and gives purpose to every single day.” (Jane McGonigal) What are your values? If you want, take this survey (disclosure: it is put out by a humanist organization). Now, take your top strength and find out what the Bible has to say about it. For example, perhaps your #1 value is bravery – look up “courage” in Nave’s Topical Bible. Come up with a list of seven ways to use your top five value strengths.
Verses to meditate on:
We first make our habits, and then our habits make us. -John Dryden
Energy: Maybe you need to go for a quick wake up walk first? Or do a few stretches or exercises?
Preparation: Do you have a little spot to do your reading in? A comfy chair with everything you need right there? A cup of tea or coffee? A warm blanket? (no falling asleep though).
Comfort: Do you have a Bible that makes reading easy? Do you find the version you are reading easy to understand? Is the print big enough? Is the Bible easy to hold? Can you make notes in it?
Sitting still: Listen to an audio version of the Bible while you are exercising or keeping your hands busy. Break a reading up into smaller parts so you only need to spend a short time sitting still. Challenge yourself to sit still and read for 15 minutes at a time – put a timer on or some music.
Organization: Buy a basket or bag in which you put everything you may need for you Bible study time – your Bible, a copy of your reading plan, a notebook and pen and keep it in one place. Have a specific time (set an alarm) when you just drop everything else and read.
Quest 5: Look up Deuteronomy 11:18,19. What does the Hebrew word for “heart” mean? Make a list of all of its possible meanings. How does one “lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul”? Make a list of ways you can do this.
Quest 6: Write out – type and print – paint – draw – or in whatever creative means you wish, the words of Deuteronomy 11:18-21, and put them up somewhere in your house where you can be reminded of them. As we go through this study, do the same thing with other helpful verses you find until you have a section of Scripture in every room of your house.
Verses to Meditate on:
A child’s world is most often a world of innocence. A world where faith is easy because we are cared for, provided for, loved, and safe. I know this is not always the case, and this is tragic and should not be, but for me, it was easy to trust as a child.
It was not until I lost a baby after 23 difficult weeks of pregnancy that I stopped trusting, that I stopped feeling safe and provided for. Suddenly I was afraid of everything.
Although I had always known that God does not always say “yes” to prayers about healing, that wonderful, faithful people did not always live out their lives in full, that heartache and tragedy were not unknown by many people I knew, it had never affected me so directly. Now I felt vulnerable and open to any and everything that could go wrong. And I could not stop imagining all the things that could go wrong.
It has taken me a long time to figure out what God means when he says, “Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place – the Most High, who is my refuge – no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.” (Psalm 91:9-10 ESV) God has not promised an absence of evil, but only that it will not be used to destroy us.
When God looks at our lives, He sees the past, present and future; we only see the past and present – how short that must be to Him. But He has not left us alone.
God has provided a place for us to take refuge during the difficulties and trials of mortal life which doesn’t banish the difficulties and trials, but instead gives us a reason to stand strong through them. A refuge is a place to feel safe and to hold on to hope. Just as a child can feel safe and hopeful in their parents arms, even in scary situations, so God offers us the same comfort under the shadow of His wings.
In Old Testament times, the mercy seat lay beneath the shadow of the wings of the cherubim and this was the place where God met with His people. In the New Testament, Jesus became the mercy seat or meeting place between God and man. “So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:17-20 ESV)
This hope that we can hold onto like an anchor is the certain hope of a future. “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-22 ESV)
If we can hold on to this hope, if we can trust that He is faithful, if we can have the faith of a little child, then nothing that happens to us can destroy us utterly.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17 ESV)
Cultivate only the habits that you are willing should master you. – Elbert Hubbard
Assistance: Enlist the help of your family or friends or find a commentary that will help you to understand what you are reading.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. (James 1:5-6 ESV)
Meditation: Take a few minutes to meditate on Psalm 119:9-16.
Ritual: Make reading the Scriptures part of your daily ritual. Try tying it to something that you do every day anyways. For example, read while you drink your morning cup of coffee, listen to it while you are out exercising. If you make a plan for reading, and try to do it at the same time, it becomes part of your life rhythm.
Feeling like it is not helping. Sometimes it can feel like no matter how much we read and take in the instruction it contains, it only makes us feel more imperfect and sinful. The fact is that we will never be perfect, but it does open our eyes to the ideals and that is a nudge in the right direction. Perhaps we can look at it as giving God a voice in our lives. Instead of feeling badly about it, we can see it as something God wants to speak to us about.
One law of the spiritual life from the operation of which no man can escape is that nothing can come into us unless it can get out of us. We commonly suppose that study is the road to learning. Upon the contrary, long-continued acquisitive study, absorbing information without expressing it, is the surest way to paralyze the mind. He who would be a scholar must not only study but teach, write, lecture, apply his knowledge to practical uses. Somehow he must give what he gets or soon he will get no more. – H.E. Fosdick
Can`t concentrate. I need quiet if I want to concentrate. It doesn’t have to be long, but I also need to know I won’t be interrupted. Some days this doesn’t happen, but that’s okay. Every day is a new opportunity. Sometimes music in the background can help set the tone or bring us to a receptive state of mind.
Digging a little deeper:
Quest 3: Do a search for the word “hear” – look at it specifically in the book of Proverbs. What does the Hebrew word mean? Read through the list of verses, and record what it says about hearing. What do you need to be doing in order to hear?
Quest 4: Do a search for “word of God”. Skim through the verses and find ones which give us ways in which God’s word relates to us. Read through the following verses and make notes on what the “mind of the spirit” is and how it contrasts with the “mind of the flesh”: Philippians 4:8; Romans 12:10-21; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Ephesians 6:13-18; Philippians 2:5-8; Romans 15:1-4.
Verses to meditate on:
To develop a habit of feeding our spirit every day from the Scriptures. You may choose to read through one book of the Bible, or follow a reading plan that is chronological or one that reads from both Old and New Testaments everyday, or perhaps just a topical list of Scriptures.
Building a habit takes persistence, not perfection. Don’t give up if you mess up, just get back to it. – Jane McGonigal
Prayer: Think of reading as the other side to prayer. You talk to God and then He talks to you. There are many little prayers in the Scriptures. Search some out and memorize them.
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. – Psalm 25:4-5 ESV
Music: What music do you find lifts you up and encourages you to seek God in His word. Make a playlist for your meditation time.
Time: Take time to watch the sun rise in the morning (set your alarm if you have to), and appreciate what a difference light makes. Light is often a metaphor for knowledge. If you are able to, try to rise early enough to have time to talk and listen to God first thing in the morning.
There are plenty of things that could happen to make it difficult to get some time with God every day, so here are a few suggestions on how to beat them.
Too tired: Keep it short so it doesn’t seem like a burden – eventually it will feel like something you can’t do without. Break it up over the day so that you can fit it in whenever you have little bits of time. Try this: Feed my spirit. Schedule it into your calendar so that it becomes part of your day.
Finding it boring: Try reading some of the exciting stories in the Bible: The Flood (Genesis 6,7); The Plagues (Exodus 7,8); Samson (Judges 16); David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17), Jonah (Jonah 1,2); The Birth of Christ (Luke 1,2). Use study tools to help make the reading come alive, look at maps, cross references, the original Hebrew/Greeks words, Bible dictionaries. Draw pictures. Ask each other questions. Act it out. Use different versions of the Bible.
Dig a little deeper:
Quest 1: Assemble some equipment for better understanding the Bible. It is helpful to have a Bible, a Strong’s Concordance, the Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge, and a Nave’s Topical Bible Dictionary. Additional versions of the Bible are also helpful. One option is the actual physical books themselves, but they are also available online. You can try: blueletterbible.org or biblestudytools.com. Other options include downloading e-sword for offline use (you may need to download the Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge and Nave’s Topical Bible separately). Or you can download an app for your phone: mysword or blueletterbible.
Quest 2: When it comes to having time with God, we are all different. For some, reading silently is enough. Others find it easier to listen. Some find it helpful to draw or perhaps act it out. Maybe reading outloud is best for you. Or maybe it helps you to have a notebook and pen ready? Think about what way may work best for you. Your quest is to make your reading time something you and anyone reading with you will look forward to. And to add a little bit of purpose, each day look for one statement, idea, question, answer, etc. that you can share with others and then share it! (with your family, on social media, in a journal, whatever works for you).
Verses to meditate on this week: