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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Study Notes: Stewardship of the Bible

Stewardship of the Bible 
Aim of the lesson:

•    To encourage regular devotional reading of the Bible and give some pointers as to how to do it.

Study passage: Psalm 119:89-112

·     The Bible is the soil from which all Christian faith grows. Who is God? Is there a Divine plan for the world? What is God's purpose for us? How should we live today? We cannot know these things ourselves. Only God can reveal them to us. There used to be a gramophone record label "His Master's Voice", and this is a good description of the Bible. In it we hear God's voice making known the Divine nature and will.
·     The purpose of reading the Bible. There are various reasons why we should read it:

-    To develop our relationship with God by coming to understand more of his mind, what things are truly important, how God works etc.
-    To meet with and get to know Jesus Christ, the Living Word (Jn 20:31).
-    To give God an opportunity to speak to us and guide us through the Holy Spirit.
-    To allow ourselves to become saturated with God's word. This will affect our thinking, enabling us to bear fruit for God, and helping us to be obedient to the teaching of Jesus (Jn 15:5-7, 2 Tim 3:16-17).

•    How to read the Bible

-    Be regular and disciplined. The Bible rewards those who "stick with it" Persistence is one of the essentials of all Christian living.
-    Read expectantly, believing that as we read God will meet with us and speak to us.
-    Come in reverence, for we are meeting with the living God.
-    Rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us and enable us to know God's will (Jn 16:13-14). (When we say God "speaks" to us we do not usually mean that we actually hear an audible voice, but rather that the Holy Spirit convicts us inwardly about truth, sin or duty.)
-    Allow sufficient time. Bible study cannot be rushed. We are told to "wait" on the Lord (Ps 27:13-14). Use the time as follows:
-    Read the passage slowly. Don't read too much at a time.
-    Think about it; allow the mind to grasp the meaning.
-    Where appropriate, use your imagination to picture the scene.
-    Ask what God is saying to you through the passage.
-    Ask how can I be obedient? What does God want me to do?
-    Keep a note book and write down special thoughts, commitments to be obedient etc.

·     If you are just setting out on this road and don't know where to start, begin in the New Testament with Luke and move on to Acts, John, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Ephesians. Daily Bible study notes can take you on from there. (See below)

·     Commentaries - Many good commentaries exist and can help us to interpret the meaning of the passage. Ask your minister or your local Christian bookshop to advise you. However, it is more important to actually read the Bible yourself, not just books about the Bible. The Holy Spirit guides us into the truth. Discover things for yourself at first-hand.

·     Daily Bible study notes - These are intended to help with personal daily Bible study. A passage will be given to read, followed by a page or so of devotional comment and explanation. Various series are available: again, your minister or nearest Christian bookshop will advise you.

·     Bible study in a group - We often learn more in a group than as individuals. An essential part of our Bible study is to meet in Christian fellowship, in our class meeting or home fellowship group (Heb 10.25). If you are not already part of such a group, make a serious effort to join one.
Questions for discussion:

1.      Have you ever had an occasion when you have felt that the Bible has really "spoken" to you? Share what happened and how you felt.
2.      What benefits does the Psalmist get from studying God's Word (see the study passage)?
3.      What special things do we notice about a person who has spent many years in faithful study of God's Word?
4.      How can we be more systematic and disciplined about reading the Bible? What problems do we experience?
5.      Why is it important to apply what we learn in our Bible study? 

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