This is the third post seeking to give practical ideas from issues raised in the sermon two weeks ago on the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders. In the first two posts we discussed practical ways to keep Jesus central in our use of Scripture and ideas for Bible intake. This third post is going to focus on Bible output, or in other words, making sure we have the proper response to our interaction with the Bible. As with the others, would love to have interaction and feedback from you with other ideas, making the blog a discussion on our use of the Scriptures.
To do this I need to begin by explaining the goal the Bible has for us. In the first blog in the series I said that the goal was to lead us to come to Jesus, seeing Jesus. If the Bible leads us to Christ, then our response is always a three step response of repentance, faith, and obedience. In other words, we see that we have followed our own path either through self-salvation in our sin or self-salvation in our goodness and religion. The first step we need to take every time we read the Bible is to move in repentance away from self and to Christ. Second, we trust Him. This means that we place our faith in what Jesus did on the cross, and it means we trust that He is a good King who knows us better than we know ourselves. It means that we trust that He has our joy and good in mind when He gives us commands. It means that we trust Jesus more than we trust our stock report, our gift set, our newspaper, and our political party. And when we trust in Christ, we obey His commands. He is our God, He is our King, so we obey. When we read a passage this is what faithful Bible output means, that we run to Christ in repentance, we trust Him fully, and we move toward obedience. And not just one time obedience, but life transformed obedience that comes with the presence of the Holy Spirit as we read.
So here are some thoughts and ideas to consider when reading.
*Bow your knee before reading the text. In other words, ask yourself if you are reading so that you can discover what the text says in order to determine if it is reasonable to obey, or if you have already determined to obey whether the text fits your life or not.
*Look for the following in each passage
- Is there a promise to be believed?
- Is there a command to be obeyed?
- Is there a teaching that needs to be incorporated?
- Is there a reproof that you need to hear?
- Is there a call to prayer that needs to be heeded?
- Is there a picture of God that needs to be exalted in worship?
- Is there a sin to be confessed and repented?
- Is there a truth to apply or that I need to incorporate
- Is there a value that needs to shape my life?
*Take one step – as you read the Bible each day, seek to incorporate one thing from your reading into your life on that day. Write it down, and think about it all day long. If the challenge is patience, then be mindful when you are having conversations with others or in the check out line at McDonalds. We often read a chapter or so of Scripture that says so much, and we leave thinking about all of it, but don’t do any of it. Picking one thing each day for focus will help.
*Seek accountability in the tough things – Sometimes we will come to a Biblical idea or command that is tough for us. The Fall has run deep and sin is entrenched. The goal of course is to trust in Christ, but sometimes the best path to move in that direction is to find someone to either walk the journey with you or who you can meet with regularly to pray about the struggle and who can love you with accountability.
*Of course, you knew I was going to plug Community Groups. But remember that the Christian life was never designed as an individual sport, but as a team sport. So this means that Bible application should always be done with your group.
*Pray the text – as you read a passage of Scripture, pray the ideas and phrases of the text, as if you were holding a dialogue with God as He shares His thoughts in the Word.