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Develop a system for lifelong Bible study

The King James Version of the Bible has 3,566,480 letters; 733,746 words; 31,163 verses; and 1,189 chapters. The longest chapter of the Bible is the 119th Psalm; the shortest is the 117th Psalm; the middle verse of the Bible is Psalm 118:8. The longest word in the Bible is "Mahershalalhashbaz" (Isaiah 8:1, 3); the shortest is the word "and," found some 46,227 times in Scripture. The longest verse is Esther 8:9; the shortest is John 11:35. And every letter of the alphabet is found in Ezra 7:21 (KJV). So what?

I hope we have learned some facts and truths about the word of God. We have learned why the Bible is authoritative; discovered it was written, compiled, and transmitted; and discussed "general hermeneutics," key principles for interpreting each passage within God's word. Grammatical - historical - theological - practical principles bring the word to life for its readers today. We have then explored "special hermeneutics," principles which apply to the various genres of Scripture. The workbook reviews these principles.

In this session we'll discuss guidelines for daily Bible study. Then we'll apply these to our lives and our commitment to Christ and his word.

First, determine a strategy for Bible reading. The workbook gives you a one-month and three-month method for reading the New Testament, and a plan for reading the entire Bible in a year. Choose these or some other method, but determine to study God's word systematically.

Second, identify a time and place to meet God in his word.

I believe that the best time to do this is as the day begins, following the example of Jesus: "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed" (Mark 1:35). You wouldn't run and then warm up, or drive the car and then fill the tank with gas. Start the day with God in his word.

Set aside a place and time where there will be no distractions. For instance, I cannot do personal Bible study very well at my office, as I am surrounded by the work of the day. I need a place where I do this and nothing else.

Third, ask God to use his word to change your life each day.

An old rabbi was walking down the village street. A member of his synagogue walked up to him, boasting loudly that he had read all the volumes of the Talmud three times. The rabbi replied, "The important thing is not how many times you have been through the Talmud, but whether the Talmud has been through you." The Buddhists have a saying, "To know and not to use, is not yet to know."

Conclusion

Thomas a Kempis (died 1471) was a scholar and copyist; he copied the entire Bible four times, one of which exists in a museum today in five volumes. His walk with the Lord was close, vibrant and intimate. His best-known work, The Imitation of Christ, is one of the most significant volumes of devotional literature in Christian history. Let's make his prayer ours:

Let not thy Word, O Lord, become a judgment on us,

That we hear it and do it not,

That we know it and love it not,

That we believe it and obey it not.

 

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