Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Reflection - Making Sure You Go to Jesus - Reading the Bible

Source (book): "Finding rest for the soul", Chapter Three, Question 2, Page 58.
By Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000 - 2012


How can you improve the way you read and meditate on the Bible? How can you learn to listen to the Lord's voice better?
PHOTO: How can you improve the way you read and meditate on the Bible?
Improve the way we read the Bible
[2]
With the right tools and practices, we can extract all the life and principles in the Bible that can help us grow and mature the way God would have us. There are six ways to grow in our Bible reading and how we can start making the most of God's Word.
1. Remove All Distractions
2. Memorise Scripture
3. Ask for the Holy Spirit's Leading
4. Look Through the Lens of the Cross
5. Journal Your Thoughts
6. Find Out How we Can Apply the Scripture to Our Life


When reading scripture, it helpful to answer two simple questions: What is the fallen condition of man in this word? How does the cross fix the brokenness?

Improve the way we meditate on the Bible [3]
To meditate is to think deeply about what God has said to us in the Bible and prepare our minds and hearts for prayer. Scripture is the foundation of our praying; meditation readies us for it by helping us focus, understand, remember, worship, and apply.
1. Meditate to Focus
2. Meditate to understand
3. Meditate to remember
4. Meditate to worship
5. Meditate to apply
6. Meditate by the Spirit


God is our great help and hope. We are never alone when we seek Him through meditation. He effectively prompts us to pray in response.

How can you learn to listen to the Lord's voice better?
Steps we can take to make ourselves ready to hear what He has to say. [4]
1. Read God’s Word
2. Seek Him in Prayer
3. Meditate on His Truth
4. Be still before the Lord in Prayer
5. Listen to Him

Quietness is essential to listening. Listening, however goes further, involving the mind. Genuine listening is active, meaning that it puts the mind in gear and pays attention to everything said, looking intently for the meaning. God wants us to listen to Him actively!
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Assess the way you are reading the Bible. Do you feel a growing hunger for God's Word? If not, why? How can you improve the way you read and meditate on the Bible? How can you learn to listen to the Lord's voice better?

Assess the way you are reading the Bible.

Frequency of reading - One chapter of one book per day. If too long, then half a chapter.
Meditation - Almost none
Time - About 10 minutes reading and a few minutes praying.
Understanding - Not up to 100% - Roughly make out what the writer is trying to say.
Remembering - Forget very fast. Hardly remember what was read the day before.
Usage - Not so frequent. Only quote some verses once in a while when blogging using Google search.
Assessment - Far below average

 

Assessment - Far below average
PHOTO: Assessment - Far below average
The message read from the Bible is either forgotten or unable to apply them to our daily life. Not enough effort is put into meditation resulting in poor understanding of the content. Have not tried taking down notes and therefore need to depend on the internet 'search' to look for related information. Have not yet master the method of digging into the Bible through the perspective of Jesus on the cross. However, managed to spend at least some time reading daily, although in a rather hurried manner.
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Do you feel a growing hunger for God's Word? If not, why?
Not hungry for God's Word because:
1. Not all the books are as exciting
2. Feel tired and sleepy when the messages are too complicated
3. Read to know more about God, Jesus and Holy Spirit wanting Love, Peace and Salvation


 Not hungry for God's Word


PHOTO: Not hungry for God's Word
Not all the books in the Bible are as exciting. Feel tired and sleepy when the messages are too complicated
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How can you improve the way you read and meditate on the Bible?
In Scripture, God speaks to us. In prayer we speak to him. What God says to us prompts what we say to him. [3]

Improve the way we read the Bible [2]
The scriptures are the primary ways that God speaks His truth and commands to us and our way to experience success here on earth (Joshua 1:8). 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness."

With the right tools and practices, we can extract all the life and principles in the Bible that can help us grow and mature the way God would have us. There are six ways to grow in our Bible reading and how we can start making the most of God's Word.



There are ways to grow in our Bible reading and how we can start making the most of God's Word.


PHOTO: There are ways to grow in our Bible reading and how we can start making the most of God's Word.
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1. Remove All Distractions
There could be so many things distracting us from God's Word today. Some are common to all such as gadgets, social media and work, while others are not so common. Some people have a hard time meditating with music while others love reading with worship songs. The key is to find whatever improves our personal focus.


Remove All Distractions
PHOTO: Remove All Distractions
The key is to find whatever improves our personal focus.
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2. Memorise Scripture
There is both a physical and spiritual value to memorising scripture. In the same way that we memorise songs, poems, spoken word and business codes and grow in them more, we also grow more into scriptures when we internalise (make attitudes or behaviour part of one's nature by learning or unconscious assimilation) them enough to memorise them.


Memorise Scripture
PHOTO: Memorise Scripture
We also grow more into scriptures when we internalise (make attitudes or behaviour part of one's nature by learning or unconscious assimilation) them enough to memorise them.
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3. Ask for the Holy Spirit's Leading
The Holy Spirit is extremely crucial to reading the Bible. The Word of God without the Spirit of God is like a body without spirit—it exists and speaks, but there's no life.


 Ask for the Holy Spirit's Leading

PHOTO: Ask for the Holy Spirit's Leading
The Holy Spirit is extremely crucial to reading the Bible. The Word of God without the Spirit of God is like a body without spirit—it exists and speaks, but there's no life.
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4. Look Through the Lens of the Cross
When reading scripture, it helpful to answer two simple questions: What is the fallen condition of man in this word? How does the cross fix the brokenness?


 Look Through the Lens of the Cross


PHOTO: Look Through the Lens of the Cross
When reading scripture, it helpful to answer two simple questions: What is the fallen condition of man in this word? How does the cross fix the brokenness?
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5. Journal Your Thoughts
When God speaks to us a revelation, it's not going to stay in our head forever unless we have perfect memory. That's why it's always best to write down what revelations and ideas we gain from Bible reading and reflecting. As the old saying goes, "A short pencil is better than a long memory."



Journal Your Thoughts


PHOTO: Journal Your Thoughts
It's always best to write down what revelations and ideas we gain from Bible reading and reflecting.
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6. Find Out How we Can Apply the Scripture to Our Life
The Bible is not some old and outdated piece of literature. It's a book filled with timeless principles that can still apply to us today. When reading the Bible, we must ask ourselves how we can apply the principles taught in scripture. [2]



Find Out How we Can Apply the Scripture to Our Life

PHOTO: Find Out How we Can Apply the Scripture to Our Life
The Bible is a book filled with timeless principles that can still apply to us today. When reading the Bible, we must ask ourselves how we can apply the principles taught in scripture.
Application: Ask yourself, "What does the passage mean to me and how can I apply it to my life?"
Make a list of the following:

  • Attitudes to be changed
  • Actions to take or avoid
  • Promises to claim
  • Sins to confess and forsake
  • Examples to follow
  • Other personal applications
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Improve the way we meditate on the Bible [3]
To meditate is to think deeply about what God has said to us in the Bible and prepare our minds and hearts for prayer. Scripture is the foundation of our praying; meditation readies us for it by helping us focus, understand, remember, worship, and apply.



Improve the way we meditate on the Bible

PHOTO: Improve the way we meditate on the Bible
To meditate is to think deeply about what God has said to us in the Bible and prepare our minds and hearts for prayer. Scripture is the foundation of our praying; meditation readies us for it by helping us focus, understand, remember, worship, and apply.
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Meditate to Focus
"I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways." (Psalm 119:15).
Aleph says in Psalm 119 that he fixes his eyes on God’s ways. (there are 22 Hebrew letters are alphabets. ALEF is the 1st letter which represents God the Father. It is sometimes written as ALEPH. Most scholars agree that Psalm was written by David). As wayward humans with many pursuits, temptations, and people vying for our attention, we are greatly helped by meditation, which leads us to fix our eyes on the Lord and tune out distractions…even if only for five or ten minutes. Focusing on what we are reading in the Bible provides us clarity when we enter into prayer.


Meditate to Focus


PHOTO: Meditate to Focus
"I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways." (Psalm 119:15). As wayward humans with many pursuits, temptations, and people vying for our attention, we are greatly helped by meditation, which leads us to fix our eyes on the Lord and tune out distractions…even if only for five or ten minutes. Focusing on what we are reading in the Bible provides us clarity when we enter into prayer.
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Meditate to Understand
"Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works." (Psalm 119:27). Some questions to ask during meditation include: Why is this passage important? What do I need to know? What does it say about God? What does it say about me? How does this reading point to Jesus? Meditate to understand what God is communicating to us through his Word.



Meditate to Understand PHOTO: Meditate to Understand
"Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works." (Psalm 119:27).
Some questions to ask during meditation include: Why is this passage important? What do I need to know? What does it say about God? What does it say about me? How does this reading point to Jesus? Meditate to understand what God is communicating to us through his Word.
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Meditate to Remember
"I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands." (Psalm 143:5).
The whole Bible all the way points to Jesus Christ. When we meditate on Scripture to remember all that God has done in his great redemption story and how he sent Christ to save a people from their sin. We ponder the work of God’s hands. Remembering in meditation may also bring us to ponder all that God has done in our own lives: how he saved us in Christ, what opportunities to share the Good News with others, and what we have learned about who God is throughout our days. Meditate to remember all that God has done through the gospel of grace.



Meditate to Remember


PHOTO: Meditate to Remember
"I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands." (Psalm 143:5).
The whole Bible all the way points to Jesus Christ. When we meditate on Scripture to remember all that God has done in his great redemption story and how he sent Christ to save a people from their sin. Remembering in meditation may also bring us to ponder all that God has done in our own lives. Discover the opportunities to share the Good News with others, and what we have learned about who God is throughout our days.
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Meditate to Worship
"…but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night." (Psalm 1:2).
Once we have meditated to focus, understand, and remember, we will find our hearts inclined to worship! So we pause in meditation to lift our gaze to the excellencies of Jesus Christ, to take our eyes off the world, and to express to him thanksgiving and adoration when we pray. Meditation leads to delight when the Holy Spirit inclines our hearts to understand how glorious our God is.

 
Because of sin and its effects, there will be times when our hearts do not feel like delighting in the reading of the Bible. During these moments, the temptation is to stop reading, lose focus, and move on to other activities. So meditation is also key to exhorting our hearts to delight in God’s Word, which is necessary for our spiritual strength and joy!

Meditate to worship the God who deserves all our thanks and praise for who he is and what he has done in Christ.


  Meditate to Worship


PHOTO: Meditate to Worship
"…but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night." (Psalm 1:2).
Once we have meditated to focus, understand, and remember, we will find our hearts inclined to worship! Because of sin and its effects, there will be times when our hearts do not feel like delighting in the reading of the Bible. During these moments, the temptation is to stop reading, lose focus, and move on to other activities. So meditation is also key to exhorting our hearts to delight in God’s Word, which is necessary for our spiritual strength and joy!
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Meditate to Apply
"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it." (Joshua 1:8). In meditating to understand we ask, What do I need to know? Here, in applying what we read, we ask, What do I need to do?

Here’s a brief example. Let’s say you are reading Titus 3:3-4:
"For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray…But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy…"

From this passage, we might be led to confess specific ways we have gone astray or been disobedient; we might praise God for providing his undeserved loving kindness in Christ for us; and we might ask for his help in loving someone who has hurt us with the mercy we've received in Christ Jesus.

Our desire in meditation is to "be careful to do according to all that is written" in the Bible. Then, we bring these points of application to God in prayer, asking for spiritual strength to obey, forsake sin, humble ourselves, and walk worthy of our calling in Christ. Meditate to apply what we have read in the Bible to our daily life and to ask for help in prayer.



Meditate to Apply


PHOTO: Meditate to Apply
"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it." (Joshua 1:8). In meditating to understand we ask, What do I need to know? Here, in applying what we read, we ask, What do I need to do?
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Meditate by the Spirit
It is no accident that the Bible often speaks about the value of meditation and its purposeful placement before the act of prayer. Consider that our time in the Word is like running a race: Meditation is the warm-up, and prayer is our sprint to the finish line. We cannot be effective in our praying without engaging in the warm-up of meditation.


 
Meditate by the Spirit

PHOTO: Meditate by the Spirit
Reading the Bible is having a personal conversation with God, and all of the messages you've been asking for come thundering through the verses. Consider that our time in the Word is like running a race: Meditation is the warm-up, and prayer is our sprint to the finish line. We cannot be effective in our praying without engaging in the warm-up of meditation.
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So what do we do when meditation seems impossible, when our focus is affected by outside circumstances and our hearts feel dulled to God’s Word?

We ask for, and cling to God’s gracious help, through the Holy Spirit. If we've not meditated before, it is never too late to begin! For it is the Spirit who helps us in our weakness to fix our eyes on Christ, giving us understanding, remember God’s wonderful works, filling us with joy, and to walk in the truth. He is our great help and hope. We are never alone when we seek God through meditation. He effectively prompts us to pray in response. [3]


How can you learn to listen to the Lord's voice better?
Steps we can take to make ourselves ready to hear what He has to say. [4]


  How can you learn to listen to the Lord's voice better?


PHOTO: How can you learn to listen to the Lord's voice better?
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1. Read God’s Word
By studying God’s Word, we begin to see His established order for our lives. We learn about His truth, mercy, love and forgiveness.



Read God’s Word


PHOTO: Read God’s Word
By studying God’s Word, we begin to see His established order for our lives. We learn about His truth, mercy, love and forgiveness.
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2. Seek Him in Prayer

Many times, bowing our heads is the best way to see God’s face and hear His voice. In opening ourselves up to Him in prayer, we can tell Him all that we are feeling and all that we are experiencing. Prayer is more than just a wish list for God – it’s a conversation in which we interact with Him.



Seek Him in Prayer

PHOTO: Seek Him in Prayer
In opening ourselves up to Him in prayer, we can tell Him all that we are feeling and all that we are experiencing.

"I want the burden to be lifted. I want help. I want to know how to solve the problem before it becomes too much for me.” Ask God to hold us in His love and light and show us the path He wants us to take. The road is often long and bumpy but we always end up where we need to be.
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3. Meditate on His Truth
Dwelling on what God speaks to our hearts is a great way to let His truths take root in our souls. Not only will what we read and hear from him impact our lives, but by meditating on it, God has the building materials to lay an unshakable foundation in our hearts. The psalmist said to the Lord, "I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation" (Psalm 119:99).



Meditate on His Truth


PHOTO: Meditate on His Truth
Not only will what we read and hear from him impact our lives, but by meditating on it, God has the building materials to lay an unshakable foundation in our hearts.
Picture posted by Salt Shakin'Sister-Barbara Chapmond Outreach & Ministry

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4. Be still before the Lord in Prayer
Many people seem uncomfortable with silence, especially if they are alone. In silence, however, we are able to hear the "still small voice" (1 Kings 19:12) – the voice of the Lord. Quietness is essential to listening. If we are too busy to sit in silence in God’s presence; if we are preoccupied with thoughts or concerns about the day; if we have filled our minds for hour upon hour with carnal interference and aimless chatter – then we are going to have difficulty listening for His still, small voice.
At some point during the day, be still before the Lord in prayer.



Be still before the Lord in Prayer


PHOTO: Be still before the Lord in Prayer
Quietness is essential to listening. If we have filled our minds for hour upon hour with carnal interference and aimless chatter – then we are going to have difficulty listening for His still, small voice.
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5. Listen to Him
You hear with your ears, If you have normal hearing, you can’t help hearing sounds within a certain audio range. Listening, however goes further, involving the mind. Genuine listening is active, meaning that it puts the mind in gear and pays attention to everything said, looking intently for the meaning. That’s how God wants us to listen to Him – actively!



Listen to Him


PHOTO:  Listen to Him
Listening involves the mind. Genuine listening is active, meaning that it puts the mind in gear and pays attention to everything said, looking intently for the meaning.
Picture posted by Camelia Ciobanu on Saturday, 16 July 2011

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 Listen to Him


PHOTO: Listen to Him
God wants us to listen to Him – actively!
Picture posted by Ahmet Koyutürk on 16th August 2012

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Dear Lord, My assessment shows that I am reading the Bible poorly. I have not being able to meditate well and is always in the hurry to finish it. Please help me to improve the way I read and meditate on the Bible. My listening is also far from effective. I need the help to learn to listen to the Lord's voice better. My mind needs to be in gear, paying attention and looking intently for the meaning. Please help me to listen actively and not in the tired and sleeply mode. Through Lord Jesus Christ I pray. Amen!


PHOTO: "Dear Lord, My assessment shows that I am reading the Bible poorly. I have not being able to meditate well and is always in the hurry to finish it. Please help me to improve the way I read and meditate on the Bible. My listening is also far from effective. I need the help to learn to listen to the Lord's voice better. My mind needs to be in gear, paying attention and looking intently for the meaning. Please help me to listen actively and not in the tired and sleeply mode. Through Lord Jesus Christ I pray. Amen!"
Picture posted by Doreen Virtue on 07 December 2017
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Reflection - Making Sure You Go to Jesus - Reading the Bible
By Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000 - 2012



Reference
[1] From "Finding rest for the soul" Responding to Jesus' Invitation in Matthew 11:28-29, Copyright © 2016 by Robert M. Solomon, ISBN 978-1-62707-709-5, Part I: Come to Me, Chapter Three "Making Sure You Go to Jesus", Page 45-58.

[2] Patrick Mabilog, 6 Ways to Improve Your Bible Reading, posted on Friday, 06 Jan 2017 at 5:21 GMT,  https://www.christiantoday.com/article/6-ways-to-improve-your-bible-reading/103582.htm

[3] Kristen Wetherell, Five Steps to Meditating on the Bible, posted on 21 October 2015, http://unlockingthebible.org/2015/10/five-steps-to-meditating-on-the-bible/

[4] HarperCollins Publishers, 5 Easy Things You Can Do to Hear the Lord’s Voice More Clearly, posted on 16 June 2017, https://www.bibleconnectionnews.com/5-easy-things-you-can-do-to-hear-the-lords-voice-more-clearly/

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