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The Benefits of Cracking Open the Good Book

The Benefits of Cracking Open the Good Book

Do you like to study the Bible? I ask that question because many of us view Bible study as a bore and a chore, like eating oatmeal or regular exercise. But it’s more important than that: Bible study feeds your mind and your mind is crucial to your spiritual transformation. Romans 12:2 says “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The key to putting off the old, broken, sinful self is to have your mind made new. Yet there is a common snag to our mind being renewed: you and I tend to believe lies: people lie to us; the world lies to us; we even lie to ourselves.

What are these lies? Dr. Chris Thurman, a Christian psychologist wrote a book called The Lies We Believe where he lists many of the lies that entangle our thinking and stunt our spiritual growth. Here are just a few: 1—Self Lies: “I must be perfect…I must have everyone’s love and approval…It is easier to avoid problems than to face them…I can’t be happy unless things go my way…It’s somebody else’s fault.” 2—Worldly Lies: “You can have it all…You are only as good as what you do…Life should be easy.” 3—Marital Lies: “It’s all your fault…If it takes hard work, we must not be right for each other…You can and should meet all my needs…I shouldn’t have to change.” 4—Religious Lies: “God’s love must be earned…God hates the sin and sinner…Because I’m a Christian, God will protect me from pain and suffering…It is my Christian duty to meet all the needs of others.”

If you believe any of those lies, you are inhibiting your spiritual growth. We tend to act on what we think about; we make choices based on the attitude of our minds, even if our thoughts are false or wrong. So how do you get rid of these lies? By filling your mind with the truth. In John 17:17 Jesus was praying to his Father before he was arrested and hung on the cross. He was praying for his disciples and he was praying for us and he said “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” This word “sanctify” means “to purify.” The Bible is God’s word. It reveals God’s thoughts and God’s heart. The Bible is not just a historical book written by people who lived a long time ago: it is living, active, relevant and potent. Therefore, when we study the Bible, God pours his truth and purity inside of us.

What is the best way to study the Bible? There are many ways, but let me suggest just a few:
1—Read through the Bible in one year. You can actually purchase a “one year Bible” that breaks the Bible into 365 daily readings. 2—Soak yourself in a passage. Less is more: read a passage every day for a week or a month until it sticks: you have memorized it, pondered it and applied it. 3—Purchase a study Bible. I have a study Bible that provides summaries and outlines, commentary & cross referencing and gives the cultural background to a passage so I don’t misinterpret what the Bible is saying. Some have maps and diagrams for those of us who are visual learners. 4—Purchase a Bible Study. If you are someone who needs structure, an individual book study might be a good thing for you. You could study Ephesians, Amos, Luke or Proverbs, just to name a few.
5—Embrace Bible Study as a life-long journey. You can always learn something from the Bible whatever your age. The Bible has thousands of pages. No one can possibly plumb the depths of this beautiful book! Take it from me: I studied the Bible in depth for seven straight years as I was a Biblical and Theological Studies major in college and spent three years in seminary! Recently I discovered that I took twenty seven classes on how to study and interpret the Bible. I took nine classes on Greek and Hebrew alone. I spent a semester in Israel, literally walking the settings of the Bible. And yet every time I read the Bible, I learn something new. God speaks to me, challenges me and strengthens me yet again!

God’s word can do the same thing or you, if you crack it open and give it a try!

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Pastor Paul Hoffman