Tag Archives: understanding Scripture

Are You Taking Notes?

Deuteronomy 17

In Good News Club yesterday, one of the third graders got out his notebook and began to take notes. One of the volunteers, not knowing what he was doing, asked him to put it away. He obeyed.

Later, he let me look at what he’d written. He’d copied the memory verse, our five rules, our “Word Up” which was: God Can Change Me. He jotted down things from the lesson like, “All have sinned,” “Not everyone goes to heaven,” “Jesus died for our sins,” and John 3:16. He did such a good job!

One of the commands God gave the kings of Israel was to copy His law in their own hand. Then they were to keep their copy and read it every day.

This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way…” (17:20)

Moses also said that in writing and reading the Law, the king would learn to fear God and learn to obey the instructions.

Here’s a thought: if you are one who says you have trouble understanding Scripture, or have trouble concentrating on what you’re reading, get a notebook and a pen and begin to copy a portion of Scripture in your own hand.

Maybe copy the book of John. Or some psalms. Or copy James or one of Paul’s letters. You might be surprised at how that simple act can help your understanding, and retention of God’s Word.

It was commanded of Old Testament kings. It might be useful for God’s servants in 2022.

But even if it doesn’t help – it certainly can’t hurt!

(Psalm 119:97-104) The Master Teacher

I know there are Christians who depend heavily on Bible study curriculum to help them understand as they read God’s Word. I myself appreciate reading the opinions of Bible scholars like Matthew Henry, Warren Wiersbe, John MacArthur, and others. I actually teach a Bible Study using one such curriculum. But I stand behind my conviction that the best use of our time in God’s Word is reading God’s Word.

Referring to Bible helps occasionally and as a supplement is one thing. But substituting a Bible study guide for Scripture is another thing. The book of Job tells us we won’t find God’s wisdom from each other. Finding God’s wisdom requires searching Scripture for ourselves, digging into God’s Word one verse at a time. It requires you and I to get in there and do the work ourselves.

If you read this part of Psalm 119, you’ll hear what God inspired the psalmist to write. Verse 97 sets the stage. He expresses his love for God’s instruction. In fact, he says he meditates on it all day long.

The psalmist tells God he realizes he has more insight into and understanding of the things of the Lord than do the teachers and elders, and has learned to obey God because “you yourself have instructed me.” That is awesome! Can you have better insight into God’s Word than your pastor? Can you understand God’s Word better than your Sunday School teacher or favorite author? The psalmist seems to be indicating it’s possible if God Himself is your instructor.

So who is instructing you? I hope it’s not just me. I hope it isn’t only your pastor or the Daily Bread. I hope and pray that you spend some quiet time with your Bible open in front of you and ask God to be your teacher. I hope you’ll read the Old Testament and the New, slowly, prayerfully, expecting God to give you understanding.

You may think you “can’t” understand Scripture. Let God prove you wrong. He is the Master Teacher!

(I Samuel 3-7) What Do You Know?

So many questions seem to arise from the Old Testament account of God’s history with Israel. Just in these few chapters in Judges people have asked:

“Who or what toppled the Dagon idol?”

“What kinds of tumors were there, and what caused them?”

“Why would God kill people simply for being curious?”

“How could an entire army of trained soldiers be that afraid of a thunder storm?”

People who think they have to understand everything written in Scripture are foolish. But so is the person who reads Scripture and never tries to understand. It’s one thing to have faith. It’s another to be satisfied with blind faith.

What if you were asked the questions cited above? What if someone who is seeking the truth came to you for answers? What do you know about falling idols, tumors, thunderstorms, and the ark?

What do you know about God? Simply saying you believe is not enough. You need to know what you believe… and why you believe it.

I started telling you how I would answer the questions I shared at the beginning of this post. But I feel God is challenging you to do your own investigation. Just let me encourage you to let Him speak to you through His own words, not the words of a blogger like me, or a study guide, or the internet, unless they point you to specific verses in the Bible that back up what they say. Be careful to not accept opinion as fact. The answers, everything you need to know has been given you by God Himself. I would encourage you to start – and end – in the pages of Scripture to find the answers you are looking for.

So let me ask you again, what do you know? Can you share it with someone who needs to know? I believe God would have us all be ready to give an answer for the hope we have in Him. I believe we need to be ready to share what we know to be true, according to Scripture.

July 13; Blind and Numb

Isaiah 29-32

Who would intentionally blind themselves? Who chooses to live life in a stupor? Yet God says in 29:9:

Be stunned and amazed, blind yourselves and be sightless; be drunk, but not from wine; stagger, but not from beer.”

Now, before you suggest we all take needles to our eyes and have a lobotomy, let me remind us God is warning His people about the consequences that are coming their way because of sin. Then He says, “Go ahead. Put your head in the sand if you want. Numb yourselves against the Truth if that’s how you want to handle it.”

In verse 11 He goes on to say they are taking His warnings like nothing more than words on a scroll. They give the scroll to someone, but the recipient can’t open the scroll. They hand the scroll to someone else, but that person can’t even read.

“Well,” the people of God say, “We tried to warn them.”

These people come near to me with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (29:13)

First of all, are you aware of the Truth of Scripture, or have you blinded yourself and numbed yourself to the warnings? If that’s the case, stop right here and get out your Bible. You have the Truth at your fingertips. Ingest it.

Secondly, if you know the Truth, how are you sharing it? Or are you? Do you think everybody should just “know” what God says simply by watching your lifestyle? Do you expect people to understand God when they are ignorant of who He even is? I hope you aren’t just throwing a verse or two their way and expecting them to get it. People without the Truth have blinded themselves. They are numb toward anything from God. How are you reaching them?

And lastly, where is your heart in relationship to God’s? That may be the most important question of all.

As you read these chapters today, let me encourage you to allow God to speak to you as though you were one of those ancient Jews. Be Ariel. Be Jacob. Be those obstinate children and hear God’s warnings – and His promises!

He wants to talk to you today about your heart’s condition, about your knowledge of His Truth, and about your witness as one entrusted with this precious gift. Hear Him.

Or are you going to blind yourself and numb yourself toward His Words?

It’s Understandable

Paul said something in I Corinthians 4 that struck me today. He had been talking about being a servant of Christ, faithful. He said it didn’t matter to him if people judged him. He didn’t judge himself. “He who judges me is the Lord.” So like him – or not, agree with him or not. It’s God’s praise he wanted.

Then he said he wants us to learn something from his example: “… not to think beyond what is written…”

I want to be careful not to take these words out of context. But Paul goes on to say opinions are divisive. What you and I think is irrelevant in light of God’s truth. What does Scripture say?

What does it say?

In the context of this letter to the Corinthians, Paul is saying he really didn’t care what they thought about his teaching. He only cared about being a servant of the One who inspired Scripture, and being faithful to the written Word.

Is Paul really saying to take Scripture at face value? I think so. And it’s a theme that God has laid on my heart for a while now. Somewhere along the way we’ve come to believe the Bible is hard to understand, that it takes a theology degree to understand it. So too many Christians limit themselves to reading the New Testament or Psalms. Or they allow their pastors to read the Bible and just tell them what it says.

Paul says you are no different than anyone else, not the farmer, or the nurse, or the college professor with a ton of letters after his name. The understanding of Scripture is given to us by God Himself! But we have to read it. And God will be faithful to give us the understanding he wants us to have when we do.

We are already rich!

I believe that when we ask God to reveal himself through this written Word, he does! Read it expecting to get it. What does it say? That’s what it means.

God inspired every word written there. So it must all be important, relevant, understandable. So read it all!

Then read it again.