I’m a big fan of Costco.  It’s a magical place.  You can get anything there from cheese to car tires, t-shirts to t-balls.  However, they do have one problem.  Their milk containers are terrible.  These containers have an innovative design to maximize their stackability allowing them to  be shipped faster and lowering their price.  That is all well and good. The problem is though that when you go to pour milk out of this container you find that a good portion of that milk hugs the container all the way down to the bottom and spills all over your floor.  While they are innovative in design, they seem to have lost sight that primary purpose of a milk container is that it needs to be able to pour milk.  

As we come into the New Year and think about various resolutions we might want to make, it is vital that we keep the original purpose for our lives in view.  We are told in Romans 8:29, “Those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”   God has given life, so that we might be conformed into the image of Christlikeness. As Jonathan Edwards writes in The End for Which God Created the World, 

As God delights in his own beauty, He must necessarily delight in the creature’s holiness which is a conformity to and participation of it, as truly as [the] brightness of a jewel, held in the sun’s beams, is a participation or derivation of  the sun’s brightness, though immensely less in degree.

The rays of the Sun touch everything on earth, but what they touch makes a big difference to how they look.  If the Sun’s rays touch a lump of coal, nothing special happens.  However, if those same rays hit a brilliant jewel, the light  reflecting through that jewel makes those rays look beautiful.  In the same way, God is infinitely glorious.  There is nothing we can do to make him any more glorious.  But when we reflect his Holy character, we bring pleasure to Him as we reflect the beauty of who He is.  Therefore, His great purpose for our lives is to grow us more and more into reflecting the beauty of His character.  We were made to grow in godliness.

However, this growth is not something that comes naturally to us.  In 1 Timothy 4:7 we are told to “ train yourself for godliness”.  Growth in godliness requires intentional pursuit.  Over the next few weeks, this blog series will seek to help you grow in the pursuit of godliness.

Here is the first New Year’s Resolution worth making:  Increase your Bible intake. The Bible is not merely a book of information about God.  It is a means of being transformed by God.  2 Timothy 3:16 tells us, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”  There is no more valuable spiritual practice than continually growing in our intake of God’s word.  Here’s some steps to grow in your Bible intake.

Plan

 Randomly picking passages, or just doing short devotionals, will not yield the result  as focused study.  Pick a book of the bible and work your way through it verse by verse.  If you don’t know where to start, I’d recommend starting in one of the Gospels.  If you want to read through the Bible in a year, this is the plan that I use https://www.mcheyne.info/calendar.pdf.

Create Habits

Pick a time of day when you will study and be consistent with that time.  We are creatures of habits and so leverage the power of habit.  It takes 21 days for us to establish a habit, so start by committing to 21 of “I’m going to read the Bible from X to Y time.” 

Pray

Studying scripture is not something that we can do by ourselves.  We need to have humility and ask for God’s help to understand what He is saying.

Ask God to:

  • Make your heart whole devotedly to what you read.
  • Open your eyes to see the beauty Jesus as every Scripture is ultimately about him (John 5:39).
  • Use what you read to help you grow in godliness for the glory of God.

Be an active reader

Step #1 Observe

  1. Note key words, repeated words, repeated phrase and trace the general flow of thought.
  2. List 2-3 overarching themes you see in the passage.
  3. List at least two observations per verse. The more the merrier.
  4. Write down questions to think through in the step of interpretation.

Step #2 Interpret

WHO IS…

…the author?

…the audience?

…being discussed?

…accomplishing the action?

WHERE IS…

…the author?

…the audience?

…the action taking place?

WHAT IS THE…

…meaning of this word?

…significance of this phrase?

…implication of this statement?

…overarching theme?

WHY DID THE AUTHOR…

…choose this word?

…include this phrase?

…use this command?

…connect these ideas?

…not say ____?

  1. Consider the context.  What came before this passage?
  2. Look up key words.
  3. Check out cross-references to see how this passage relates to others.
  4. Don’t stop until you have considered how this passage fits into the overarching redemptive plan of God – the gospel. How does this passage relate to the person and work of Christ?

Step #3 Apply

List out a number of potential applications. To get started, here are a few questions to consider:

  • Is there an example for you to follow?
  • Is there a sin to repent of and/or avoid?
  • Is there a promise to trust?
  • Is there a prayer to repeat?
  • Is there a command to obey?
  • Is there a condition to meet?
  • Is there a verse to memorize?
  • Is there an erroneous view exposed?
  • What else is the Lord pressing upon you?

May God bless you as you grow pursuing godliness through increasing your Bible intake this year.

 Pastor Jeff