Begin with Prayer. “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law”.
We hear a lot about the law today but know little about the entire Mosaic Law – the Ten Commandments and the myriad laws associated with them. We need to broaden our thinking to include all 66 books of the Bible so that you and I can say, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of the Bible”! With that thought in our minds we can look at seven sub guidelines in this series of articles on studying the bible.
There are certain principles each of us must follow to receive the maximum benefit from the Word of God. These can be added to but I will deal with the basics so we can move into the scriptures within the next two or three articles. I believe the ones I have selected for our reading here are primary – the primary seven, that is. I am going to make you a promise – you can write it down – if you follow these guidelines then blessing will come to your heart; blessings such as many men and women never understand. It will be a blessing in your life!
The simplest medicines, such as aspirin and the most basic toys today all come with instructions. A bottle of shampoo has instructions printed on it. Well, I consider it my business to write the instructional draft for the Bible – I feel that I have been called to do this. I do not know if it will ever be the final draft but I believe it is the first draft of its kind.
Let me mention the seven practical ways to learn the Bible – and we will look at each one of them individually, of course.
1. Begin with prayer
2. Read the Bible
3. Study the Bible
4. Meditate on the Bible
5. Read What Other People Write and Listen to What They Say
6. Obey the Bible
7. Pass the Bible On to Other People
~ know it in your head and
stow it your heart ~
~ show it in your life
sow it in the world ~
The Bible is different from all other books. I have tried to emphasize that fact all through our first few studies. You cannot grasp this book with simple mental acumen. You must come to it in humility. That is when you can permit the Spirit of God to teach you. And it is necessary to begin with prayer.
There was a time that I felt I could understand any printed matter that man had crafted. I didn’t care if the field was neurological cosmetics or quantum astrophysics – I believed that if man wrote it – I could understand it. I am confident many men today also have or had that viewpoint. Of course, it is only healthy to realize that we cannot understand all things – someone said, “We’re all ignorant; just about different things”.
That is just not true of the Bible, though; the Bible is different in regards to understanding and the process that enables comprehension of it excludes abilities formulated by man for man’s knowledge. We have already said the Bible is a closed book, therefore, only the Spirit of God can teach us and make us understand – make it real to our hearts.
When we begin our studies we should always begin in prayer. When I sit down to write I begin with prayer. I don’t end with prayer, although maybe I should, but even if I do end with prayer I will always begin with prayer. I recognize that I am helpless without the Spirit of God to guide my thoughts. There is so much I want to say that my brain is like a dam filled to the brim. That water has a lot of power and it takes some divine engineering to control it; otherwise, I might as well write the word blah three and a half million times because these articles are beyond my capacity. Do I mean that? – You bet I do. I have no earthly idea how these make any sense at all except that the Spirit of God opened my eyes one-day and when I was done writing – there it was!
When Sir Walter Scott was dying he said to his secretary, “Bring me the Book”. And his secretary looked at the shelf full of books that Walter Scott had written and wondered which book he could possibly want – he had written them all, after all. So, he finally asked, “Which book”? And Walter Scott is said to have replied, “The Bible. There’s only one book for a dying man”. I believe that to be true. It’s the book for all men, living and dying and otherwise – and it’s a living book. I’m afraid that not too many get interested in the Bible until they are incapacitated, upon their deathbed or in some terrible difficulty. It is wonderful to be able to pull down a book like this at a time like that; and it is wonderful to see people turn to Him at any point in their life. It is a book that can give you a joyous vigor in everyday, ordinary, prosperous, healthy – life – something special that many do not know. When we get to Hebrews we will see some amazing things regarding this topic of privilege and secret lives of believers and better promises, etc.
This is a book that we can face reality with today. The Bible, with prayer, is the only one that assures your route from this world to the next – to heaven. It is the only book that can cushion the shocks from the bumps in life’s rocky road. It is the only medical technician on the scene of our emergencies. It is the only “how to” book that actually tells you “how to”. It is the only genuine help for the things that are going to happen in life.
Holy, Holy, Holy
Until now, we have not dealt with the phrase “Holy” in these studies of the Bible. The word Bible simply means, “book”. A little town lay in ruins north of Beirut, Lebanon, which was called Byblos. The name Byblos, applied by the Greeks to papyrus, which they imported from Byblos, is the source of the word Bible. Gebal is the biblical name for the city. It is where books were first produced.
That is where the Bible got its name. In that early day, it was called “The Book” – all other books were just “books”. The Bible had the designation “The Book”. Someone, somewhere along the line, and I simply can not trace it down, added with its name “Holy” and we now have the Holy Bible. I believe it is inspired from the first word in the first verse of Genesis to the last word of the last verse of Revelation. Holy is exactly what it is. I think that maybe the name is also inspired.
Psalm 119: 18Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy (Word) law.
Paul, praying for the Ephesians, was praying for spiritual discernment – that these people would come to know the Lord Jesus Christ. It all starts there and it all begins with prayer!
Ephesians 1: 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints [are],
Those riches he refers to are of the glory – it is an inheritance. We typically inherit at some future date in our lives. What Christians will inherit is the truth. It becomes difficult to articulate how wisdom and glory from the Spirit of God are better than physical riches, but suffice it to say that God will never be in debt to you. You will always be in debt to Him! If you truly follow Him you will never be lacking in substance required for your existence.
The prayer that Paul prays is that they might have wisdom in the knowledge of Him; that is, that the Spirit of God would be their teacher in opening His Holy Word to their hearts and lives. I say most sincerely – and very candidly – I trust you will pray for the success of these articles in the hearts and lives of all that read them and that you will write to me at [email protected] with feedback. The religious business is down and dirty today. I welcome donations, too; will it come to you to help guide others through our safari in the jungle of the Holy Word of God? – and that directly from Him! I state that metaphorically and brutally frankly because that’s the way it is!
Pray that the articles I have written have all been answers to the lifetimes of prayers regarding them and their content. Further, please pray that this collection will become special and meaningful in the lives of every earth creature. Wow, that’s a prayer! Paul wanted the Ephesians to know the Word of God and that was his only objective. He only wanted them to be enlightened. He told them the eye hath not seen and the ear hath not heard – therefore you have to be enlightened if you are going to see it and hear it and understand it comprehensively and cohesively.
I know that many people reading the Bible just close it because they feel like it only contains quackery gibberish. Others find in it a great blessing and a comforting word. What’s the difference? – Well, the difference isn’t the text because it’s all the same. The supernatural thing is – it’s both a lucid and peaceful comfort and it is also quackery gibberish – the difference is prayer. To the man that says it is foolishness – it is.
1 Corinthians 1: 18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us which are saved – it is the power of God.
One person hears one thing and another person hears something entirely and altogether different. The Spirit of God is the one that does the teaching – that is the difference. That’s why you should always, before you begin a study of the Word of God, pray that the Father will send the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation to open your eyes and make you see; and to open your ears so that you might hear. The only way to ask that of Him is in a prayer.
God has heard us; and he will hear us again and again and again and again. He’s waiting for you right now! He wants to hear an invitation from you and then He will indwell your heart. That is a promise – The Holy Promise – from God to you. Remember, a voice out of Heaven said, “This is my beloved Son”. Those that were standing around – although some heard Him – most people probably said it was thunder, that it was a natural weather occurrence! But others heard the Spirit of God speaking of the Son of God. May I say, prayer makes all the difference in the world today.
God wanted to communicate to us and so He gave us this beautiful book. It will speak your language and meet your needs. It will speak directly to your heart as no other book possibly can. Have you read the best seller on the New York Times list this week? – It can do nothing in comparison to the enlightenment you can receive from prayer and study of the Holy Bible. Whether that best seller is a fiction, non-fiction or educational type book, you will learn absolutely but a fraction of what one proper study of the Bible – prayer first – can do. If it is entertainment you seek, the thought provoking stories from the Bible have still not been matched by human authors. Man’s humanly created stories become strangely pathetic the more you read those from the Holy Bible. Pray that God will make them real to you – He will!
1 Corinthians 2: 12Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit, which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
13Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2: 11For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man, which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
That should make succinct and discernable why the Spirit of God must be our teacher. You see, you and I understand each other, for the most part, but we have zero understanding of God in our own natural capacity. Only the Spirit of God can reveal the things of God to either of us. I always thought the notion of the “generation gap” was perfect nonsense and it seems to have been closed somehow between young and old today, to some extent. The “gap” has little to do with youngsters and old-timers in a contemporary culture. It all has to do with a wholesale abandonment of the Word of God. There is no reason we can’t understand each other – we shut each other out and say we can’t understand each other because we want to do it our own way. Even the young man that says he can’t communicate with his parents knows what they are about – he just doesn’t like it! The point is that man can communicate with man and there is no denying that.
But, quite frankly, I do not understand God – unless it is revealed to me. I don’t know how God feels, for example. Jesus went to several funerals, He always broke up a funeral, by the way; but at the funeral of Lazarus the Bible says He wept. I do know how he feels about some things, but only because the Spirit of God has revealed them to me. If you understand, it’s because He reveals them to you, too.
1 Corinthians 2: 11For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man, which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
A certain French skeptic made an attack on the Word of God. I’ll not mention the name of the man. Prior to becoming a skeptic he wrote a book on the life of Christ. That book is divided into two sections: first is the historical section and in the second he has made an interpretation of the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. As far as the first part is concerned, I feel it is still the most brilliant writing that can be found outside of the Bible on the life of Christ. However, his interpretation of Christ is positively absurd. My opinion is that a twelve-year-old Sunday school kid could have done better with a crayon. What’s the explanation for that? – Well, the Spirit of God doesn’t need to teach you history or waste time stating facts that you can dig up for yourself. A clever mind can find any historical fact it needs – trust me. That’s exactly what this man had done. The interpretation is something altogether different. The Spirit of God must do the interpreting or the interpreting will not be done. He, alone, must be the teacher that guides us into all truth and knowledge. The Spirit of God must open our eyes if we are to see Him.
The great artist Holman Hunt, who was a Christian, had – at one time – a one-man art show. One of his best paintings was an abstract of a sunset. It was a brilliant and beautiful picture. Well, one day as he was in the south a lady came by that was a real country bumpkin. As she looked it over she couldn’t understand why anyone would want to paint that way. So, she said sarcastically, “Whoever saw a sunset like that”? To which Hunt replied, “Lady, don’t you wish you could see a sunset like that”?
Many people are just like that today. They look at the Word of God and they may even read the Bible but all they see is so much black and white. They don’t wonder at the magnificent colors and the brilliant mixing thereof. They wonder how anyone could possibly be interested in it. The Spirit of God will have to show them to you.
I had to buy a new Bible the other day and I went to a large and modern bookstore. The very young girl at the counter rolled her eyes when she saw what I was buying. You see, this is a closed book to that kind of attitude. In this case, it was shrink-wrapped, boxed and bagged type closed to that girl. Only because of her unbelief, though.
Many people –members of my own church won’t waste their time coming to Bible study on a Sunday night because they need to rest up so they can stay up late on Monday night to watch football! They won’t come on Wednesday night because there is always that mid week happy hour. Nope, not for Bible study do they have any time at all. I should mention that hours worth of Religion-ish emails float each day around, though. Plenty of time for that?
Only the Spirit of God can reveal the wonders contained in the Bible to you. I take the position that the Bible is the real test of a believer in regards to their attitude and relationship with it. This is very important and should be taken into consideration.
John 16: 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
13Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
14He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
16A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.
There are many things that God wants to reveal and say to us. He wants us to ask Him to do so. When we ask, He will send the Holy Spirit to our hearts. Why don’t you ask Him to come into your heart right now? Just one or two more studies and we will be in the first book – Genesis. If you are going to learn anything it will not be a result of my having written these articles; it won’t be because of any compelling research or theory we come up with. It will only make sense when you allow the Spirit of God to indwell your heart.
John 14: 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.