My granddaughter, Fern, recently joined her mom and Grandma for a celebration at a gourmet cupcake shop. As I thumbed through Grandma’s pictures I saw genuine cupcake zeal on that two-year-old face. And I recognized it as the zeal that should mark our attitude toward the Bible and the hard but necessary work of studying those precious pages. This zeal should be evident in every believer including the student, the group leader, the teacher, the pastor, the evangelist, and certainly the curious seeker roaming today’s religious landscape in search of truth.
Note Fern’s up-on-her-tippy-toes excitement as she examines her choices. The cupcake display overloaded her senses with possibility as she moved to and fro among the bounty. Which flavor to choose?
An oft-asked question is, “Which version of the Bible should I read?” Sadly, for some church groups, the answer to that question is a test of a person’s worthiness to join the fellowship.
I believe the correct version is the one you will actually read. I attend a church where the pastor preaches from the ESV and the pew Bibles match. I carry my NASB, my wife has her NIV, and we follow along with no problems. In our devotions we are reading the Psalms from the NLT. I also love the Amplified Bible, and I have a weighty comparative Bible with four versions presented in parallel. My well-loved computer app, e-Sword, gives access to many versions of Scripture for quick comparisons. Changing versions from time to time can breathe in a fresh perspective. The Bible does us no good as a dust-collector, flower press, or family picture archive. Open the Book and read it.
Have we run out of possibilities in Bible study options? Are we in danger of exhausting God’s Word? Have all the studies and permutations been covered, and can we now don our Bible Expert badges and move on? Or is there more to learn? Would a study of the Minor Prophets raise excitement in our hearts as those cupcakes did for Fern?
The Bible will never be exhausted. We simply need to start our study. And the place we start is not nearly as important as the start itself. God will direct and speak through His Word no matter the chapter and verse.
Fern surveyed her chosen cupcake while deciding on her strategy for attack. She carefully turned that delicacy round and round marveling at the glossy icing and the paper stuck between her and the cake.
Have we lost our wonder and our marvel over God’s Word? It is easy to do in a sound-bite, 30-second video world especially when most Bibles don’t offer pictures. Consider these facts:
- The Bible was written over a 1500 year span.
- The forty authors included kings, a military general, a doctor, a tax collector, a rabbi, and several fishermen.
- The Bible was written on three continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe) and portions were written in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek).
- The Bible is published in more languages than any other book and remains the world’s best-selling book.
A key question is, “In my typical seven day week how many times do I read Scripture on my own?”
Fern’s done her prep work and completed her analysis. All that remains for her is to dig in.
This is the point where many well-intentioned Bible studies jump the rails. Perhaps our work or family responsibilities increased as soon as we committed to the study? Or we attend a few sessions, fell behind and lost interest?
And do we as leaders of those Bible studies view the opportunity as a privilege? Are we studied up, prepared, using the talents and resources God has provided? Or do we lose heart at low attendance and wing it while thinking it really doesn’t matter.
I cannot feed others what I am not cooking for myself. Teach from a heart overflowing from time alone with God in prayer, Bible meditation, and study. Do this work as for the Lord whether the group is mostly empty seats or standing room only.
Yes, we are going to get messy. Bible study generates questions hard to answer. We will find topics we cannot run to definitive conclusions. We will discover passages that give rise to disagreement in the group. But every trip through a familiar passage can yield new insight, new life-changing lessons. Our best choice is to lick our fingers and savor each experience.
Bible study does us no good if the purpose is to fill up our brains with facts. Pay attention. Contemplate the truth of what we just learned and use it. Share it. Live it. Make personal changes as needed. Always keep the prayer line open with God and ask Him to show how the text applies to my life, my heart and my thought patterns. Follow God’s leading.
Thank you, Fern, for sharing a valuable lesson with us.
Note: Check out the new site, BibleBuildingBlocks, for helpful quotes, character studies, insightful articles, and Bible quizzes. New material is added to this Bible Study resource often.