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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How To Read The Whole Bible

                              Mark My Word

       For many of us reading the Bible from cover to cover is almost as challenging as climbing Mt. Everest.  It took me many attempts to figure out how to do it.  When I finally did succeed it was because I finally learned to read the Bible literally.  By that I mean take what it says literally.  It says what it means and means what it says.  Getting over that hurdle took looking at the challenge from a new way.  It took a completely new perspective of why and how to go about the task. 

     Jesus said to them,” I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” How do you eat bread?  Certainly not the whole loaf at once, but one bite at a time.  Jesus did not sit his disciples down and teach them the whole Bible in one sitting.  He broke it into bite size pieces and gave them a little here and a little there.  Then he gave them examples so they could understand what he was saying. Suddenly I realized I needed to find a way to break the Bible into manageable bite sized pieces.

       The big question I really needed to answer was why did I want to read the Bible from cover to cover? Just so I could say I had done it.  So I would be a complete Christian.  So I would know what God expected of me.  None of those were the reason I wanted to read the Bible.  I wanted to “Know God.”  I wanted to do it through a relationship with His Son Jesus Christ.  Once I understood that simple point things got easier.  I just needed pray about the matter.  Why did I need to pray about it?  That is what Jesus did when he faced a situation.  So that must be a key to the problem.

     When I came to that revelation I happened to be reading in the book of James.  In the fourth chapter it makes clear. ”You have not, because you ask not.” The last verse of that chapter convinced me I might be onto something.  I took the matter to the Lord in prayer.  I told him I knew I needed to know His Word, but how could I do that.  I admitted my failure.  It was shortly later I found part of the answer in Jeremiah.  It says, “Mark my word.”  I took that literally and started marking every verse in my Bible that I thought was important. 

       Once I got over the hurdle of “Marking His Word.”  I still had a problem.  How could I recall all those verses or make a reference to find them quickly?  I started using the blank pages in the front and back of the Bible to put down the chapter and verse with a few words to help me recall the verse.  Here is one thing that I will offer as advice that I did not do.  I just started writing in whatever order I found the verse. There was no order.  I had Old and New Testament all tossed together.  Many verses were written down several times.  It may help a person to put the Old Testament info in the front and the New Testament info in the back.  I finally started using light colored paper like kids use for crafts in school.  I folded them in half and they fit neatly in the front and back of my Bible. That helped some as I did not have to flip constantly back and forth.

                       Jeremiah 23:17-22  Especially verse 18

      Even with all this I was still having problems making it work.  I had just gone through a Jonah time in my life and one of the resolutions I made was to tithe my time to the Lord as I did not have a job.  That meant spending two and one half hours a day studying the Bible.  It was easy to do when I did not have a job.  It got much harder when I got a job.  I kept it up for a few years and then I started just tithing money.  In retrospect I think I acquired and grew much more when I was spending time with the Lord.  Slowly, as I am now retired, I am trying to transition my life back to the way it was.

       One of those things I did back then was trying to help others grow in their understanding of the Lord.  I used to make book markers and give them to people.  That is how I finally read the whole Bible.  I made a marker that marked six places in the Bible.  One marker was for each day of the week. They were held together with a little plastic cross. You could use a bead, or any little thing that has a hole in it for the ribbons. You also need one little bead. Sundays I would read wherever I felt moved to read or use the marker that was part of the Bible. The other days of the week I read at any marker I wanted to.  When one marker came to the end of the Bible I moved it back to the front.  When a marker caught up with another marker I moved the one that caught up back to the start.  I left the one in place and it kept moving till it caught up or came to the end.  Eventually they will all come to the end and start over.

      I basically broke the Bible into three parts. The first two went in the front.  One was at Genesis.  The second was at the book of Judges.  The next two covered from Ezra and the second one was at Isaiah.  The third set went in the New Testament. One marker was at Matthew and one was at Timothy.  You can put them anywhere you want.  Basically my way of dividing the Bible goes like this.  I only have six markers and eight parts so I already have a problem.  I could add one more ribbon which would solve the problem.  In fact I have or plan to make some with multiple ribbons.  You can make one with a ribbon for each member of the family in their favorite colors.  They can also be used for marking favorite verses or ones you use to witness.

      The ones I make and share with others are almost all Red, Yellow and Blue.
I look at the red and think of the Blood of Christ.  The Yellow is for the Glory of God and His Wisdom and finally the Blue represents the cleaning water of Baptism.  Those colors remind me of those things.  You can use any colors you want when you make yours.
1. The Pentateuch or the Books of Moses. I usually put Joshua in this part also

2. The Historical Books which run from Judges to Esther

3. The Books of Wisdom from Job to the Song of Solomon

4. The Major Prophets Isaiah to Daniel

5. The Minor Prophets from Hosea to Malachi

6.  The Apostles Matthew to Acts

7.  The Books of Paul Romans to Hebrews

8.  The Books of the Apostles Messages of James to Revelation

    There is no importance to any of the sections I broke the Bible into.  I am using it to keep my notes a little neater and to make it easier to find certain verses instead of putting them all together and having a hard time finding anything.

     When I started seriously studying the Bible I based it upon a pretty simple plan.  It worked for and helped me.  My first priority was everything in Red or that Christ said.  Then I based it on their closeness to Christ.   James was his brother so he should have some pretty good insight.  Then I did the Apostles Books and what they said.  That was followed by Paul and finally the Old Testament.  It is all important and Jesus quoted from many books.  From my point of view he validated many of the Books of the Old Testament, especially those parts and prophets that were talking about him.  It does not matter how you do it, but the main thing and I believe this.  The better you know God’s Word the better you will know him and what he expects of you.  Here are a few verses to get you started.

1 John 2:27
 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him

Christ will teach you if you earnestly seek him.

Jeremiah 17:5
Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.

When you have to make a choice of who to trust, rely on the Word, not man.

John 1:1-3
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

You should be able to see that knowing God’s Word is how you come to know God.

Hosea 4:6
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

Notice it says “MY PEOPLE” it does not say the heathens, the lost or the evil.  It says his people are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge.

II Chronicles 16:9
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.

This verse makes clear the Lord seeks to bless those that seek him.  If you are not seeking him you are losing a blessing

Joshua 1:8
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success

So how do you have success?  By studying His Word and knowing it.  Who has to apply it and do the work though?  It makes pretty clear you have to do the work.

Here is one final passage and it has helped me all of my life.  Sometimes we are not sure what or how to do something.  This next verse tells us how.

 Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

This last verse is strong and will help you a lot in your walk with the Lord.  Actually the whole first three chapters of Proverbs will help a person in understanding what God wants and expects from us.  I pray this helps someone in their search for God in their lives.

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