A little effort…

Posted: July 4, 2008 in Bible, Faith
Tags: ,

I have several bookshelves in my study, and I could probably use another one as many books are stacked on top of others and spread about in varying places.  One entire shelf is where I keep my Bibles. And yes I have several of them. I have varying translations, study bibles, hard cover, paper back but numerous Bibles.  I have always told myself that I need them all for my studies, and that rational is true.  And I know that there are plenty of Christians around the world today that don’t even have a Bible because of persecution.  But that is not what I am here to talk about this morning.  What I want to talk about is how we use those Bibles.

Several months ago I came across a version of the Bible that seemed to fit me very well as a note taker. It was a wide margin Bible with plenty of note taking space on each page.  As someone who writes everything down so that they can remember it became a very good match for me.  But there is another thing that I love about this Bible.  It is just a Bible.

Now at the back there are maps, and a short concordance.  But the text is all there is.  There is no scriptural reference notes in the margin, or in the center of the page. There is no application at the bottom, or commentary here and there on each of the pages. It is the text, plain and simple.  Now stay with me this is not a commercial for a wide margin, note takers Bible!

Have you ever put a car together from scratch?  Probably not, as I have not either.  But I drive a car every day.  When something goes, wrong or I need to know something about that car, I take it to someone who knows not only how to put them together but take them apart and then put them back together. But everyday I still drive the car and use it.  Now here is my question do we treat our Bibles like our cars?

I have several Bibles on my shelf as I would say many of the members of the church in America do as well.  But do we treat them like our cars, and don’t spend much time digging in to them.  If we run into a question we quickly look down to the bottom of the page and take someone else’s answer as the answer.  Or we quickly call a Sunday School teacher or a pastor for the answer, as we do with our cars.  When we do that we are missing out on something. Sometimes the true value of an answer is the process in getting that answer!

Going back to the Bible that I have taken as my own.  I recently was struggling with putting the life of Paul in a chronological order. Would seem like a simple task, pick up a book and put it all together.  But I also wanted to know how that fit into the context of Acts, and all his epistles and the end of his life.  Little bit of trivia, the Bible doesn’t record the end of his life.  He is still alive at the end of Acts and doesn’t die for about another six years after the end of the book.  So fill in the gaps.

What is the chronology of his life, where did he go when, where was he when he wrote this epistle, when he speaks of going places in Galatians where does that fit in to the story and order of Acts.  Things like this my mind wanted to know. And I know that my wife would say that makes me nuts, and probably many of my friedns would agree. I can accept that. 

Because here is my point.  In seeking those answers I went over books outside of the Bible, jumped through the scriptures putting it together and taking it apart.  And when it was done, I knew not only the answer to my questions but had a deeper understanding of my Bible.  To often today we want the easy answer, the quick solution.  And we have allowed that to apply to our Bible Study.  By allowing someone else to do all the work and study for us and have those results at our finger tips we are giving up a great privelege to dig into God’s word and learn how it works in our lives, and learn more of His great plan and who He is.

Now I can hear the words of my friends. You have degrees in ministry. You have books that we don’t have.  You know this or that.  And to some extent I give that point. Not everyone learend Greek and Hebrew in college.  But the books that sit on my shelf are not priveleged books only given to those who go to school to study theology.  They are available to everyone. You can walk into Lifeway Christian Bookstores, Barnes-n-Nobles, or Borders the same way that I can and pick up these books. You can go online and order them the same way that I do. 

All these things. Different translations of Bibles, study bibles, wide margin note taking bibles, applications, commentaries, concordances, maps these are all things that are meant to be tools. And we have begun to use them as crutches.  Crutches that give us the oppurtunity for easy answers.  And one hard answer can teach you more than a hundred easy answers. 

Here is my challenge. Whatever Bible you use, whatever your study method. Just study. Ask the questions and find the answers with the help of the Spirit. 

Last night when I was looking over the notes of my research into the chronology of Paul’s life and sorted through the stacks of my books on my desk I saw it come together. The spirit showed me that last missing piece, and reminded me of something and then there it was. Unfolding in front of my eyes the answer to my question. Paul’s life in the context of what we have recorded in scripture. I was ecstatic. I was walking around the house just smiling, and all excited and mumbling to myself amazed at how it came together. A joy only to be found by those who going searching!

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