The Transforming Word

For nearly the past two years, Crossroads has been journeying through the Gospel of Luke on Sunday mornings.  Our study together has revealed powerful truth about the life, ministry, and mission of Jesus.  While this has been the longest teaching series I have ever prepared (some may be hoping all future teachings will be much shorter!), I believe the discipline of working through a book of the Bible has its rich rewards.  Here are a few of the benefits that come to mind:

1)   Reading/studying an entire book of the Bible allows us to interpret Scripture in context.  I have stated many times, "If you take a text out of context, you are left with acon."  If you really want to understand the Bible more thoroughly, read lengthy passages instead of just picking a verse here and there.  

2) Reading/studying an entire book of the Bible helps us recognize important theological themes that will fuel spiritual growth.  For example, in our journey through the Gospel of Luke, we encountered many important themes, including: the connection between prayer, the Holy Spirit and empowerment for mission work; the topic of God's Kingdom in the preaching of Jesus; God's heart for the poor and oppressed; and, the theme of discipleship (what it really means to follow in the footsteps of Jesus).

3) Reading/studying an entire book of the Bible helps cultivate the spiritual discipline of daily study of God's Word.  
Reading the Bible each day is an important ingredient of ongoing personal spiritual growth and maturity.  Consistent Bible reading is easier with some type of reading plan, and systematically reading though entire books of the Bible is a good way to stay on track and alleviate the "What shall I read today?" question. 

4) Reading/studying an entire book of the Bible helps us focus and fight against distraction.  Let's face it, there is no shortage of Bible study books, devotionals, and Christian books to help people grow in the faith.  However, there is no substitute for God's Word.  With the myriad of reading choices available, we need some way to focus in on the most important book--God's Word-- and establish solid priorities for our limited amount of daily reading time. Here are a few suggestions to help you along the way:

1) Make a commitment to read the Bible before you read any other book each day.

2) Select a book of the Bible and then prayerfully ask God to give you wisdom as you read through the passages.

3) As you read longer passages, stop on a word, phrase, or concept that seems to "jump off the page" and speak directly to your heart.  Meditate for a few minutes on the truth that is being communicated to you.  

*Remember, daily personal time in the Lord's presence through the reading of the Bible is more about transformation than information.  Sure, gathering new information from Scripture is a good thing, but this information should not just be considered simply for intellectual purposes.  Reading, meditation, and prayer combine together to bring about life transformation:

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?  By living according to your word.  I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.  (Psalm 119:9-11)   

If you need a suggestion for a book of the Bible to begin reading, try Acts.  We will be starting 2014 with a teaching series through Luke's other New Testament writing and if you start reading now, you'll have a head start when we begin the series Acts: Seeing the Spirit at Work in January.


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