Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How to read the Bible

I love reading through the Bible once a year. For me it's a great discipline to keep me from only visiting those bits that I like or feel I need to read for some specific reason or other. The problem with reading through the Bible is a year is that it can easily become an exercise in simply getting through the material rather than properly engaging with it and feeding on it.

I was going to twitter Martin Luther's comments on reading the Bible but I thought it would be difficult to understand them without some small explanation:

First I shake the whole Apple tree, that the ripest might fall. Then I climb the tree and shake each limb, and then each branch and then each twig, and then I look under each leaf.
It would be nice to not only have all the hours in the day to read and meditate on God's word but also the energy and discipline of heart to do so. But it still stands as an encouragement to me to work through each passage I am reading and ask the important questions:

  • Who is this speaking to?
  • What would they have understood by it?
  • How does this relate to Jesus?
  • How does it relate to me through Jesus?

And then some of the older questions that divines used to ask:

  • Is there a promise here for me to claim?
  • Is there a command here for me to obey?
  • Is there a warning here for me to heed?
  • Is there a truth here for me to rejoice in?

There are no end of blogs, articles, tweets, papers, books and collected works to wade through but you know... the Bible is better than all of them.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Praying for a right walk

It's been a while since I've quoted anything from "The Valley of Vision" so I though some of you might find this prayer helpful. As always there is a very honest confession before God of our failures but also a wonderful dependence on God for help and forgiveness. Notice in the first paragraph how he rejoices because no accusation will finally stand because it has all been laid on Christ.

Holy Lord, I have sinned times without number, and been guilty of pride and unbelief, of failure to find Thy mind in Thy Word, of neglect to seek Thee in my daily life. My transgressions and short-comings present me with a list of accusations, but I bless Thee that they will not stand against me, for all have been laid on Christ. Go on to subdue my corruptions, and grant me grace to live above them. Let not the passions of the flesh nor lustings of the mind bring my spirit into subjection, but do Thou rule over me in liberty and power.
I thank Thee that many of my prayers have been refused. I have asked amiss and do not have, I have prayed from lusts and been rejected, I have longed for Egypt and been given a wilderness. Go on with Thy patient work, answering 'no' to my wrongful prayers, and fitting me to accept it. Purge me from every false desire, every base aspiration, everything contrary to Thy rule. I thank Thee for Thy wisdom and Thy love, for all the acts of discipline to which I am subject, for sometimes putting me into the furnace to refine my gold and remove my dross.
No trial is so hard to bear as a sense of sin. If Thou shouldst give me choice to live in pleasure and keep my sins, or to have them burnt away with trial, give me sanctified affliction. Deliver me from every evil habit, every accretion of former sins, everything that dims the brightness of Thy grace in me, everything that prevents me taking delight in Thee. Then I shall bless Thee, God of jeshurun, for helping me to be upright.
Note: Jeshurun is a poetical name for Israel; it has a sense of God's people walking in a right way.