Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What's the Best Way to Study the Bible?

"I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

What's the best way to study my Bible so that I can get the most out of my time with Jesus?  

Here are some suggestions that will help you "remain" with Jesus each day.  These have proven to be very helpful for me through the years.

…decide on a time and a time frame.  Schedule this on your calendar as an appointment with God each day.  Don’t let anything interrupt it.  Take the phone off the hook.  Turn the TV and radio off.  Set a reasonable time, perhaps 15 minutes / day to start. 

…decide on a place.  I chose a comfortable couch with a good reading light that is my place to go every day.  Next to it I have my "tools" - my Bible, pen, journal, devotional book and reading plan.

…decide on a general structure. This is like your agenda for your meeting with God.  Read one or two chapters straight through at one sitting.  The following elements will help you with your structure.

…choose a good Bible.  Use a good translation like the NKJV, HCSB, ESV or NIV.  Make use of any commentary notes your Bible may offer or The People’s Bible Commentary available in our Library.

…choose a Bible reading plan.  This may take some time, but choosing a Bible reading plan or study guide will aid you in having a more focused time of study.  I am currently using Youversion where I have set up a free account on my laptop and smart phone.  Start with a book about Jesus’ life, like Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.  Then move to a book like Acts or Romans, etc.  After you have finished those books, then move to an Old Testament book like Psalms, then Genesis.  Then alternate reading a book of the New Testament with a book of the Old Testament.

…spend some time in prayer. Prayer is worship time between you and God. It is time for asking and thanking Him. God speaks to us through His Word.  We speak to God through our prayers.  Spend some time meditating on what you read in His Word. Let God’s Word saturate your prayers.

…consider listening to Christian music. Spend time listening to uplifting Christian songs that will help you stay focused on Him throughout the day.

…consider writing in a journal. Many Christians find that “journaling” helps them stay on track during their devotional time. You can journal your thoughts and prayers, providing a valuable record. Later you will be amazed and encouraged when you go back and note the progress you’ve made or see the evidence of answered prayers. Journaling is not for everyone. I suggest you give it a try and see if it’s right for you.

…commit to your daily time with God.  Keep at it for 21 days (how long it takes to form a habit).  Be determined in your heart to keep it up, even when you fail or miss a day.  Rather than beating yourself up when you mess up, just pray and ask God to help you.  The rewards you will experience as you grow deeper in love with God will definitely be worth it!  If you get stuck in a rut, consider changing it up.  Perhaps the plan you’ve chosen is not right for you.  Be flexible!

Please share with us your ideas.  God's blessings to you as you strive to make your time with Jesus a priority.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Secret to a Growing Church

The Importance of Your Personal Invitation

Jesus had an individual and a crowd-based approach to evangelism. So did the apostles. So did the early church. So did the Reformers. So did individuals such as Charles Wesley, D. L. Moody and Billy Graham.

            If the church has a “front door,” and it clearly does, why shouldn’t it be opened wide and then strategically developed for optimal impact for any and all nones (those people who identify themselves as having no religious affiliation) who may venture inside? I already here you: “But isn’t that your point? They aren’t going to venture inside? So why bother?” … They will venture inside, just not on their own. There is one thing that 82% of all unchurched people can’t seem to resist. It cuts through their defenses and penetrates their barriers. According to surveys at Life Way Research, 82% of them seem to have a single weakness: if a friend, or someone they know, invited them to church. Reread that: 82% of all unchurched people would come to church this weekend if they were invited by a friend.  And if you could get them there, imagine what you could achieve. They could be exposed to the collective energies, gifts, resources, and influence of your church at its best.  (“The Rise of the Nones” by James Emery White  P. 152-153)

Bring someone with you this weekend!