Thursday, January 27, 2011

Memorizing Scripture

I have been thinking a lot about Scripture memorization this week. My mom has been working through a book called 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart (Robert J. Morgan). She's been working on her scripture memorization skills. There was also an article in the new Christianity Today on this very topic. So, I’m curious as to your thoughts on scripture memorization. Some simple questions I would love to have you answer.

Does anyone memorize scripture anymore?

If you do…
How do you memorize scripture?
What are your secrets?
What helps you?
What advice would you offer?

If you don’t…
Why don’t you memorize scripture? Age? Memory?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hearing God

Every once in a while I read a book that captures my attention for about a month or two. Ever come across a book like that? The Shack falls into that category for me. Then, even better, I will read a book that captures my attention for a year or two (maybe even longer?). This has been the case for Dallas Willard’s book Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God. This has been a very meaningful book to me in that it has opened my eyes to just how conversational our God is. It has me expecting clear communication from God. As the title suggests, this book is about hearing from God. Even more, it’s about developing a conversational relationship with God where you speak to Him and He speaks to you. Do you think something like that is possible?

I’ve blogged on this book before here:
Part 1
Part 4

Today I re-visited chapter 2 (Guidelines for Hearing from God). Great chapter! A side note: this whole book would make for some great sermons. In this chapter Dallas lays out 3 guidelines to hearing from God that need to be kept at the forefront of our mind. They kind of help to keep us in check so we don’t end up acting like David Koresh or Jim Jones. Here are the guidelines in a nutshell:

3 Guidelines to Hearing from God

Guideline 1
Hearing from God is intended to draw us into a relationship with Him. This whole hearing from God thing is to be sought as part of a life that is in a relationship with His Son Jesus. This is the whole, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” from Revelation 3:20. It’s about fellowship with Jesus. Real fellowship involves conversation. If you enter into a relationship with Jesus you will hear Him speak to you. Think about that.

Guideline 2
Hearing from God in ways that individuals in the Old Testament and New Testament did is possible in our lives. We must have faith that God can and still does speak to us in similar ways. Willard encourages us to, “pray for faith and the experiences that would enable us to believe that such things could happen to us.”

Guideline 3
Hearing from God doesn’t automatically make us right with Him or right. Just because God speaks to us it doesn’t mean we are special. There is a certain amount of humility involved in our relationship with God. Also, because we have a fallen nature we may misinterpret God’s voice and what it is He’s asking us to do.
What do you think about these guidelines for hearing from God?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Time with God

I have been studying Mark 1:35-39 in anticipation of preaching on it. I got sick the night I was supposed to preach so never had that chance. Now I have a sermon in by back pocket ready to go. So, I thought I would share a bit of what I've been learning in this passage here. Actually this is just a look at verse 35.

Verse 35
The scripture tells us it is very early in the morning, in fact it is still dark out. Jesus wakes up and goes off by Himself to a solitary (lonely) place to pray.

This is at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry that Mark mentions this in his Gospel. Why? I think he wants us to know Jesus’ commitment to time with God and prayer. This is a key characteristic of Jesus – One who spends time with God and who prays. Listen to what these other scriptures say about Jesus:
- Matthew 14:23 – Jesus goes off alone to spend time with God and pray.
- Luke 5:16 – He withdrew often to lonely places to spend time with God and pray.
- Mark 8:6 – Prayer before feeding the 4,000.
- Matthew 26:36 – Spending time with God and praying at Gethsemane.
- John 17 – Prayer for disciples and us.

Time with God and prayer are key components of Jesus’ life. This is why He can speak as if He knows what God the Father is up to because He does. Time with God and prayer are evidence of a relationship.

- If someone were to evaluate your life would you be described as a person who spends time with God and who prays?
- How important is it for you to spend time with God each day?
- How important is prayer to you and to your day?
- Does your family see you spending time with God
- Do they see you as a prayer warrior?
- Do they know that you spend time with God and in prayer?
- Do they come to you and ask you for advice on how to spend time with God and how to pray?

Here’s my advice if you want to become a person who spends time with God and prays: Practice it! Mark off a time during the day or week in your calendar when you will do it (even if it’s only 5 minutes!). Ask someone to hold you accountable to times with God and prayer. Start a time with God and/or prayer journal where you write down your experiences and/or prayers and how God answers them. To not practice it would be like wanting to ride a bike all your life and not ever getting on one.

Any thoughts to add?

Thursday, January 06, 2011

helpful Bible study technique

Here is something I’m planning on really committing to this year.

I’m using the NLT Study Bible to aid me in my read through of the entire Bible. I’m not so much reading the NLT Bible as I am reading their book introductions for each book (then I read the Scripture out of my TNIV). This is a fantastic study Bible (NLTSB) and a secret weapon for me as a preacher and teacher of God’s Word. There is so much good and useful information presented in an easy-to-read format. Pairing this with the easy-to-read translation of the NLT has made for the perfect match. Anyways, I’m taking what I learn from the intros in the NLTSB and rewriting them as a book profile in my TNIV. It’s nothing long, but just a quick snapshot of the basics (who, what, where, when, why) for each book of the Bible.

For example, here is the profile (including an outline) I created for 1 Kings (I write this at the top right corner of my TNIV). This is what it looks like in my Bible (should have put a pic here).

Celebrates Solomon’s reign as king. Also warns of preoccupation with luxury, fame, self, and security. 1 Kings concerned with Israel’s spiritual condition and the covenant they have with the Lord. Date: After 586 BC (1 Kings covers the period of 973 BC to 853 BC).

1-11 Solomon’s reign as King
12-16:4 Early Divided Kingdom
16:3-22 Israel’s 3rd Dynasty

The reason I like creating a profile and outline for each books is that it helps me learn it. I have to create an introduction and outline and put it in my own words and I remember it better. This is making good use of all the information packed into the NLTSB. I’m hoping as I read through the entire Bible this year to make my own introductions for each book and write them down.

Any thoughts on this method?
Do you do anything like this to help you study the Bible?