Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How do you choose? Part II

Through the Bible in 90 Days: Day 58

Read: Jeremiah 48:1-Lamentations 1:22

Verse that stood out:
"See, I am against you, O arrogant one," declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty, "for your day has come, the time for you to be punished" - Jeremiah 50:31

OK, to follow up on yesterday's blog. Most people who believe the Bible is inspired by God believe it is important to read all and even memorize parts of the scripture. Now none of us memorize all the Bible. If we're honest, most of us don't read all the Bible, or at least don't read all of it the same way. Some parts we consider more applicable to our lives than others. I'm going to go out on a limb and say, that's ok. But we should be a little bit suspicious of how we go about deciding what parts we emphasize. Do we only emphasize the parts we like? That certainly doesn't seem to be the best way to go about it. Wisdom tells us that we all need to hear some things about ourselves and about the world that we don't necessarily enjoy hearing. How then do we decide?

One, it's ok to be inspired by a verse and want to commit it to memory. But we should always try to keep those verses in context. Try memorizing a section of verses or, for you favorites, go back and reread the context from time to time. This keeps us from just making the Bible say what we want it to. Try focusing on passages that support the overall themes of the Bible rather than obscure verses that support your own particular view of the world.

Two, Keep things in context by consistently reading through all of the Bible. This is important because it keeps our favorite verses in check with all the other verses of the Bible. And it's important because we never know what part of the Bible the Spirit might use in our life at any given moment. That doesn't mean we have to always read through the Bible straight through like we're doing at Southland right now. There are lots of good reading plans out there that allow you to systematically cover the scriptures in a year, two years, three years by alternately reading a little of the Old Testament and little of the New Testament at the time.

Three, when reading sections of the Bible that don't seem to be that relevant to today's life, attempt to read them from a new perspective. Instead of trying to "bring the Bible forward" try to take yourself "backward." Take the book of Jeremiah for instance. What would it be like to hear his words as a person being carted off to Babylon? As one of the "poor" left in Israel because Babylon didn't think you were worth the effort? As a Babylonian? Sometimes by putting yourself into the text you might discover a new truth that is very relevant to life today.

Finally, remember that the Bible is a big book, not everything in it is meant to be relevant to each and every situation we face. Remember, the Bible wasn't even written with verses in mind. Those were added later to help people find passages easier. The Bible was given to us in books, letters, poems, so that we might immerse ourselves in God's story to the point that it becomes our story. Not just in bits and pieces, but in its grand overarching themes. So that when we face each new day we're able to live it in light of not just one or two of our favorite passages, but in light of the overall history of God's people.

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