January 17, 2021

Reading of Scripture (part 2)

In the Bible we encounter many different groups of people, but there is one group which is unique, and very interesting – people who potentially had a sweet tooth: Samson (did not disdain the lion’s corpse to eat honey in it), Jonathan (ate honey during the battle), John the Baptist had very limited diet: locusts and wild honey. And David also knew the taste of honey when he said in Ps. 18:11 and 119:103 –the Word of God is sweeter than honey!

This is a good title for our sermon series because it is clear – everyone has tasted honey, or something sweet. Some say that when a Jewish boy was introduced to the Scripture for the first time, he would be given also a chance to taste the honey for the first time, to link the two together for life!

Last Sunday we looked at the authority and nature of Scripture. In other words, the composition is a very valuable material – the Word of God Himself!

Today, let’s talk about how to feed on the Word! How to read the Bible on your own. Next Sunday, we will look at how to listen to the preaching of God’s Word.

Why? Many of you have begun the new Bible reading plans at the beginning of the year. This is good because every true Christian seeks to commune with God, and it is very helpful to have a certain system or plan in order to grow in knowing God and His will. Any Bible reading plan will be useful to the extent that we can derive spiritual benefits from the reading. To do this, I would like to draw your attention to the obstacles that you will have toward reading, then, we will look at the blessings of reading the Scripture, and most importantly, there will be a practical exercise where we will use 4 specific tools for Bible reading.

I. Obstacles to Scripture Reading

It is important to know and understand what we are fighting against. What will hinder and minimize the effect from the reading? There are many obstacles, but let’s name the most common ones:

  • Wandering heart (v. 10)
  • Forgetfulness (v. 16)
  • Failure to see the beauty of Scripture (v. 18)
  • Pride (v. 21)
  • Conflicts (v. 23)
  • Apathy (v. 25)
  • Sorrows (v. 28)
  • Narrowness of our thinking (v. 32)
  • Selfishness (v. 36)
  • Vanity (v. 37)
  • Comfort (v. 70)
  • Misunderstanding the nature of the Word (v. 140)
  • Unwillingness to get up in the morning (v. 148)

II. Blessings of Scripture Reading

What are the blessings God promises to those who read the Scripture? 

  • Knowledge of God (v. 2) 
  • Victory over sin (v. 9)
  • Delight (v. 14)
  • A renewed life (v. 50)
  • Zealous prayer (v. 58)
  • Overcoming depression (v. 92)
  • Wisdom (v. 98)
  • Guidance (v. 105)
  • Zeal in evangelism (v. 136)
  • Zeal in worship (v. 164)

III. Tools for Scripture Reading

How can we get the most out of Scripture reading? There are many questions that people suggest asking each text, for example: What does the text say? What does the text mean? How do I apply this text? (Observation, Interpretation and Application). For observation, you can ask questions like: who, what, where, when, how and why? For interpretation, one must try to define the genre, time, the author, recipients, context, theology, text structure and more. This will help be more precise in interpreting the text. This is what hermeneutics deals with. These are all very important, and Lord willing, we will have a seminar on this topic. But today, we will look at it practically… How to apply a certain text? I would like to offer you a very doable approach. Four questions that will help you connect the text with your everyday life:

A. What do I learn about God? (God)  humility  praise

B. What do I learn about human sinfulness? (sin)  brokenness  confession/repentance

C. What is this text calling for? (action)  zeal  petition

D. Is there grace here? (grace)  hope  thanksgiving

To visualize this, we will do one exercise: (Ps. 119-97-104)

1) What do I learn about God? (v. 97-104) – God has spoken, and He speaks through the Word (He speaks to a person), (v. 98) – makes people wise, (v. 102) – teaches, (v. 104) – admonishes.

2) What do I learn about human sinfulness?  (v. 101) – evil way or path, (v. 104) – false way, or falsehood and lies… it is interesting that it is the way or the path, and not a gate… something that continues)

3) What is this text calling for? (v. 97) – to love the law, and meditate on it, (vv. 100-101) – to keep the word, (v. 102) – to not turn away from the Word, (v. 104) – to avoid lying.

4) Is there grace here? There is! Look at the interesting pattern – (vv. 97-100) – there are certain blessings because a person makes efforts, but in the middle, he suddenly changes the sequence, because he realizes that even his actions are God’s doing, and His grace (vv. 102, 104)!!!

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