It doesn’t take much time spent on my blog or in my presence to know that I have a passion for the Word of God. I love reading, teaching, sharing, discussing, learning, memorizing … everything to do with The Bible is precious to me. But I have learned that many people are intimidated and uncertain about time in God’s Word … not because they don’t recognize the value of time spent in Scripture but rather they are unsure where or how to begin.
I can totally understand that!! In fact, I’ve been there … done that … could have gotten the t-shirt! So, when the opportunity presented itself to share some thoughts about how and where to start in studying the Word of God, I was thrilled.
Before we get to that, though, I want to share a verse that has been incredibly meaningful to me as I have continued to pursue a deeper knowledge of God through time in Scripture.
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word. ~ Psalm 119:9 NIV
This verse gives me encouragement that, though I may not always WANT to study Scripture, I always NEED to dig into the truths of God’s Word in order to keep myself in right relationship with Him.
Beginning with that understanding of the necessity of time spent reading and studying the Bible, I want to share four purposes of Scripture and how you can begin with any of them as you desire to spend time in the Word.
W ~ Wisdom
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. ~ Proverbs 1:7 NIV
Scripture provides us with wisdom we need for daily life. As a wife and mother, I find myself consistently in need of wisdom … and I continually turn to the Word of God for guidance and direction.
Perhaps you too have a longing for wisdom in your life. If so, I encourage you to begin reading the Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament. I have shared before that I read a chapter of Proverbs every day and I often encourage others to begin that practice as well. Proverbs speaks to many of the common struggles and issues we face in our lives and gives us practical direction for living.
Often called the book of wisdom in the New Testament, the Epistle of James is another great place to begin your study for guidance in daily life. James’ forthright manner and clear word pictures offer specific truths and direction for life’s challenges and focusing on a life that brings honor to God.
O ~ Obedience
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will. ~ Romans 12:2
Often, we need to be taught and reminded of God’s expectations for our lifestyle. Reading about specific people who were obedient to God is especially useful as it gives us “live” examples of what a life that is obedient looks like. Two of my favorite people to study are Joseph and Daniel. Especially with Joseph, we see what a maturing life looks like … and Daniel gives us a wonderful example of standing firm in our faith even in the midst of great difficulty and persecution. You can read about Joseph in Genesis chapters 37 through 50. Daniel’s life is recounted in the Book of Daniel.
In the New Testament, we find much clear instruction about obedience in the epistles (letters written to specific churches or people). Reading Paul’s letters to various churches (Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians) and Peter’s two epistles (1st and 2nd Peter) gives great insight into how a disciple’s life should look.
R ~ Righteousness
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. ~ Matthew 5:6 NIV
Righteousness, a life lived in right relationship with God, is a high pursuit. Learning what righteousness looks like is best done by studying the One who lived a pure life … Jesus Christ. We can best do this by reading the four Gospels ~ Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each of these gives a different perspective on Christ’s life and opens our eyes to what a life in right relationship with God entails. If you have never read through the Gospels, I encourage you to start with John. You will find many familiar verses, including John 3:16 … and new insight into the character of Christ and His desire for those who follow Him.
In addition, there are many examples of those called righteous or faithful in the Old Testament. A great list, often called “The Faith Hall of Fame,” is found in Hebrews 11 … each of those listed in this chapter have their story told in the Old Testament. From Noah to Abraham, Moses to Rahab, these Old Testament saints have much to teach us about living a life that is righteous.
D ~ Devotion
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. ~ Psalm 63:1
I long to be devoted to the Lord … to seek Him earnestly, to thirst for Him, to long for Him … that He may be like water to my dry and weary soul. And in His Word, we find examples of those who were devoted to the Lord.
I love the story of Ruth … her devotion to Naomi translated into a love and devotion to Yahweh, God of Israel. So great was her devotion to the Lord that she, a non-Jew, is listed in the genealogoy of Christ. Reading her story in the Old Testament book of Ruth is sure to inspire you and encourage you about living a devoted life.
In addition to Ruth, David is another who was devoted to God. So great was his devotion, that God called him “a man after my own heart.” David’s life, while filled with many failures and great sin, is also a picture of one who was devoted to the Lord. You can read about David’s life in 1st & 2nd Samuel and 1st Kings. And, in the Psalms, you will find many expressions of his great love for the Lord, his recognition of his need for God’s protection and provision, and his understanding of the greatness of God.
In the New Testament, some of my favorite passages are from John’s epistles (1st, 2nd, and 3rd John). John, who was also the author of the Gospel of John and Revelation, was “the disciple Jesus loved.” It was John who lingered longest at the Cross and who Jesus entrusted with the care of his mother. John’s writings are filled with admonitions about loving God and how that love must translate into a love for others.
If you have not spent time in the Bible because you have been overwhelmed, intimidated, or uncertain, I do hope that these four purposes have helped you identify a starting point for your own study of Scripture. I urge you to spend time daily in God’s Word … 2 Timothy 3:16 – 17 tells us
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (NIV)