Thank God for pastors and teachers who help you understand His Word. The insights you get from study Bibles and commentaries are a big help. But God wants you to read and study the Bible for yourself. The Holy Spirit wants to be you first teacher. Today, we’ll begin looking at how to feed yourself from Scripture.
Look to the Comforter before you look to the commentaries.
An important first step to become self-feeding is to set aside your commentaries and ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand God’s Word. As I mentioned on day 5, one of the wonderful ministries of the Holy Spirit is to guide Christians into truth. You’re missing out on a great blessing if you don’t give Him the chance to do that.
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (Joh 14:26)
“But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” (1Jo 2:27)
When I prepare a Sunday School lesson or a sermon, I always ask for the Holy Spirit’s help. I let Him be my first teacher. I try to interpret each passage I’m preaching before I crack open a study Bible or commentary. (That’s the part I enjoy the most.) Then I look to the commentaries to see if I’ve missed something important. I respect the scholarship of the writers. They know things about language, culture, history, and know of cross references that I don’t know. And when I don’t agree with them, I know why because I’ve studied the Scriptures for myself.
You’ll get better with practice.
Study Scripture with a ready mind (Act 17:11) and the diligence of a workman (2Ti 2:15). If you seek God’s help and work hard, you’ll get better it.
“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Heb 5:14)
As this verse says, it takes time (full age) and practice (use) to develop discernment.
You should read and study.
I worked in an apple orchard right before I went to Marine Corp boot camp. The owner of that orchard also let customers pick their own apples. Many times it was a mom and her children that would meander through the rows of stout trees on a crisp fall morning. They strolled from tree to tree in search of Macs, Cortlands, and Granny Smiths. When they found a low lying limb sagging under the weight of an abundance of apples, they quickly filled their baskets and they were gone.
My work was different. The dew was still heavy on the ground when I got to work, and my sneakers were usually soaked through in the first half hour. I went systematically from tree to tree picking every ripe apple off every limb of every tree. I climbed up and down a ladder. I carried a special picking basket over my shoulder. When it was full, I dumped it into waist high wooden bin. I enjoyed the work, but I sure was tired at the end of the day.
It hit me while I was out there in the fresh air that there was a parallel between apple picking and how people approach the Bible.
Read widely to get familiar with the Bible’s content.
Many people read the Bible like those families I watched in the orchard. They wander from book to book, plucking a sweet verse here and there. They take whatever is within easy reach. They don’t work long, they don’t use any special equipment, and they quit when they’ve satisfied themselves.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Reading is important and you should do a lot of it. Reading puts the Word in your head and the Holy Spirit will call it to mind later. So, read the Bible often to get familiar with its great themes and its general flow. If you don’t, you’ll be more prone to error. Jesus said that the errors of His hearers were caused by their ignorance of the Scriptures:
- Mat 12:3 …Have ye not read…
- Mar 19:4 …Have ye not read…
- Mat 21:42 …Did ye never read in the Scriptures…
- Mat 22:29 …Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures…
Study deeply to master the Bible’s concepts.
Reading the Bible devotionally is wonderful, but there’s more to being a disciple than just casual Bible reading. It takes time, effort and the right equipment to be a Bible student, just like it did to be a workman in the orchard.
“Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.” (Pro 2:3-5)
If you’ve been following this study from the beginning, you’ve noticed some days are more devotional than others. That is, some have personal application, while others set the stage for things that will come later on. Bible study is like that. There may be days where you don’t get a lot of truth to apply because you’re doing the background work you need to do to prepare to learn. That’s why balance between reading and studying is important. You need to have food for today, and plant seeds for future feedings.
Over the next couple of days, we’ll be looking some simple steps to help you become a self-feeding saint.
Points to Ponder
Are you a well-rounded student of God’s Word? Do you read and study the Scriptures consistently? If not, what changes do you need to make to improve?
Read More About It
If you want to get started reading and studying, why not read Ephesians 2 today, and then take some extra time doing a little in depth study of Ephesians 2:8-10.