Have you read chapter one? I’ve read it 3 times now; I think it’s time to move on. But before I do, I have at least two posts in me that are just busting to get out. So here goes one:
If you downloaded the Study Guide, you’ll notice the first question. I hope you answered it for yourself: “What are some personal obstacles in thinking long and lovingly about Jesus? What steps can you take through the course of this study to help you recover this dying art?”
I’m going to get a little transparent here and share my answer to this one. My biggest obstacle used to be making and then keeping my appointment. I didn’t see why it was important to make a scheduled time to read the Bible and pray. I thought that sometime during my day I would magically find some time. Not so. Things happen, issues come up, people call and want stuff, the kids don’t take their scheduled nap, and on and on it goes, and pretty soon it’s time to figure out what’s for dinner and I’ve forgotten to take anything out of the freezer. And so I learned much later in life, really only about 4 years ago, that I’ve got to make time, rather than find time. So that was step one. The next step for me was to start reading my Bible. The whole thing. Not just the good parts, or the understandable parts, but the entire thing. Yes, even Chronicles & Numbers. And then to pray through the time. In the last three years, I have read the Old Testament through 3 times, and the New Testament multiple times, depending on the book. The system I use has you reading certain books of the NT every 30 days and certain others every 90 days or so, that’s why the difference.
The other thing I started to do thanks to a sermon I listened to by John MacArthur, is now that I’ve got the general Bible storyline down, have read through it enough to be familiar with it, I am reading one book of the New Testament over and over again for an extended period of time. I have been reading Galatians every day for a month, and I’ve decided that I will extend that for another month. I am getting so familiar with it that I have memorized a little. Not enough. But a little. I got a commentary on Galatians (John MacArthur’s, big surprise there), and will slowly read through that as well.
The next part for me is to spend time meditating on a portion of the Scripture I have read. I don’t have a ‘system,’ per se, but what I’ve been doing lately is reminding myself of a verse that resonated with me during my reading time, and saying it to myself throughout the day. Saying it in different inflections, putting stress on different words, and thinking about what it means. What it really means, not what it means to me! I’m not so good at remembering to dwell on this yet, and sometimes I forget to do it altogether, so I’m not sure where this will lead. But I am going to make it a point to ruminate on something from each chapter of this book, so it becomes ingrained in my mind. I have whole sections from chapter one that I have gone back to read over and over again.
Whew! That was just the first question.
The next question: “Before you read this book, what was your answer to, for what reason did the Son of God appear?” I thought my answer was pretty good. At least it was biblical. I said, to seek and save the lost. Maybe a little selfish, since I was one of those lost. God had a bigger picture in mind–destroying the works of the devil. I like His better.
Back to the book.
The first thing that struck me is the nature of humanity and the way we see the world. It looks good, therefore it must be good. We all do that, right? God’s Word says don’t do such-and-such, but it looks soooooo good. Everyone else is doing it! This is why we need to know the Word of God so well. Because when something that looks good and innocent comes along, our inner radar will go off and our conscience will tell us that there is something wrong here! I like the way the authors put it – believers “see” with their ears, not with their eyes, by listening to God’s Word. But of course that means reading God’s Word today. So it’s still with our eyes, but I know what they authors are going for.
Here’s where following the footnotes pays off and you get yourself another example that everyone is familiar with: 2Samuel 11:1-2.
“In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.”
Whatever temptation a person is faced with, it always looks great. But the repercussions aren’t always that great, are they? You remember how the story ends. And you know what happened to Adam and Eve in the garden – Eve eats of the fruit, blames the serpent, Adam eats the fruit, blames Eve…it’s never our fault. Then comes the judgment.
 The LORD God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
 To the woman he said,
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.”
 And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
(Genesis 3:14-19 ESV)
But right in the middle of the judgment, a promise! Verse 15b – he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel. Who shall bruise the head of the serpent? The Seed of the Woman. And now we know that to be the first Scriptural reference to Jesus Christ. It is amazing to be looking back into history and realize, it really is HIS story!
There is a part in chapter one that I feel we need to talk about so there are no misunderstandings. The part in the next section entitled, Emmaus Road Reading. Specifically about the ‘warm feeling’ in your heart when you read Scripture. That’s for next time.