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Posts Tagged ‘Bible Study’

 

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My eyes scanned the short list of course-possibilities.  I needed three more science hours for my college degree. The one that best fit my schedule? Ornithology. I was not enthused.  Birds simply did not hold my interest.

I expected to just endure that class; instead I became enthralled, mainly because the professor was so enthusiastic. With humor and energy he shared his passion, and slowly his students became fascinated too. The more we learned, the more appreciative we became of the avian world.

To this day, I’m quick to grab my binoculars and study a pecking flicker or an upside down nuthatch dangling at the end of a branch. At least once a week my curiosity sends me to the bird guide so I can refresh my memory about habits (Should the robins still be here?) or exact names (Is that a downy woodpecker or a hairy?).

 

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(It’s a hairy!)

 

Delight has determined my direction toward bird enthusiast.

No doubt you’ve discovered delights that determined direction also–into hobbies, book genres, even careers.

Eons ago, an anonymous psalmist recommended a supreme delight that determines a positive, satisfying life-direction: taking pleasure in God’s Word (Psalm 1:2).

 

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“I don’t know about that,” someone might say. “I’ve tried reading the Bible. It simply does not hold my interest.”

After my transformation from bird-ignorer to bird enthusiast, I’d suggest that not only is interest possible, it is guaranteed if we:

  1. Attend class.

My professor, Dr. Burkholder, could not have changed my attitude if I had not been present. Neither can God perform his miracle of life-transformation if we don’t attend his class, in his Word. And our teacher is none other than the passionate Holy Spirit, who will guide us into all truth (John 16:13). How glorious is that?

 

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  1. Stay focused.

Mindless listening to a lecture or distracted reading of a textbook results in little learning. That’s why we were taught to take notes in school. The same strategy works well while listening to Bible teaching or reading scripture for ourselves. I’ve been amazed by the discoveries and questions that come to mind when pen and paper are handy, compared to when they aren’t.

  1. Seek treasure.

Dr. Burkholder shared with us astounding trivia from the bird world. For example, did you know young hummingbirds that have never migrated before know when to leave their northern homes, how far to travel south, and when to stop—without benefit of other hummers? They fly solo too, even the first time.  (Yet another proof of the genius of Creator God.)

 

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God’s Word includes treasure far more valuable than intriguing trivia—such gems as: faith-building promises, wise guidance, worthy examples to follow (and some examples of what to avoid!), and uplifting encouragement–all ready to be discovered by those who seek.

  1. Pray 

Here’s where the analogy to my ornithology class breaks down. I can’t imagine one of us going to Dr. Burkholder and saying:    “Open my eyes so that I will observe amazing things from your instruction.”

Yet those words make perfect sense when addressed to God. In fact, an anonymous psalmist said exactly that (119:18, ISV).

 

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To read the whole Bible may seem overwhelming—it’s long and some parts are difficult to understand. But who says we have to start from the beginning and read straight through?

The internet offers numerous plans. One site that intrigued me:

http://journeynyc.com/spiritual-growth/bible-reading-plans/

They offer a number of different options, sure to meet the needs of just about anyone—from biblical novice to scholar.

When questions arise, help is available at any number of websites. Two that I like include: www.bible.org and www.gotquestions.org.

Perhaps growing in our delight of God’s Word this year would be more impactful than any other resolution.  After all, he made us.  Developing delight in his Instruction Manual can’t help but lead us in a positive direction.

 

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What delights in the Bible have helped determine positive direction in your life?  Share an example in the Comments section below.

 

* “Delight determines direction”— a quote from Ray Pritchard, author and president of Keep Believing Ministries.

 

P.S.  For 2017 I’ll be posting just once a week in order to allow time for other projects and for assisting our son and daughter-in-law when Baby Girl #2 arrives (sometime mid-January).  I do hope you’ll still return each Thursday for a new post.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.pixabay.com; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.pinterest.com (2); http://www.wikipedia.org; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.pixabay.com.)

 

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“Who has known the mind of the Lord?” Paul asked (1 Corinthians 2:16).

That’s an easy question to answer: Nobody! His intellect and wisdom are far beyond our human ability to comprehend.

After all…

God has worked out the complexities of every living cell–with perfect precision.

 

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(X-ray microscopy combine to picture interior of living cell)

 

He has engineered a staggering number of specialized plants and creatures, carefully interrelated in a web of reliance upon one another.

 

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He has created the unfathomable reaches of the universe filled with countless heavenly bodies of immeasurable proportions.

 

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(Spiral Galaxy M74)

 

Such intellect and wisdom to accomplish these feats is incredible.

Yet, at the end of that same verse above, Paul makes a statement even more astounding. In fact, at first glance it seems ludicrous.

 

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 “We have the mind of Christ.”

 

What? How is that possible? His knowledge and wisdom are infinite; ours is markedly limited.

But Paul makes clear:  we have the mind of Christ because he lives within us (Galatians 2:20).

 

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Not that we can know everything and respond with pure wisdom in all situations. Our perfection is a process that won’t be completed until Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6).

But my heart beats a little bit faster to realize that, each day and for all my tomorrows, I might think more like Jesus, understand more like Jesus, and react more like Jesus.

One particular action will encourage progress: spending time with him, especially in his Word.

 

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Here’s an analogy, though far from perfect. Steve and I have been married a very long time—forty-four years.  At this point, we can finish each other’s sentences, supply missing information or words in a conversation, and sometimes even know what the other is thinking.

It’s as if we’ve acquired a bit of the other person’s mind. And it’s happened bit by bit, over time.

So I repeat: We will have the mind of Christ as we spend time with him day by day– especially in his Word.

And how will we know that his way of thinking is becoming our way of thinking? After all, there’s no measuring stick for spiritual growth.

 

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Oswald Chambers, in My Utmost for His Highest, posed an excellent question that can help us determine our progress:

“Are other people beginning to see God in my life more and more (p. 78)?” Because a person with the mind of Christ will demonstrate Christ-like behavior.

Perhaps we could take an occasional inventory, based on the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The attributes listed in these two verses characterize a person with the mind of Christ–someone who is loving, joyful, peace-filled, patient, kind, good, and so on.  We could ask ourselves, how have I demonstrated these attributes this week?

And what will be the result of cultivating the mind of Christ? “The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).

 

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Life that is characterized by vitality and purpose.

Peace that includes inner-contentment, freedom from guilt, and security for eternity.

That sounds awfully good to me.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Heavenly Father, we praise you for taking us into the high places of blessing in Jesus. That includes this gift: the mind of Christ. And day by day you are transforming us into his likeness, with ever-increasing glory. May I seize this day and its opportunities to think like you, understand like you, and react like you.  

(Ephesians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 3:18)

 

Art and photo credits:  www.lbl.gov; http://www.chesapeakebay.net; http://www.hubblesite.org; http://www.crosspointenwa.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.changingthefaceof christianity.com; http://www.footsoldier4christ.com; http://www.motivationalquotes.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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I love words. I love the rhythm of syllables, like automaticity or higgledy-piggledy.

I love the precise images words can create: glam-shackle house, iridescent skin, aquamarine waters.

I thought about water

                                                   (Photo credit:  www.flickr.com)

And some words I love for their depth of meaning.

LEARN is just such a word. (Leave it to this former teacher to notice the word LEARN!)

When curious about a word and its nuances of meaning, a good place to begin research is with the dictionary. LEARN means: 1) to gain knowledge, comprehension, or mastery of through study or experience, 2) to fix in the mind, 3) to become informed.

Those definitions certainly describe the LEARNing that is part of the Christian life. God wants us to:

• Gain knowledge of Him and His Word (Psalm 9:10; 119:24)
• Comprehend His ways for us (Psalm 25:4)
• Seek mastery over selfish impulses (Romans 13:14)
• Keep focused on Him (Psalm 141:8)
• Become informed about what pleases Him (Ephesians 5:10).

And God promises blessed dividends as we LEARN, like contentment, joy, and fulfillment in life. But how do we accomplish all this LEARNing?

A bit of research produced the following steps that also form an acronym of L.E.A.R.N.

L = Laws. “I will praise you with an upright heart as I LEARN your righteous laws” (Psalm 119:7). God’s Instruction Manual, the Bible, lays out the way to a rich, satisfying life. A wise person LEARNs all he/she can, because the Author is 100% trustworthy. He will never lead us astray.

Reading the Christmas Story

                                                   (Photo credit:  www.flickr.com)

E = Effort and Experience. “Continue in what you have LEARNed and have become convinced of” (2 Timothy 3:14a). What we learn from God’s Words we put into practice. Yes, it takes effort, but as our experience grows, so will our resolve.

I’m reminded of how I feel before my work-out most days. I hate exercising. But like so many distasteful tasks, getting started is the hardest part. Once I’m into the routine, it’s easier (not easy, just easier!) to keep going. The results of regular exercise are what motivate me: 1) The strength and energy I feel. 2) My back doesn’t give me as much trouble. 3) Moderately-firm flesh trumps flabby!

Exercise

Exercise (Photo credit: sanchom)

You see, I’ve LEARNed that effort (to exercise) leads to experience (the results are worth the effort). The same holds true in the spiritual realm. As I make the effort to apply God’s Word to my life, the experiences prove God’s way is best. And I like the results—the peace, joy, and contentment mentioned earlier.

Am I successful every day to apply God’s truth? No. But I take great encouragement from Philippians 1:6: The God who began this good work in me will keep at it and bring it to completion when Jesus returns.

A = Acclamation. “Blessed are those who have LEARNed to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord” (Psalm 89:15). Practice acclaiming—enthusiastically approving—your God. We can establish several “interludes of gratitude” into our daily routines—even leave notes here and there as reminders. Whatever it takes. According to the verse, great blessing awaits!

R = Righteousness. “Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still. Teach a righteous man and he will add to his LEARNing” (Proverbs 9:9). The more we LEARN, the more teachable we become. LEARNing accelerates. It gets easier.

I remember looking at my grandmother with admiration. She seemed perfect to me. How does she do it, I wondered. No doubt it came through years of attention to God’s Word, effort that produced experience, and much acclamation for her God.

Grandmother

Grandmother (Photo credit: Samantha Steele)

N = Notice. “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you…Whatever you have LEARNed or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put into practice” (Philippians 3:17; 4:9).

Paul was not claiming to be a perfect. Back in verse 12 he had made clear, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect.” Paul, too, was LEARNing.

But his life of passionate pursuit after Christ-likeness was a worthy pattern to follow.

Perhaps there is someone in your family, church, or small group that would make a good role model. Look to him/her and LEARN.

And why is all this LEARNing about God’s Word and godly behavior worthwhile?

“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord” (Proverbs 16:20). To flourish in my soul, to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, to rest in trust—these are the ends that more than justify the means of LEARNing.

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