Dear Children

Letters From A Father's Heart

Archive for the category “Prayer”

How To Read Your Bible

Dear Children,

Here is a list of ways that I read my Bible.  I’ve written them as a lists of Do’s and Don’ts, but please don’t confuse that with the rules of interpreting your Bible.  That would be hermeneutics, and hermeneutics is not different for different people.  Even though I have them listed as do’s and don’ts, it would probably be better stated as: “I suggest that you…”, and “I suggest that you not…”.

Do’s

Make it a goal to read your entire Bible.  Once you have read it, make it a goal to read the entire thing again in time.

Ask God to reveal Himself to you before you read.

Pick a book, any book.  Try to grasp the book as a whole.  Ask yourself what is the overarching message or theme of the book or what is the central message that God is telling His people? Is there a theme?

Once you’ve gotten a better feel for that book, consider it in the context of the rest of the Bible.  How does it fit?  How does it complement the Bible in its entirety?

Divide your time between the Old and New Testaments by perhaps alternating between OT and NT books.  You will note that Jesus, in the Gospels, and also the Apostles, referred to the Old Testament and so should you.

Keep in mind, when you are reading the New Testament that it was written to people who did not have a “New Testament” Bible to study.

Read the Bible in the same way as you would take a leisurely drive down a country road, with lots of time to kill.  When you see an interesting looking barn, feel free to pull over and admire it and/or study it, or whatever.  Camp out there for a while even.  Take some pictures.  Try to draw pictures of it when you get home.  In the same way, as you are reading your Bibles, feel free to stop when you see something that grabs your attention.  Ask your Father in Heaven questions about it.  Read it over a few times to get the jest of it in your mind so you can continue to meditate on it during the day, or days ahead.  Study its context, both locally and globally; that is to say, consider how it fits in the rest of the book, and how it fits in the rest of the Bible?  Dig deep.  God may very well be teaching you.  Keep it in mind as you continue to read.

Try to have a good quality Bible that you will keep for many years.  Prefer, if you can, to read from that Bible.  While you may not remember exactly where that “old barn” was, you will remember that it was, say, on the top right side of the left hand page.  This will make it easier for you to find the places that you have stopped to “take a look”.

Make marks in your Bible if you want to.  Write notes to yourself, and cross references.

Memorize, memorize, memorize, word for word, verses, chapters, even books, as much as you possibly can.

Learn your Bible brick by brick.  If you look at a brick wall it would seem silly to note that the top layer of bricks would not be up there if the bottom layer of bricks were not down there holding them up. The same can be said about things you learn while reading your Bible. Some things that you might have “driven right past without notice” before may be brought to your attention later.  It might well be that that passage you read without noticing, or without understanding yesterday, will help you to understand the one you have in your hand today.  Isaiah had this to say about such things:

Whom will he teach knowledge?
And whom will he make to understand the message?
Those just weaned from milk?
Those just drawn from the breasts?
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept,
Line upon line, line upon line,
Here a little, there a little.”
(Isa 28:9-10)

Don’ts

Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought.  Sometimes it may be that you feel that you have discovered something in your Bible that no one else has ever discovered.  Be very careful!!  This book has been poured over by great minds for 2000 years.  In that 2000 years there have been countless heresies and cults, both on large and small scales, that were started with a “new revelation”.  What we learn should be very similar to what others throughout the 2000 year history of the church have learned.  God is directing and superintending His Son’s bride, and He is big enough for the task.  His bride is the goal.  The Word is for her washing, so you, my children, be washed by the water of His word.

Don’t read your Bible in search of proof texts.  That is not reading your Bible.  That is forging for ammo.  The world is at war with God.  Many of the world’s warriors go by the name “Christian” in these doctrine starved days.  You may find yourself looking for particular scriptures to defend the faith against such, but that is not “Bible reading”.  Be careful!

Don’t judge God as you read, but rather let His words judge you.  Don’t skip over passages that bother you.  In fact, I would suggest spending some time and prayer on those passages in particular.   However, if you have to, feel free to set such passages aside for a time.  Perhaps they are bricks meant for a higher place on the wall than the layer that you are laying now.  I, for many years, hated Romans 9.  I had to pretend that it was not in my Bible for those years because it made me question the goodness of God.  Yet one day I realized that I am a mere sinful  man who was judging my creator according to my own standards, which are corrupt.  In time I have grown to love that passage.

Don’t feel as if you must fit your Bible reading plan into a wooden structure.  If it helps, then by all means do.  The goal is to get God’s Word into your heart and mind.  It must be your foundation.  It must be the lense through which you see and interpret your world and experiences.

Don’t build on the sand.  Spend a few minutes before you read in reflection.  Consider the bigness of God.  Can Jehovah speak a billion universes into existence?  Can he ensure that the words you are reading have come to you, not by the hand of man, but by His loving providence?  Is he subject to what man thinks he knows?   Is He big enough to send a delusion?

Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:  That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.  (2 Thess 2:9-12)

Don’t think yourself stronger than God, and so strong in fact that you will outwit him should He decide that you are one of the ones who will receive His delusion.  Pray instead that your Father in Heaven will have mercy on you.  Pray that often.  Be humble before your God!

I pray, dear children, that God would have mercy on you, as I pray that he would have mercy on me also.  I even now am praying that He would have mercy on your wife and husband should he give you the days to marry.  I pray that he would have mercy on your children, and your children’s children, and I pray that He would give you the wisdom to pray likewise.

Your father

*Pray That Jesus Would Be Your Center

Dear Children

Your father loves songs that are prayers.  One such song is an old Hymn called “Be Thou My Vision”.  If the abundance and affluence that has your father’s existence continue also for you, then you will find that one of the inner battles you will face is the distractions that are very real part of comfort and plenty.  Personal peace and affluence are nice, but they compete powerfully for our hearts and minds, and they can and do steal our loyalties.  Indeed they have stolen mine.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is from Hebrews 11 wherein we are told that Abraham, by faith, sojourned in the land of promise looking “…for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”    A few verses later we are admonished to “[Look] unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…”   Jesus is our hope unto eternal life.  Our hope eternal is that we are hidden in Him from God’s wrath against all unrighteousness.  We must pray that He would not be merely one thing among many in our daily lives, but that he would be our all in all.

But how much is this really true for us? You will find that the glow of our hearts will wax and wane as we meander through the joys, trials, and distractions of our own sojourn. Prayer will be a necessary element in your lives, as your petition your Lord to uphold your spirit mind and body along the paths He has laid out for you. But sometimes prayer will not come easy for you. Yes, indeed, it might be difficult more often than it is natural. With that in mind consider this hymn, Be Thou My Vission. You’ll notice that it is a prayer as much as it is a song. And so you can pray as you sing, and sing as you pray. Think about the words as you send them up in petition. Oh Lord, be thou my vision, oh Lord of my heart. Here are the words. Read them. Sing them as a prayer from your own heart:

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

In this prayer sung we are asking for our Father in Heaven to draw our hearts and minds to Himself, come what may.  We pray that our vision would be fixed upon Him.  We pray that we would not confuse this world’s folly with Godly wisdom. We pray that he would be the center in times of war when the battle is burning hot between our spirit and our flesh, or between this evil world and Jesus’ righteousness in us.  We pray that we would not be taken captive by the securities, lusts, and comforts of this world.  And we pray that we would set not our eyes on things that are seen for a moment, but rather on the things that are unseen and eternal.

When you sing this song and other prayers like it, let it guide your hearts into prayer.  Dare not sing such songs mindlessly.  Sing it instead unto your Lord as a heartfelt prayer from your heart to His that perhaps he would grant you Himself as your foundation, your center, your wisdom and your shield, for unless he grants it, it will not be so.

I pray that you, my children, would stand on my shoulders, low to the ground though they be and glorify our God… your God.  Amen

Your Father

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