The Cure for Your Anemic Christian Life ~ You Need the Whole Bible

What if a doctor could order lab tests to assess our spiritual health?

Can’t you hear him now?

“I’ll send your blood tests off to the lab and get a full report on your spiritual health by next week. See the receptionist on your way out to make your follow-up appointment.”

What
Would Your Test Results Reveal?

Many years ago my spiritual health test results would’ve come back positive. Or is it negative? Either way, I’m positive my Christian life had negative issues I was incapable of fixing.

Even though I was active in a great church and loved God, something was clearly off.

As a Christian, I didn’t belong to the world, but I sure looked like it.  Fear, frustration, and pride gripped me just as much as it gripped my non-Christian friends.

No matter how hard I focused on being a good Christian, defeating fear, overcoming frustration, and destroying my pride in a single bound, I failed. Again and again.

“911. Can I Help You?”

A life of constant failure exhausted me. Confusion engulfed me. And, frankly, the Christian life began to bore me.

Help, 911!

What kind of Savior could Christ be if He couldn’t save me from more than hell? If He couldn’t save me from fear, frustration, and pride, how powerful could He really be?

But if He could save me from them, why hadn’t He?

How could the God who created this stunning universe also create such a boring religion? Surely He didn’t. But if not, then why did I find Christianity lackluster and draining?

Something was wrong with either God or with me. One of us needed help. Want to venture a guess who?

I prayed and poured out my struggle, and God answered. But He didn’t order tests. He ordered surgery — Hebrews 4:12 surgery.

The Cure for Your Anemic Christian Life: You Need the Whole Bible (via www.JeanWilund.com)

Biblical Surgery

That day I read the Bible differently than I ever had. Before, I’d treated it as a resource for How to Live the Good Christian Life rather than as the living Word of God able to surgically transform my heart and mind.

This time, when I opened the Bible, I flipped to the book of Genesis and set out to find only one thing — God. I looked for God on every page.

As I noticed God’s character and His ways on each page, His truth cut into my heart and mind. And it began to extract lies I’d believed, such as:

Lie #1: Sure, God loves you because you’re good enough and special enough. But I’m not.

God’s Word showed me that His love for me (for us) is based on His character and His choice to set His love upon us, not on who we are or our worth or deeds.

It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers…
Deuteronomy 7:7-8 ESV

We don’t deserve God’s love. Nevertheless, He chose to give it. We don’t have to earn His love. We can’t. But we can receive it and walk in it with gratefulness that pours out obedience and devotion to Him.

This truth thrilled me and transformed my thinking.

Lie #2: The Old Testament is just a long foreword to the real story in the New Testament.

I’d thought the Old Testament was just the backstory to the real story that begins with the birth of Christ. I’d only focused on the New Testament when I studied the Bible.

But I discovered . . .

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures [the Old Testament] the things concerning himself.
-Luke 24:27 ESV

The Old Testament is a vital part of the whole story of the Bible that reveals our need for a Savior, the picture of what our Savior would look like, and the faithfulness of God that even though we’d continue to be His bull-headed, selfish enemies, He’d still be faithful to who He is and what He’s promised and would send His Son Jesus Christ to earth to seek and save the lost through the shedding of His blood on the cross for the sin of the world.

Whew. That was a long but important sentence — and the truth that my mom kept telling me:

You’ll never really understand the New Testament until you understand the Old Testament.

This truth exposed the next big lie I’d believed that lay at the root of why my Christian life had been anemic.

Lie #3: I don’t need to read the whole Bible.

Admit it. You don’t (or didn’t) want to read the whole Bible either. At least not at first. If you did, I’m jealous of you.

I couldn’t mentally overcome its massive size. But not any more. Now I couldn’t wait to read the whole Bible. I got it. I do need to read it all. And you do, too.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

Every Christian needs to read the whole Bible because, as in AW Tozer’s wise words:

Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.

A surgeon shouldn’t read only part of the patient’s chart. Patients shouldn’t read only half of their doctor’s pre-op and post-op instructions. And God doesn’t want us to read only a few of the books, chapters, and verses of the Bible. We need it all to understand the message God sent us through His inspired Word.

My journey through the Bible has created in me an intense love for God’s Word that has never waned since the first day I committed myself to it over 20 years ago.

I wish I could say by now that I look just like Jesus and not at all like the world. But alas, I’m still in surgery.

I’m not where I want to be, but praise God, I’m not where I was. Every day God’s Word continues to operate on my heart and mind with surgical precision.

If something feels off about your Christian walk — if it’s not exactly what you’d expected or hoped — your test results might be like mine as well as the prescrition:

You need the Bible. The whole Bible.


Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.
~ AW Tozer



PS — A Great Resource for Studying the Bible

God brought Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth of Revive Our Hearts into my life just as I’d discovered the difference the whole Bible makes in a life. Her love for sound doctrine and her knowledge of the Bible has made her one of my favorite Bible teachers.

In this interview, Nancy shares how she studies the Bible:


How Nancy Studies the Bible


If this post encouraged you, pass it on to your friends via email, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. ~ Thanks!




How Long Does It Take to Read the Old and New Testaments? (Infographics)

How Long Does it Take To Read the Old and New Testaments? via www.JeanWilund.com


Know the Word! Know the Word! Know the Word!

I probably say that every time I teach.

Of course, we can’t know the Word unless we read the Word.

Knowing the Word is a lifetime journey — an exciting journey — but how long does it take to simply read the Word?

I stumbled upon a couple of infographics created by Reasonable Theology. Each graphic gives us an idea of how long it takes to read every book of the Bible.

How Long It Takes to Read Each Book in the Old Testament (Infographic)


How Long It Takes to Read Each Book in the New Testament (Infographic)

Enjoy!

You may be surprised how long it doesn't take to read the Bible. #Biblestudy #God #Jesus Click To Tweet

How Long Does it Take To Read the Old and New Testaments? via www.JeanWilund.com




5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Studying the Bible

5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Studying the Bible (via www.JeanWilund.com)

We have 1,440 minutes in every day. Think you can use some of them for studying the Bible?

Me, too.

I found a great article to help us by Crossway and Jen Wilkin, Bible study teacher and author of Women of the Word.

5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Studying the Bible

5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Studying the Bible by @crossway and @jenniferwilkin #Biblestudy #GodsWord Click To Tweet
5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Studying the Bible (via www.JeanWilund.com)

Feel free to share this great article by Crossway (and Jen Wilkin).




Welcome to the Bible: Chapters and Verses Bring Convenience and Challenges ~ Part 2 ~ Context Matters

Welcome to the Bible: Chapter & Verse Part 2 - Context Matters (www.JeanWilund.com)


God Inspired the Bible. Man Added Chapters and Verses, And a Few Challenges: Loss of Context.

I’m thankful man added chapters and verses to the Bible. I’m also thankful I learned about the challenges that come with them.

Last time we looked at the first of three challenges that come with breaking up the divine text into chapters and verses. (There may be more challenges, but these are the three that stood out to me.)

Today we’ll look at the second of those challenges.

1. The Bible’s chapters and verses are handy man-inspired tools, not God-inspired division.

2. Man-inspired chapters and verses can lead to misunderstanding the God-inspired text through loss of context.

3. Chapters and verses can encourage snacking on Scripture rather than dining.


Loss of Context

Chapters and verses cause us to pause.

Sometimes those man-made pauses indicate a change in thought, time, or events. But not always.

Remember, originally, the first word in each chapter or verse was just the next word in the book or letter. They weren’t written with the mindset that they’d be broken up into chapters or verses.

When studying a passage, we need to look before and after the passage to avoid misunderstandings.

BIBLE STUDY TIP: If a sentence begins with a “look-back word” like “And” or “Therefore,” be sure to look back at what came before it.

BIBLE STUDY TIP: When you see the word “therefore,” ask yourself what the “therefore” is there for?”


Example #1: Colossians 2:21

Forbidden or Free

“Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” ~ Colossians 2:21

Colossians 2:21 seems to teach us what we shouldn’t do.

Until we read the verse right before it.

“Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules.” ~ Colossians 2:20

Rather than Paul encouraging physical self-denial, he’s actually preaching freedom from man-made rules—freedom in Christ.


Example #2: Luke 21

The Poor Widow — Commendation or Condemnation?

And He [Jesus] looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on” (Luke 21:1-4, NASB).

Most teachings I’ve heard on Luke 21:1-4 never mention the context. They don’t even seem to consider chapter 20 or the verses after Luke 21:4.

The focus most often falls on the poor widow’s generous giving, teaching that Jesus is commending the widow and instructing us to give as generously.

But, when we read this passage in context, we can see an alternative meaning.

Luke 20:45-47: And while all the people were listening, He said to the disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”

Verse 45 begins with the “look-back” word “And,” so we need to keep looking back to get the full meaning.

From the beginning of chapter 20, certain religious leaders attempted to trick Jesus into condemning Himself. They came to Him under the pretense of wanting to understand truth, but Jesus exposed the true motive of their hearts.

Jesus warned His disciples of the leaders’ evil intent and ways, mentioning they “devour widows’ houses.”

It’s right after these warnings that Jesus pointed out the poor widow as she placed her last coins into the temple box. She gave all she had left to survive on.

Jesus commented only on what she gave. Nothing more about her. Nothing about her attitude. Only that she gave all she had left to survive on.

Then He immediately talked about the Temple and warned about being led astray by false teachers and leaders.

And while some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, He said, “As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.” They questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, when therefore will these things happen? And what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” And He said, “See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not go after them. ~ Luke 21:5-8


Two Interpretations

Is Luke 21:1-4 a teaching on giving generously or about abuse of the poor by religious leaders?

Is Jesus commending the poor widow or is He condemning the disreputable leaders?

I’ll leave it to the Biblical scholars to debate the correct interpretation of this passage. My point is that when we look at passages in isolation rather than context, it can lead us to see the message of the passage differently.

For more insight check out these links:
Does God Wants Us To Give Everything by Grace To You
Abusing the Poor by Grace to You
Jesus and the Widow’s Offering by Bible.org
Giving, It’s a Good Thing by Calvary Baptist Church
The Widow and Her Two Coins: Praise or Lament? by Boston Bible Geeks


Context Matters

The division of chapters and verses makes studying and memorizing the Bible much easier, but remember to read it in context.

REMEMBER: Man-inspired chapters and verses can lead to misunderstandings. Read Scripture in context, not in isolation.


(For more information check out Don Stewart’s article Why Is the Bible Divided into Chapters and Verses? on www.blueletterbible.com.)

Man-inspired chapters and verses can lead to misunderstandings. Read Scripture in context, not in isolation. #Biblestudy #theWord Click To Tweet




Dine, Don’t Snack, on Scripture ~ Welcome to the Bible: Chapters and Verses Bring Convenience and Challenges ~ Part 3


Does this ever happen to you?

Life gets busy. Too busy to do much more than the most urgent, like drink coffee so you can do everything else.

Reading the Bible falls off your plan for the day.

And the next day.

And the next.

Ugh.

You move through the week and lament that you haven’t had time to read your Bible. But you don’t do anything about it.


It used to happen to me a lot.

Then a well-meaning friend encouraged me to simply read a verse or two each day saying, “It’s better than nothing.”

Brilliant.

Instead of sitting down for an extended time of reading a few days a week, I faithfully read a verse or two every day.

It was better than nothing.

Or so I thought.

Over time I noticed my relationship with God growing more and more shallow.

I didn’t know why. I missed the connection.

The Enemy of Best

It seems logical that a verse or two is better than nothing. But sometimes better is the enemy of best.

Imagine a pediatrician saying to the mother of a toddler, “You’re busy. It’s ok if you just feed your child a couple of bites of food a day. It’s better than nothing.”

Technically, the doctor would have a point. Two bites are better than no bites. But it’s not best.

Making time to feed children just enough food so they don’t starve to death is better than not making time to feed them at all. But this better situation is no friend of the child’s best.

Taking time out of a busy schedule to feed children well every day so they can grow strong and healthy is always best.

Surely every pediatrician would agree.

Chapters and Verses Entice Snacking

Because the Bible has been divided into chapters and verses, it’s easy for us to stop reading at the end of a verse.

The man-made divisions hint at a break in thought or action and make it easier to stop reading, but this isn’t the best way to read.

We don’t need to go back and remove the chapters and verses from our Bibles. We just need to resist the temptation to snack on Scripture rather than dine.

Should We Abandon All Snacking?

Snacking has its place – both in food and in verses.

Every day I read, pin, like, and heart memes of Bible verses on Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram.

And some days there really is no time for me to read more than a Bible verse meme. Let’s don’t abandon all spiritual snacking.

And certainly not edible snacks. I count the minutes until my 4:00 pm coffee and snack time. Sometimes I have it at 3:00 pm.

Hot chocolate chip cookies or fresh blueberries with a mug of coffee = Happiness.

But if the only food I ate every day was my 4:00 pm snack, my health would fail no matter how healthy my snacks are.

When scriptural snacks were my only source of spiritual nutrition, my relationship with God grew small. My faith, wimpy.

But once I began reading the Bible in all-you-can-eat buffet portions (and in context), my understanding of God and His character expanded. My walk with Him took off.

Imagine that.

My love for and faith in God hasn’t starved since. And they’re still growing as I keep dining on large servings of Scripture rather than snacking.

BTW, there’s no magic formula. No one can tell you how many verses are enough — except God. Let Him lead your time in His Word.

Is It Ever Good To Study Just a Verse or Two?

Absolutely.

It’s a great habit to dig deep into individual verses. To get to the marrow of its meaning.

I’m currently working my way through Romans. One verse at a time.

It’s taking a long while, but I want (need) to understand it better. So I focus each day on a few passages while remembering that reading verses in isolation rather than in context can lead to misunderstanding God’s message.

As I study Romans verse by verse, I also read a chapter or two to let the bigger picture of Romans soak into my mind. And I read other books of the Bible as well.

We shouldn’t become legalistic about our daily reading. It’s not a measure of our spiritual worth. We don’t win points with God when we read. Nor does He hand down demerits when we miss.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1 ESV.

No condemnation. None.

But God’s Word blesses us – changes us – when we read it.

You may have to force yourself to read it at first. But eventually, if you read the Bible in order to know the God of the Word, you’ll begin to long for the Word of the God.

Time in God’s Word will become as enticing as that morning cup of liquid heaven. (That’s coffee for me. I don’t know what you strange non-coffee drinkers enjoy.)

No Time? Pray and Make Time

Life is busy. It’s not likely to slow down.

Deal with it. (Was that too harsh? Sorry.)

Pray and ask God. He’ll make a way for you. He may wake you early to read. Or He may open up time for you to read during the day or evening.

We should all ask God to make us aware of the time we already have that we may be misspending watching TV, piddling on Social media, or catching a little extra shut-eye.

Trust God to enable you to accomplish all you need to do each day. Then walk by faith and make time for reading your Bible – even if you don’t think you have time.

God will provide all you need. But you have to trust Him by sitting down with your Bible.

Don’t wait for Him to sit you down. You’ll probably enjoy it more if you voluntarily sit down rather than having God sit you down.

My mom once told me I was too busy. “You need to drop some of your activities,” she said. I told her it was impossible. A couple of months later I had to have surgery. Somehow everything got done without me. She smirked, and I dropped some of my activities. I got sat down, and I listened.

Just as you’d make time to serve a child three full meals a day, make time every day to serve yourself one full meal of spiritual nourishment from God’s Word.

REMEMBER: Chapters and verses can encourage snacking on Scripture rather than dining. Make time to serve yourself a full meal from God’s Word by reading large portions of Scripture every day.

The Word of God Endures Forever

Chapter and verse divisions may not last, but the Word of our God will stand forever.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
~ Isaiah 40:8 ESV

Dine - don't snack - on Scripture. Why you should read more than a verse or two a day. #Biblestudy #GodsWord Click To Tweet