I’ve got a question for you: What are you currently studying in the Bible? Not just reading through in the Bible or perhaps reading about in a book on a Bible subject, but actually taking the time and effort to study in God’s Written Word directly? Okay, in fairness, I suppose I should probably tell you what I am currently doing in the way of actual Bible study first.
While it’s not unusual for me to spend a fair amount of spur-of-the-moment time using my Bible software to dig into some “profound” passage I saw referenced in a magazine or web site article, my major study focus right now is the Gospel of Mark. I’m pacing myself at a chapter a week to really explore what different commentaries and handbooks say about the content, context and culture for a better understanding. I am also striving to see each encounter with Jesus through the eyes of the disciples, as I personally believe that many of Jesus’ actions, (including how he performed different miracles), were for their benefit, as much as those he healed or those he challenged. Currently, I am digging into the fifth chapter where Mark devotes a full 20 verses worth of narrative to telling us how Jesus healed a demon-possessed man and subsequently sent the demons into a herd of pigs that go running off a cliff to their death. (Why did Jesus do that?) Then comes one of my favorite miracle accounts where a woman is healed simply by touching Jesus’ cloak as He and his disciples were rushing to where yet another miracle would be performed.
Part of my responsibilities at the church where I work involves teaching a Sunday School class consisting mostly of Senior adults. (It’s also very much a privilege.) Because of a limited schedule for preparation, I often tell the class that “you’re studying what I’m studying.” While this may sound easier, I really have no idea how many times some of our Senior Saints have been through a certain book of the Bible, so I try to liven up some aspects of the teaching a bit. For example, in our current study, I begin each class by reading one chapter from Mark’s gospel… using The Message paraphrase. Here are some of the “highlights” of this version so far, totally void of the “thees” and “thous” pretty much all the members of my class grew up with:
- “As he [John the Baptizer] preached he said, “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life.” Mark 1:7 (MSG)
- Everyone there was incredulous, buzzing with curiosity. “What’s going on here? A new teaching that does what it says? He shuts up defiling, demonic spirits and sends them packing!” Mark 1:27 (MSG)
- Later Jesus and his disciples were at home having supper with a collection of disreputable guests. Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers. The religion scholars and Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company and lit into his disciples: “What kind of example is this, acting cozy with the riffraff?” Mark 2:15-16 (MSG)
- “Are you listening to this? Really listening?” Mark 3:9, 23 (MSG)
God’s Spirit is clearly doing some neat things in the class, simply by starting our study time with my reading the Bible in a “language” the group hasn’t heard over and over, as I will occasionally hear an “ooh” or an “ahh” in response, which tells me (in reference to the last verse quoted above) that the people are indeed “really listening.”
So how ’bout you? What part of the Bible are you studying? Feel free to comment or email me and tell me about what part of God’s Word your current study time is focused on, what method or study guide you’re using and the difference it has made in your thinking and/or actions, so far. I really would like to know.
Of course, if you need some help or encouragement to jump start your time actually studying God’s Word, I’d love to help with that as well. Look at the other posts in this blog for ideas and resource suggestions or feel free to email me. It would be my privilege to assist you in your personal journey exploring and experiencing the Bible.
[Blog Author’s Note: Feel free to share this post with your friends on Facebook and Twitter as a way of encouraging them to explore the quality and quantity of their time actually engaged with God’s Word.]