Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…
Bible Reading

Reading through the book of Judges

This week we started into the book of Judges. After the book of Joshua in which we saw great victory, we now enter the time of the judges in which we will see great defeat.
If you were to summarize the book of Judges from a big picture perspective, how would you describe it? Well at least one way would be as follows:

-
The people of God fall into sin
- God disciplines them with foreign nations who come in and oppress them
- The people of God cry out in repentance
- God raises up a deliverer for His people
- Peace once again is restored into the land



What should the book of Judges teach us about mankind?
What should the book of Judges teach us about God?

A couple of other things to consider as your read through Judges:
How many generations passed before the people started to exhibit this kind of behavior toward the LORD?
Look closely at Chapter 1:19-36, what consistent problem do we notice with the tribes of Israel?

Application time:
How would you teach this particular book to a class of 10 year olds?
How do you apply this in your daily walk with the Lord Jesus?

blessings,

Understanding "how" to read the Bible

You have heard me say over the last year that all of us tend to read the Bible too fast. Yes, I am all about reading through the Bible each year and every year. But I also about stopping for devotion time to think deeply about what we read. Jesus says throughout the gospel accounts of His life “have you not read but then He goes on to say do you understand what you are reading. There are many passages that require other passages understood in context to reveal what the author intended when he wrote it. In terms of Bible hermeneutics we call this principle the unity of Scripture.

Recently I found a short article by Dr. John Piper on “how to” properly read God’s word. Hopefully this will sharpen you Bible reading and devotion skills as we continue in our Bible reading, study and devotions.

Sometimes readers of the Bible see the conditions that God lays down for his blessing and they conclude from these conditions that our action is first and decisive, then God responds to bless us.

That is not right.

There are indeed real conditions that God often commands. We must meet them for the promised blessing to come. But that does not mean that we are left to ourselves to meet the conditions or that our action is first and decisive.

Here is one example to show what I mean.

In Jeremiah 29:13 God says to the exiles in Babylon, "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." So there is a condition: When you seek me with all your heart, then you will find me. So we must seek the Lord. That is the condition of finding him.

True.

But does that mean that we are left to ourselves to seek the Lord? Does it mean that our action of seeking him is first and decisive? Does it mean that God only acts after our seeking?

No.

Listen to what God says in Jeremiah 24:7 to those same exiles in Babylon: "I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart." Read More...

The Bible and the prophets

When we read through the Old Testament we encounter a number of prophets. As a matter of fact one of the primary genre's in the Bible is that of prophecy. And at the present we are reading through the book of Isaiah. For your additional study on the prophets as we read through the Bible this year I have included at this LINK. Please note that this is a pdf file which means that you can print out.

I am continuing to make the appeal for "Finally This Year!" On Wednesday night I did a quick review of the last 100 years in the church and our move from what was called modernity to today's culture which is called "post-modernity." Even though this term has been around for years it basically deals with a culture who has given up on the fact that there is absolute truth. The terms you will here today are relevance and tolerance especially when it comes to views on religion. Be aware as you read through the prophets at how often they spoke these words from God "I am the LORD your God." It seems that God was not willing to tolerate a worship of any other gods but Himself. However the disturbing new trend even in the church is to agree that there is more than one way to God. Here is the LINK to that particular article from the Pew Forum’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey. Vance Havner a famous Southern Baptist preacher of his day once wrote an article called "America needs a prophet." The basic jest of the article had to do with the prophets in America are ask to sit down and shut up because they are seen as harsh. How do you suppose an Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea or Amos would be received today in the church especially behind the pulpit?

Lord willing, we someday will be on our last section of doctrinal study which is called soteriology or "the doctrine of salvation." In that section the main text to deal with comes from the book of Romans which is the main epistle we have dealing with salvation. You will notice in the first three chapters that Paul is delivering the bad news to all mankind. There is none one who is good, no one seeks for God there is no one that is righteous. It reminds me of the reading in the Old Testament from the prophets as they talk about sin, judgment and condemnation. But as you read there starts to be a wonderful discovery in this type of Biblical truth. One must come to embrace and understand the bad news in order that they can receive and live out the good news. So may I encourage you as your read through the prophets to allow the bad news, the sin, evil and wickedness of man to be seen, in order to point you to the one solution for this terminal problem and that is Christ Jesus Himself!

God is holy and righteous and our sin is evil, wicked and a horrible offense to God. There is no way that we could ever stand before the righteousness of God in our sinful condition. However once we fall on the mercy of the cross and cast ourselves onto Christ and receive Him as Lord and Savior, sins are made white as snow and His garment of righteousness covers us from head to toe. And now only now can we be "declared righteous" in the public courtroom of God. So that on that day when we come face to face with Him we may enter into the joy of our master and eternal life with Him forever!

Blessings,

Bible reading vs. Bible study

One of the goals in developing this website was to provide you with a variety of resources that can help in regard to your Bible reading, study and devotion. Over the years I have been asked what is the difference for example between Bible reading and Bible study. This morning I came across a very helpful article in this particular area. Also you get some very good information on how to dig more deeply and effectively as you come to the Bible. However this kind of article needs the proper time to digest. So grab your favorite beverage, put on those fuzzy bunny slippers, along with notebook and Bible. Simply click on this LINK.

Job and suffering

This morning I as read through Job 5 and 6 and an actual story came into my mind about sin and suffering. As you can see what starts to develop quickly in the dialogue between Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar and Job is that Job's suffering must be related to the sinfulness in his life. Even though in Job's argument back to his friends in these subsequent chapters has much that is wrong, Job understands at some level that this suffering is not because he has sinned. I have made mention of this story in the past, but years ago I ran into a group of people in the church not unlike Job's friends. They had come under the influence of a "false" teacher who had used "proof texting" in the Bible to show those under his influence, that all suffering and I mean all suffering is due to sin in the person's life. This particular group even unknown by a husband at the time, got into the hospital room of a dying woman and told her see needed to find the core sin or the root sin in her life in order for healing to occur. Another couple, the husband who I had the privilege of discipling for a period of time, lost a child due to a miscarriage. I found out later that this same group had approached them with this same kind of "you need to find the root sin" in your life. SS community, I reject that kind of teaching with ever fiber of my being! Why do I share this with you? Because this kind of "false" doctrine goes on in much larger measures than many of you may want to believe. And by that I mean within the walls of our evangelical what we would call orthodox churches.

When Jesus told Peter in John Chapter 21 three times "Feed My Sheep" it was given in the imperative mood from a nourishing and protecting of those within the fold of His church. Then we come to the apostle Paul in Acts 20:28-29 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Go back when you get time to check out the context of exactly who Paul is talking to, but notice where these false teachers will arise in verse 30 "from among your own selves." Folks I have personally seen what I would have called strong orthodox evangelicals make shipwreck of their faith as they moved into and under false teaching. And what is both sad and dangerous are the numbers of people that are in their sphere of influence.
Read More...

We now return to our regularly scheduled curriculum

Two weeks ago we officially launched into our 2009-2010 Bible Reading Plan. Then last week I read Romans 1-2 and made some brief comments along the way. My point last week was let’s lock arms and read through the Bible. It will be a challenge some days you will miss but don’t get discouraged, keep moving!
I was hoping to post this weeks notes before today, but more on that later. Anyway tomorrow we take a final look at the relationship between Jesus and God the Father. This is point #4; God the Father sums all things up in Jesus His Son. We should complete this final category and then we will start into the relationship between Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Here are the notes for the first part of this teaching.

Jesus lived His life in the power of the Spirit

When we see the teaching in the Bible between Christ and the Spirit, we have two themes that do not come together easily and may on the surface even appear to conflict.

First Theme - Jesus submitting to the Spirit, yielding to the Spirit, living His life in the power of the Spirit and Jesus following the leading of the Spirit

Second Theme - Jesus clearly announces in the NT that it is the Spirit who will come to glorify Christ

Read More...

The ministry of being...


Each Thursday for the next number of weeks our Bible reading plan has us in the book of Job. As I was entering into my reading this morning of Chapters 3 and 4 I reviewed the following verses from the end of Chapter 2.

Job 2:11 ¶ Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, they came each one from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite; and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him.
Job 2:12 When they lifted up their eyes at a distance and did not recognize him, they raised their voices and wept. And each of them tore his robe and they threw dust over their heads toward the sky.
Job 2:13 Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.

Years ago when I entered full time ministry Pastor Russ pulled me aside and gave me some wonderful Biblical counsel. I was dealing with a very difficult ministry situation in which one of the members of the church had a family member die suddenly. Russ said "Bert, now is the time for the ministry of being." It was the model of ministry from Job 2:13 in which you are simply with the person. At times there is nothing to say, but your presence in a time of great crisis can provide so much comfort and support. There is a time to teach doctrine and to have a solid foundation of Scripture. But at the time of tragedy hopefully the theology is grounded and the ministry becomes one of being with them.

In the book of Job for the chapters that follow the friends start to open their mouths and dispense with some really faulty theology. We know that to be the case because of what God says to them at the end of Job in Chapter 42. Here is for us, a good lesson in the book of Job when dealing with others in crisis, we need to learn the value in the ministry of being.

blessings,

Week #2

Bible Reading for the Week

Sunday Romans 3-4

Monday Genesis 4-7

Tuesday Joshua 6-10

Wednesday Psalm 3-5

Thursday Job 3-4

Friday Isaiah 7-11

Saturday Matthew 3-4


Bible Reading Plan

In case you missed our kickoff for the Bible Reading Plan on Sunday you can find it in the sidebar of this blog site -



Thanks for your response and please understand from past experience there is no perfect plan for everyone in a class or the church. However I have found this plan to bring a balanced reading in both Old and New Testament as you go through the year.

Someone talked to me the other day and shared the following observation “hey Bert check out what God says about His word in Joshua and Psalms 1 from our Bible Reading this week.

Josh. 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

Psa. 1:1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
Psa. 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

Well, needless to say, as that was being pointed out to me I had somewhat of a mini glory fit. Because this is exactly what happens when a group of believers commit to getting back to the word together. They share observations and in doing so we encourage one another to know Him by knowing His word.

Remember this is a marathon and not a sprint. The key is to finish well not just to start well. So be prepared for some leg cramps, maybe I should say some brain cramps along the way. But through all of the ups and downs keep moving and keep reading.

Blessings




We have lift off, I repeat, we have lift off!

This will serve as the review for September 20.


Yesterday we officially launched into the 2009-2010 Bible reading plan. We handed out cards yesterday that can be placed in your Bible in order to keep us at the same place at the same time in our reading this year. Can you imagine a community of people committed to reading through the word of God so that Christ may be demonstrated as great? Well, that is our goal as we move into year two of our “learning and living the God-centered life” community.

I was hoping to launch our Bible reading plan on September 13. But after going into the worship service at 11 AM it quickly became obvious why it was not able to happen until this week. For those of you who missed it Dr. Poplin preached on “the importance of God’s word.”

As usual I did not get through the teaching in Power Point. But I have included the notes and the links that you might find challenging and somewhat fun. There were two short videos that I had planned to show this past Sunday but didn’t get to them.

We again went over the challenge that I am laying before this community for the 2009-2010 year. And the reason for my ongoing emphasis is the testimony given yesterday by Patti Duckworth. I wanted to go up front and just conclude by saying “folks I hope your ears were attentive to all that Patti said this morning because that is the lesson.” It has been a blessing and joy for Nancy and I to start getting to know people like the Duckworth’s. Over the years the Lord has called to a ministry of challenging people back to His word. As Rodney and Cynthia Young have been called to those in China and go overseas, so Nancy and I sense God’s calling to those in Southeast Charlotte who need to know Him by knowing His word.

The challenge for the 2009-2010 year

"FINALLY THIS YEAR" Lord you have my full and undivided attention. There will be, by Your grace, no competition between recreation, entertainment, business, kids activities or anything else that can so easily distract and entangle me. Though I recognize all these activities will be part of my life, I maintain and cling to the truth that you are my life.

"FINALLY THIS YEAR" I first of all will prepare my heart to hear from God as never before. I will recognize that God is sovereign, and may do with me whatever He pleases. But heavenly Father my prayer will be for You to extend to me a measure of faith as never before, with regards to the reading, devotion and study of Your word.

"FINALLY THIS YEAR" I am praying to trust,depend, rely on Christ as neverbefore. And I am longing to be desperate for You Lord and You alone!!!

I think I could give you a Bible verse to support each sentence but for now I pray that the challenge will be part of your 2009-2010 years.

Read More...

Understanding Bible translations

Since we are preparing to launch into our Bible reading plan for the year, I am often asked about Bible translations. It may help for you to understand some of the basics of a Bible translation. And for that I will allow both Michael Patton and Douglas Stuart along with Gordon Fee to give you some sound instruction.

* Formal Equivalence: Translations that seek to translate word for word (although this is really impossible). Examples: NAS, KJV, ASV, ESV. Less readable, but better for study in contemporary languages. Why? Because they will usually attempt to make fewer interpretive decisions on any text that can be understood in many ways. This allows the reader to struggle through the options.
Literal The attempt to translate by keeping as close as possible to the exact words and phrasing in the original language, yet still make sense of the receptor language. A literal translation will keep the historical distance intact at all points.

* Dynamic Equivalence: Translations that seek to translate thought for thought. Examples: NIV, TNIV, NRSV, etc. Not quite as good for deep study, but usually better for reading and memorization. Dynamic equivalence translations make good pulpit or teaching Bibles.
Dynamic Equivalent The attempt to translate words, idioms, and grammatical constructions of the original language into precise equivalents in the receptor language. Such a translation keeps historical distance on all historical and most factual matters, but "updates" matters of language, grammar and style.

* Paraphrase: Translations that seek to use common language and idioms to get the basic point across in a very readable way. Examples: Message, Philip’s Translation, NLT, GNB, etc. While paraphrases are not good for study or memorization, they are very readable and cause you to read the text differently than you normally would. In this respect, they have great value. Read More...

Launching our Bible reading plan

On Sunday we will officially launch our Bible Reading Plan for this 2009-2010 year. I am going give a brief description as it relates to Bible translations. For your information the Bible I use for study is an NASB and the one I use for reading is NLT. Maybe this chart can be helpful as you decide on a translation that you want to use this year.

Why don't people read the Bible

Rightly handling the Bible



Over the years I have had the privilege of writing and evangelical blogs. There are many solid, orthodox and God-honoring blog writers, and I came across one today from a guy named Puritan Lad. After reading and because of our class, subject, and the focus of our study I decided to copy and post. Hope you enjoy!

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)

What sort of book is the Bible? The answer to that question has great ramifications in how it is preached. Too often, the Bible is misused even by those who believe it's truths, but miss the ultimate story.

First, there are the therapeutics, who treat the Bible as a therapy manual. They are convinced that, whatever problem they may face, there is a specific answer to that problem if they can just find the right passage. If you are lonely, hurt, or depressed, the correct verse will fix your problem and help you "fulfill your purpose".

There are the enchanters, who use the Bible as a magic spell to encounter whatever issues they face. Just observe the popularity that surrounded the mysticism of the "Jabez Prayer" chants and the "Meal that Heals" potions from a few years ago.

Then there are the pragmatics. For these, the Bible is a how-to manual. They believe that. if you want to make more money, become more healthy, find the right diet, improve your relationships, or have better sex, there is a specific Scripture passage for each of these areas. (Note for modern evangelicals: The Bible does NOT teach us "how to have great sex").

Along these same lines are the legalists and the moralists, who hold that the Bible teaches us ways to please God by our works. Just "do good", and if you struggle, it is the job of the church to help you do better, usually resorting to pop-psychology and behavioral modification techniques.

However, while there are certainly practical teachings and wisdom that we can (and should) apply to our lives, the Bible is not a magic book, a therapy manual, a how-to instuction guide, or a book on ethics. The Bible, from beginning to end, is a story of redemption. It is how a Just and Holy God took His wrath, which was deserved to be poured out upon wicked and abominable men clothed in sin and deformity, and instead poured it upon His only Son. It is about God's love, not man's importance; God's grace, not man's worthiness. The Bible's main character is Christ, not the idols of "Me" and "purpose".

Let us not only live as those who believe the Word, but as workers who have "no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15).

Clarifying the Bible

Mitch Maher (Lead Pastor at Fellowship Bible Church in Jonesboro, AR) has a new website featuring an important resource I would warmly recommend. Here's the description:

You have probably been told at some point in your life, “You just need to read the Bible,” or “You just need to study the Scriptures.” But, if you are like most people, nobody has ever taken you by the hand and said, “Before you jump into the Bible, let me introduce you to it first. Let me walk you through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, show you the lay of the land, and give you a bit of confidence as you read and study for yourself.” That is just what Clarifying The Bible does.

Born from the passion of those who heard this material taught in Memphis, TN, Clarifying The Bible is a helpful workbook and one hour forty-five minute DVD presentation that promises to open your eyes to the Scriptures as never before.

If you would like to feel more comfortable as you dive into the greatest Book ever written, then Clarifying The Bible is for you!
The teaching material is clear and helpful; I hope many churches and small groups go through this. It should prove to be a helpful tool to help everyday folks "put the pieces together."

In this short segment I have included part of the video in which Mitch gives an overview from Matthew to John.
Again this is an excellent series for those who want to get a good basic overview of the Bible.

To see a short excerpt from this video series check out the teaching on Matthew-John - LINK.

And also Mitch’s brief summary of Acts - LINK

Bible Reading

Do you read the Bible from a God-centered perspective? This morning during my Bible reading I came across these verses in Joshua 4:23 “For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the LORD your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed;
Josh. 4:24 that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, so that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”

Now just think about this for a minute and be amazed with your God.

Here is how my mind works, (scary I know) when I come to these type of verses:
The reasons God DID NOT bring them into the land in order to:
1. Give them better marriages
2. To help them find more secure and exciting jobs
3. In order that they could raise children that would no longer rebel but would go to good schools and be successful
4. Allow them to have more social contacts and increase networking opportunities
5. To develop their leadership skills

The list above all focus on man-centered reasons and much today in the evangelical church is concentrated on these things. However according to these verses God brought them into the land for the following reason:

SO THAT ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE EARTH MAY KNOW THAT THE HAND OF THE LORD IS MIGHTY
and
THAT YOU MAY FEAR THE LORD YOUR GOD

Sounds to me like God is most interested and concerned about His name, and His honor, and His glory rather than their comfort and convenience!

Let's put our lives under the plumb line of God's glory, and His desire that His name be honored throughout the earth.
  • Is this the one overriding main priority to our lives as Christians?
  • Is the Christian life for us about the gifts we receive or the Giver?
  • Is this life about the blessings we can have or the Blessor?

just some thoughts as we head into this week - blessings,

Bert

A good Bible translation

One of the questions that I am most often asked is about Bible translations. It may help for you to understand some of the basics of a Bible translation. And for that I will allow both Michael Patton and Douglas Stuart along with Gordon Fee to give you some sound instruction.

* Formal Equivalence: Translations that seek to translate word for word (although this is really impossible). Examples: NAS, KJV, ASV, ESV. Less readable, but better for study in contemporary languages. Why? Because they will usually attempt to make fewer interpretive decisions on any text that can be understood in many ways. This allows the reader to struggle through the options.
Literal The attempt to translate by keeping as close as possible to the exact words and phrasing in the original language, yet still make sense of the receptor language. A literal translation will keep the historical distance intact at all points.

* Dynamic Equivalence: Translations that seek to translate thought for thought. Examples: NIV, TNIV, NRSV, etc. Not quite as good for deep study, but usually better for reading and memorization. Dynamic equivalence translations make good pulpit or teaching Bibles.
Dynamic Equivalent The attempt to translate words, idioms, and grammatical constructions of the original language into precise equivalents in the receptor language. Such a translation keeps historical distance on all historical and most factual matters, but "updates" matters of language, grammar and style.

* Paraphrase: Translations that seek to use common language and idioms to get the basic point across in a very readable way. Examples: Message, Philip’s Translation, NLT, GNB, etc. While paraphrases are not good for study or memorization, they are very readable and cause you to read the text differently than you normally would. In this respect, they have great value. Read More...

A Bible Reading System



* PROFESSOR GRANT HORNER'S 'TEN LISTS BIBLE READING SYSTEM'*

Each day you will read one chapter from each list, in order. THAT'S RIGHT -- *TEN CHAPTERS PER DAY*!!! Use ten bookmarks or sticky notes with the individual lists on them to keep track of your locations. On day one, you read Matthew 1, Genesis 1, Romans 1, and so forth. On day 2, read Matthew 2, Genesis 2, etc. On day 29, you will have just finished Matthew, so go to Mark 1 on the Gospel list; you’ll also be almost to the end of 2nd Corinthians and Proverbs, you’ll be reading Psalm 29 and Genesis 29, and so forth. When you reach the last chapter of the last book in a list – start over again. Rotate all the way through all the Scriptures constantly. Since the lists vary in length, the readings begin interweaving in constantly changing ways. You will NEVER read the same set of ten chapters together again! Every year you’ll read through all the Gospels four times, the Pentateuch twice, Paul’s letters 4-5 times each, the OT wisdom literature six times, all the Psalms at least twice, all the Proverbs as well as Acts a dozen times, and all the way through the OT History and prophetic books about 1 ½ times. Since the interweaving is constantly changing, you will experience the Bible commenting *on itself* in constantly changing ways -- the Reformer's principle of 'scriptura interpretans scripturam' -- 'scripture interpreting scripture' IN ACTION!
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ESV Study Bible - 2009 Book of the Year

On Thursday, March 19, 2009, The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) announced the winners of the 2009 Christian Book Awards during the Christian Book Expo in Dallas.

The ESV Study Bible, which has sold more than 180,000 units within five months of release, won both its category for best Bible as well as the overall Christian Book of the Year award. This is the first time in the award's 30-year history that a study Bible was named Christian Book of the Year.

Crossway President Lane Dennis called the recognition "stunning." He said the reaction to the Bible had been remarkable, and he credited the "tremendous" team at Crossway for its development. "It's amazing to think about the impact it's having worldwide, that especially during challenging times, people are turning to God's Word," he told Christian Retailing. "It's his gift--what an honor it is to publish it."

The Christian Book Awards winners were selected from 218 products submitted by ECPA member publishers in 2008.

In celebration of winning the Book of the Year award, we are pleased to provide a 35% discount on all print editions of the ESV Study Bible thru April 8, 2009. Just click on this LINK.

Happiness of the soul

During the first 8 months we have been focusing on the importance of Bible reading, devotion and study. One of my goals as we continue, is to introduce our community to heroes of the Christian faith down through the church history. Over my years in full time ministry I have noticed much attention that is paid to contemporary writers of Christian material. Record sales have been recorded with books such as “The Prayer of Jabez”, “The Purpose Driven Life” and even more recently “Your Best Life Now.”
However I remember years ago a pastor/theologian said that the first thing after the Bible he recommended were the autobiographies of great Christian men and women throughout church history.

The following is quoted from the autobiography of George Mueller. Please pay close attention to what George Mueller discovered about the word of God and its application for his own life. This article is lengthy but well worth the time and underlining different sections as we continue on in our “learning and living the God-centered life.”

It has recently pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, irrespective of human instrumentality, as far as I know, the benefit of which I have not lost, though now, while preparing the fifth edition for the press, more than fourteen years have since passed away. The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord.
How different, when the soul is refreshed and made happy early in the morning, from what it is when, without spiritual preparation, the service, the trials, and the temptations of the day come upon one!
- George Mueller

The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished.

For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit.

Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as an habitual thing to give myself to prayer, after having dressed myself in the morning. Now, I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the word of God, and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by means of the word of God, whilst meditating on it, my heart might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord.
I began therefore to meditate on the New Testament from the beginning, early in the morning.
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How to Read the Bible

Pastor Ray Ortlund writes from his blog site Christ is Deeper Still
There are two ways to read the Bible.

We can read it as law or as promise.

If we read the Bible as law, we will find on every page what God is telling us we should do. Even the promises will be conditioned by demand. But if we read the Bible as promise, we will find on every page what God is telling us he will do. Even the commands are conditioned by provision.

In Galatians 3 Paul explains which hermeneutic is the correct one. "This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise" (Galatians 3:17-18).

So, if we want to know whether we should read the Bible through the lens of law or promise, demand or provision, burden or gift, command or grace, we can just start reading on page one and see which comes first. And in fact, promise comes first, in God's word to Abram in Genesis 12. Then the law is added later, in Exodus 20. The category "promise" establishes the larger, wraparound framework for everything else added in along the way.

The deepest message of the Bible is the promises of God through grace. The Bible presents itself to us this way. The laws and commands and examples and warnings are all there. We must revere them. But they do not provide the hermeneutic with which we make sense of the whole. We can and should understand them as qualified by God's gracious promise in Christ. Should you want to read the entire article click on this LINK.