Notes on how to maintain a dynamic personal relationship with God.  Class presented by Dr. John Oakes in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Thoughts on how to have a great personal Bible Study experience.

Example in Numbers 11:4-6.   We never see anything but this manna!   Has the food you eat become somewhat bland to you?    (when I read a spiritual book, I skip through the actual scripture readings).

Q:  How many of you have a time in the Bible, say, at least 5 times a week?

My concern:  some of us do this but make very little progress.

Analogy:  Marriage.  Nowadays, majority end up in divorce; "fall away"  Of those which hang in there, a large majority do just that….   Hang in there.  I want my relationship with God-both Bible study and prayer to be like one of those rare marriages which sparkle after 25 years, which grow like fine wine after 40 years.

I think this sort of thing takes two things:

A. A real and absolute commitment.

B. Hard work.                                 (sounds like repentance and discipleship!)

1.  Love God with all your mind. Luke 10:27 Think.  Ask questions.   Keep a list of difficult questions and do the research until you find those answers.

Do not be lazy intellectually.      Desire to take it deeper.  Heb 5:11-15

A lot of us use up our mental energy at work…. Or maybe when we get home with the family.

Always be prepared to give an answer….

2.  Allow the Holy Spirit to work.  (John 16:12-13)

How do I do that?    Praying.   Hating sin.

3.  Develop David’s Psalm 119 attitude.   Meditating on, loving, Psalm 119:97  Oh, how I love your law!  I meditate on it all day long.

(some practicals below)

praising, 119:72    contemplating,   

emotional   119:53   136    139

Be willing to honor God’s Law (ie to obey it)   Psalm 119:5,9   Putting into practice that day what you read.

4.  For myself….    Have a sense of adventure.     Teach someone….     Write a lesson.     Get a commentary….     Think about things you are not naturally prone to think about.

For me, this is the biggest key.    It is key in the marriage analogy.

Be open-minded so you can be closed-minded.

Do NOT assume that what you were raised with spiritually is true.

But do not be so open-minded that your brains fall out.   Remember those things which are definitely true so that you do not step on land-mines.

Why do we do such and such?

5.  Have a plan.  Plan for variety.  Keep a journal.    Keep track of your progress.      

a.  Just read.   (Chronological Bible, read Bible in a year, different translations)

b.  Deep involved study of a book.

c.  Study out a particular doctrine in detail.  (grace vs. works, predestination)

d.  Side reading:   history, science, philosophy, other religions.

Understand:   The Bible is an incredibly deep well.   You are learning about God.   Be humble please.  Do you realize how deep a well you are plumbing?

6.  Practicals.

a.  Memorize scripture.  Learn locations.  Make your own outlines of books.

b.  Ask the right questions.  Ex.  Is this a command, a principle, or just a practical example of good wisdom.

Ex.  2 Cor 6:14f  Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.

Ex.  The early church met in house churches.

 Ex.  Heb 10:25   Let us not give up meeting together.

c.  Learn how to study the Bible (hermeneutics)   Develop those skills.

(Fee:  How to Study the Bible for all it’s Worth.)

But this lesson is not about the practicals.  It is about having a youthful zeal.  It is about FAITH.   Hebrews 11:1   Faith is….  assurance of what we cannot see.               There is new stuff in there.   New for you anyway.

This is part of why I am not afraid to read things by people with whom I do not agree.    Don’t be afraid.   The awesomeness of the Bible will stand out. 

Our family of churches is not perfect, but what we do holds up pretty well. 

It is a never ending story.  You are part of that story if you are willing to be.

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