Redeeming the time. “Oh, Father! This is Yours! Help me get these ideas in order. This is the fourth revision. . . “ I looked at the marked-up pages spread across the desk, on top of an open Amplified and New International Bible and, once again, began at the first page. Thirty minutes later, the printer hummed, I stacked the fresh pages in the center of the desk, put crackers and a bit of chocolate into two baggies and headed out the door for pickup. In the car, I recited “Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8 . . . .” At stoplights, I glanced at the index card I kept tucked in the console, my memory work this week while in the car. As I waited in the line of cars at the elementary school, I prayed. I prayed for salvation for the children and for Divine protection from Satan’s vicious attacks.
Are you feeling the same sense of urgency to be about our Father’s business? As godlessness increases day by day, desire to do my part in the battle intensifies. I hear reports of revival fires already springing up and I eagerly await the great outpouring of the Holy Ghost that prophets have said is coming soon. I want to be doing my part now, and I want to be ready for what is coming.
For months, prophets have urged us to draw closer to God—now. We need ears that hear Him clearly when He starts judging the evil and evil-doers now seeking to destroy all that is godly. Deep, diligent Bible study is essential to develop hearing ears, so I began writing about that. As usual, the topic expanded as I searched the Word for guidance, so this is the first of several writings. Why, you may ask, is diligent Bible study so essential right now?
We must study the Bible diligently now because:
 God says to. That alone is far more than enough.
 We need God’s peace to withstand the evil attacking our nation and our world. With lyin’ Biden, who stole the election, leaving hundreds, possibly thousands, of American citizens and allies behind in Afghanistan to be tortured and murdered by radical extremists; giving $85 billion worth of military equipment to terrorists; launching an all-government push to keep allowing millions of babies to be murdered; threatening to require everyone in the nation to wear face diapers and get an injection whether they want it or not while letting thousands of illegals—untested for covid—cross our southern border; with radical leftists seeking to pass legislation that would allow children as young as five to choose gender-changing surgery; with a homosexual choir singing “We are coming for your children”; with teachers embracing critical race theory. . . and I will stop there.
Can you truly say, and know in your heart, that—even in all these things–we are more than conquerors? (Romans 8:37) You can IF you have the peace that comes from knowing God is still in control, nothing has taken Him by surprise, He will preserve His children no matter what, and He WILL make all this “work together and fit into a plan for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.” (Romans 8:28, AMPC).
<<Truths like that must be heart knowledge, hidden inside my
inmost being, so that Satan cannot steal, kill, or
destroy those truths and so that the world cannot twist or pervert them and
so that my own flesh cannot tarnish them. >>
 We must be ready. God has already begun the greatest world-wide revival of all time. He needs believers prepared to share Bible truths and His wisdom with fledgling converts and returning prodigals. To do that, we must have genuine faith, faith that comes from understanding what God says. And that understanding comes from the Word (Romans 10:17). We must be “. . . made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21, NIV). We must be ready to explain why we believe and hope in God (I Peter 3:15), to explain how God wants us to live day by day, and to explain how to engage in spiritual battle. That requires diligent, persistent Bible study.
<<Living by and skillfully sharing Bible truths is not
an option in our present world.>>
I strongly urge you to read the book “Vessels of Fire and Glory” by Mario Murillo. You will understand what God is doing in our world and why we must get ready—now—to be used by God. We must have hearing ears, and we must let God make us holy, devoted to and prepared for His service. How? One essential step is letting Him wash us with water through the Word (Ephesians 5:26).
Are you being washed thoroughly? Daily? Letting God clean us up through the Word requires diligent effort. Does a three-year-old child get clean by sprinting through a garden hose once? No, that little child needs to sit in a tub of water—for several minutes–while the loving parent washes arms and legs as well as inside ears, between tiny toes and under chubby necks encrusted with dust and sweat. Little children need a serious bath. God’s little children need serious Bible study!
<<Life-cleansing Bible study requires diligence>>.
One method of diligent Bible study. If you already diligently study the Word – press on! You may not need this writing. But if not, know that diligent Bible study will help you: (1) draw forth meanings missed during casual reading or study, (2) see specific things God wants you to do, and (3) hide the Word in your inmost being.
Listed below are the first five guidelines for one way of diligent Bible study. I pray it helps your Bible study be maximally fruitful. Anything less than diligent, systematic Bible study–as I learned the hard way—deprives us of God’s best.
The first five guidelines are:
A. Do read the Bible through each year.
B. But do not just read – STUDY.
C. And do not just study—study FOR YOURSELF.
D. And do not just study for yourself—study IN YOUR AREAS OF NEED.
E. Let Holy Spirit teach you—DIRECTLY!
Let’s look at the first two guidelines.
[Guideline A] Do read the Bible through–repeatedly. I once heard a Bible teacher unintentionally downplay the importance of reading the Bible through repeatedly. The teacher was stressing that we must not merely read but study the Bible. I wholeheartedly agree! I also believe, in addition, that it is essential to read the entire Bible through repeatedly, throughout your life. Each word of the Bible is put there by God–on purpose. You can find many different Bible-in-a-year plans, which I recommend if you are now reading through the entire Bible for the first time. Such plans include passages from the Old and New Testaments and, usually, the Psalms. If you have never at least once read through the entire Bible, all I can say is GET BUSY!
I recall, as a new convert, referencing the beautiful nature passages in Job I had read for the first time and being stunned to hear that the person I was speaking with, who had known Jesus for decades, had never even read Job. Fortunately, God instilled a burning desire to study the whole Bible even back then so that particular believer’s disobedience did not lead me along a similar path of neglecting the whole of God’s Word. Yes, some books are hard to understand but God will teach you if you just try (as we will talk about later).
Getting the basics. One reason we need to keep going through the entire Bible is so that we hear the basic doctrines of our faith, at least briefly, once a year. Martin Luther required his pastors to “preach every biblical doctrine within a year.” (Vessels of Fire and Glory, p. 80). I know from experience it is too easy to stay in our favorite books or passages and, in so doing, greatly harm ourselves and grieve God. And unfortunately, I also know from experience that not every pastor follows Martin Luther’s requirement. Unless you plan for it, you will likely NOT hear or read the entire Bible in your lifetime, not even once. How dare we neglect what so many have given their lives for, most of all, Jesus Himself!
After you have read the Bible through a few times, as the Lord leads, you could keep going with the same or a similar plan. You could also make your own plan to, for example, read some chapters from the Old and some from the New Testament each day as well as Psalms and Proverbs. You can quickly see, however, that you need a definite, written, systematic plan to keep you on track. Write your plan down and keep it updated.
Read attentively. Besides reading the entire Bible, it is essential to read attentively, not merely dashing through the daily chapters. Develop the habit of pausing to reflect, while you read and after you finish that day’s reading. Reading lessons for children include reading comprehension exercises, where students must reflect upon what they read and answer questions about it. I need the same to help me focus.
<<Stop and talk with God about what
He means in those verses you are reading.>>
It is certainly preferable to read through the entire Bible every year. Doing that as well as deep studying will take an investment of time, of course, and perhaps much more than you now set aside. I ask you: which is more important, hearing God or being entertained two or three hours each evening? If you have obligations like childcare or work that truly do take most hours of your day, ask and God will make time for your Bible reading and study. Perhaps you can do your Bible “reading” by listening during chores or driving time and do Bible study in the time God helps you carve out. You are asking for something in complete accordance with His will; He WILL answer, as He says in I John 5:14-15.
SPECIAL NOTE HERE: If you are a new believer, I recommend the Bible reading plan Dr. Timothy LaHaye presents in his book “How to Study the Bible for Yourself.” Dr. LaHaye’s plan points the young Christian to which of the 1190 chapters in the Bible are especially important for new believers. The entire plan is given in Chapter Five. I recommend getting your own copy of this book, because it is filled with excellent advice. Pastor LaHaye passed away in 2016, at the age of 90, and I personally owe him a great debt for writing just this book alone. It pointed my newly-converted heart in the right direction regarding Bible study. Below is his recommended Bible reading plan for the first year of a new Christian’s life.
> First John seven times
> John twice
> Mark twice
> Galatians through Philemon
> The New Testament twice
Dr. LaHaye gives a plan for the second and third year as well. I say: GET THE BOOK! It also includes excellent chapters about how to study the Bible.
[Guideline B] Do not just read – STUDY! Make time for Bible study daily, if at all possible. We get out of anything according to what we put into it. We find more of God—His strength, His power, His love, His wisdom, and His presence– in His Word—IF we give our utmost effort. God tells us in 2 Timothy 2:15:
Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.“ (AMPC).
This well-known verse tells me that I have reason to be ashamed if I do not do my very best to analyze, divide and handle the Word properly and skillfully – and I cannot do that if I only read.
<<Actual studying—as opposed to mere reading–involves
a level of effort beyond mere reading.>>
Beginning learners just read sentences and learn facts put in careful order by someone else. Successful high school students study. They concentrate and devote much time and effort to understanding sentences and paragraphs in their chemistry book. Why? They know they must conduct successful experiments in the lab to pass the course.
Even many superficial read-throughs will not earn a passing grade when the test requires application, wherein that student must understand why and how, when and where, etc. Applying knowledge, or facts, requires study. It requires interacting with that knowledge, and how to use it, not just hearing or reading about it.
<<We often fail tests in our walk with Christ if
we do not go beyond merely reading the Word.>>
ANOTHER SPECIAL NOTE HERE: If you have never specifically done so, I recommend studying the chapters listed below (on page 86 of Dr. LaHaye’s book.) These chapters are essential for Christians to master.
- Ephesians 5
- Galatians 5
- John 14-17
- Romans 6, 8, and 12
- I Timothy 2
- Ephesians 4, 6
- And I would add Acts 1, 2 and 10
After these chapters listed above, if you have not identified more chapters to prioritize, Dr. LaHaye offers a second list as follows:
- John 1, 3-5
- Matthew 5-7, 13, 24-25
- Matthew 26-28
- John 11-12, 18-21
- Acts 23
I Corinthians 6, 15
- 2 Corinthians 4-6
- Proverbs 3
- Psalms 1, 27, 37
Have you digested First John? And if you have never done so, regardless of how long you have known Jesus, I strongly urge you to first read the little book of First John straight through seven times. And then thoroughly study it. One key purpose of the book is to reassure those who have eternal life that they are indeed saved from hell. It will also show you if you have not truly made Jesus your personal Lord and Savior.
It is a meaty book, it will enhance your discernment, and it will give you talking points of pure gold.
Next time. Next time we will explore how to study the Bible for yourself, in your areas of need, with Holy Spirit directly teaching you.
Be blessed, fellow pilgrim, as we press on, with the lamp of God’s Word illuminating our path and the light of His Word illuminating the path ahead. (Psalm 119:105)