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Spiritual Disciplines

I. Introduction

 Probably all of us know the struggle of remaining faithful to the discipline of Bible reading.  We have all gone through seasons of great fruit and seasons of, well, not so great fruit.  At the end of the day, as Barry argued last week, it is simply a discipline that we must labor to be faithful at.  It is part of our ‘working out our own salvation with fear and trembling’ and ‘living lives that are worthy of the gospel’ (as we have been discussing from Philippians on Sunday mornings).  Tonight, I want to talk about a couple of things that will hopefully encourage you in this discipline.  First, a general, overall approach to this discipline (and others).  And second, some different ideas for faithfully studying  the Scriptures.

II.  A Word about our Overall approach: A Continuous Cycle

 Let me just say this to try and simplify your thinking on discipline.  Think of it as a three step, continuous cycle.  First, you must develop a plan (approach, time, goals, etc.).  Second, you must do the plan.  Third, you must evaluate the plan (how is it working, how could it be improved, should I go in a different direction, etc.).  Then, based on your evaluation, you must start the cycle over (develop a new plan, do the plan, evaluate the plan).  This should be a continuous cycle throughout your Christian life.  We should use this for all of the different disciplines in one way or another.  It does not have to be formal, but it needs to be there.

III.  Ideas for (Approaches to) Scripture Reading:

 A.  Follow a reading plan (as ‘The Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan’).
 B.  Use a ‘One Year’ Bible (or ‘Two Year’ Bible, or whatever)
 C.  Use some sort of Study Bible:
  1.  ‘The New Inductive Study Bible’
  2.  ‘The Reformation Study Bible’
  3.  ‘ESV Study Bible’
 D.  Use a ‘bible-centered’ devotional (more Bible than comments) (‘For the Love of God’ by Carson is a good example)
 E.  Journal as you read (as if you were going to teach the passage, or other)
 F.  Use a devotional commentary as you study (‘Let’s Study…’ series, Banner of Truth)
 E.  Other: what have you tried?

IV.  Conclusion:

 I encourage you to try these different approaches as you study the Bible.  If you find yourself in a rut, then try a different approach.  I believe that each approach has strengths and weaknesses, so it’s good to do different ones at different times.  The goal is not just discipline for the sake of discipline, but train yourself for godliness (1 Timothy 4:7-8).  May we be a people who regularly commune with God through His Word, for we will be changed by such communion.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 06 August 2008 )

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