Thursday, March 25, 2010

Getting New Insights from God's Word

Axiom: You and I will never reach the bottom of the depth of God's Word.

The Bible is amazing, astounding, with depth and breadth that will occupy our best thinking and most careful analysis and deepest meditation for our entire lives.

Unfortunately, you and me and many of the people we're teaching slip into the attitude of "Yup, studied that, heard that, nothing new here." We're always vulnerable to this arrogance. We're far too willing to be satisfied with whatever past understanding we've had. We're far too willing to treat the Bible as a dead book, rather than a means of continually interacting with the Lord.

Here are some suggested strategies for getting more from God's Word, so you can teach people by bringing them fresh bread every time:

1. Pray: "Lord, teach me anew." Ask God to give you a receptive mind and heart. This needs to happen above all else. And pray for the insights that God wants to you to share and to teach, as well as for your own understanding.

2. Look for patterns and connections. Check out repeated words. Consider the meaning (and what might have been written but was not) for adjectives and adverbs.

3. Use tools like concordances, topical indexes, and Thompson's Chain Reference Bible (my favorite!) to find related passages and ideas.

4. Read aloud. It's amazing what you will notice when you read aloud that you missed when reading silently.

5. Read in reverse order. Take familiar stories and work them backwards. You'll likely spot things you didn't notice before.

6. Read multiple translations of the Bible. Different word choices of the translators can give you new insights and ideas to follow-up on.

So the general strategy is simple: Put yourself in a position to see things afresh. Get your brain in a different mode. God does the rest.

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