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601 SFL - Session 2: Essential 1, The Bible

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Teaching notes used at Life Transforming College international - 601, Spiritual Formation and Leadership (SFL).

Teaching notes used at Life Transforming College international - 601, Spiritual Formation and Leadership (SFL).

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  • 1. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life Donald S. Whitney
  • 2. Bible intake... for the purpose of godliness Chapters 2 & 3
  • 3. “No spiritual discipline is more important than the intake of God’s word. Nothing can substitute for it.”
  • 4. The Bible is meat and milk for the believer - in it, God tells us about himself, about Jesus, about the incarnation, about the Law and how we have broken it, about the death and resurrection of Christ, about how to walk in the ways of God, about how to please God... information that is found nowhere else apart from in the Bible. To know God, and to be godly - we must know the Bible intimately.
  • 5. Many believers agree - yet still they neglect to read their Bible, their lips agree with it but their hearts from it. Bible intake is not only the most important spiritual discipline, it is also the most broad consisting of several sub-disciplines.
  • 6. Hearing God’s word This is the easiest of all disciplines - listening to God’s word for example through faithful biblical preaching. Lk 11:28 But [Jesus] said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Listening should lead to obedience! Rom 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. What does this verse mean - how can we ‘hear’ the word of God?
  • 7. Preaching Christian radio / tv Audio - cd, dvd etc. The Internet 1 Tim 4:13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Whitney suggests this verse shows we need to go to church and hear preaching of the WOG there - not just say we can worship God in all that we do. There has been a lot written about how to listen to a sermon...
  • 8. Phil Ryken: “So what is the right way to listen to a sermon?  With a soul that is prepared, a mind that is alert, a Bible that is open, a heart that is receptive, and a life that is ready to spring into action.” Full article can be found here: http://www.reformation21.org/ articles/how-to-listen-to-a- sermon.php
  • 9. Stephen Altrogge suggests, “Through the preaching of God’s word we hear God speak to us in a unique way that is different from when we read the Bible in private. Because of this it’s crucial that we hear the word of God preached and apply it to our lives. Remember Who Is Speaking Listen Intently Listen With Humility Apply The Word A final word. Always pray before you listen to a sermon.”
  • 10. Stephen Altrogge suggests, “Through the preaching of God’s word we hear God speak to us in a unique way that is different from when we read the Bible in private. Because of this it’s crucial that we hear the word of God preached and apply it to our lives. Remember Who Is Speaking Listen Intently Listen With Humility Apply The Word A final word. Always pray before you listen to a sermon.”
  • 11. John Newton explains how we should listen to sermons. “As a hearer, you have a right to try all doctrines by the word of God; and it is your duty so to do. Faithful ministers will remind you of this: they will not wish to hold you in an implicit and blind obedience to what they say, upon their own authority, nor desire that you should follow them farther than they have the Scripture for their warrant. They would not be lords over your conscience, but helpers of your joy. Prize this Gospel liberty, which sets you free from the doctrines and commandments of men; but do not abuse it to the purposes of pride and self.”
  • 12. John Newton explains how we should listen to sermons. “As a hearer, you have a right to try all doctrines by the word of God; and it is your duty so to do. Faithful ministers will remind you of this: they will not wish to hold you in an implicit and blind obedience to what they say, upon their own authority, nor desire that you should follow them farther than they have the Scripture for their warrant. They would not be lords over your conscience, but helpers of your joy. Prize this Gospel liberty, which sets you free from the doctrines and commandments of men; but do not abuse it to the purposes of pride and self.”
  • 13. Newton also explains how we should not listen to sermons: “There are hearers who make themselves, and not the Scripture, the standard of their judgment. They attend not so much to be instructed, as to pass their sentence. To them, the pulpit is the bar at which the minister stands to take his trial before them; a bar at which few escape censure, from judges at once so severe and inconsistent.”
  • 14. Reading God’s word Barna research of US Christians showed: 18% read the bible every day 23% say they never read it Jesus, On numerous occasions quotes the Scripture - Mk 12:10, Lk 4:21, Lk 22:35-37, Jn 7:38, 10:35 etc. Matt 4:4,“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
  • 15. 2 Tim 3:16, All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, Rev 1:3, Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. One survey showed that there is no factor more influential in shaping a persons moral and social behaviour than regular Bible reading. For change to take place - read your Bible!
  • 16. How often should we read our Bibles? How To Enjoy Your Bible by John Blanchard: “Surely we only have to be realistic and honest with ourselves to know how regularly we need to turn to the Bible. How often do we face problems, temptation and pressure? Every day! Then how often do we need instruction, guidance and greater encouragement? Every Day! To catch all these felt needs up into an even greater issue, how often do we need to see God’s face, hear his voice, feel his touch, know his power? The answer to all these questions is the same: every day!”
  • 17. Blanchard goes on to quote DL Moody: “A man can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough today to last him for the next 6 months, nor can he inhale sufficient air into his lungs with one breath to sustain life for a week to come. We are permitted to draw upon God's store of grace from day to day as we need it.”
  • 18. Practical suggestions for regular Bible reading: 1. Find the time - 15 minutes reading per day gets you through the bible in one year! Discipline this use of time - and make sure you do it with good quality time. 2. Find a Bible reading plan - and use it! There are loads online to suit all types of reading habits or styles. 3. Mediate on something you read - a word, phrase, sentence, idea etc.
  • 19. http://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/ http://www.navpress.com/dj/content.aspx?id=138
  • 20. http://www.ligonier.org/blog/bible-reading-plans/ http://www.esvbible.org/Genesis+1/
  • 21. Studying God’s word
  • 22. Studying God’s word “Reading gives us breadth, but study gives us depth.” Jerry Bridges
  • 23. Studying God’s word “Reading gives us breadth, but study gives us depth.” Jerry Bridges Ezra 7:10  For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of theLord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.
  • 24. Studying God’s word “Reading gives us breadth, but study gives us depth.” Jerry Bridges Ezra 7:10  For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of theLord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel. What is the pattern of development in the life of Ezra?
  • 25. Studying God’s word “Reading gives us breadth, but study gives us depth.” Jerry Bridges Ezra 7:10  For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of theLord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel. What is the pattern of development in the life of Ezra? 1. Devoted himself
  • 26. Studying God’s word “Reading gives us breadth, but study gives us depth.” Jerry Bridges Ezra 7:10  For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of theLord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel. What is the pattern of development in the life of Ezra? 1. Devoted himself 2. To the study
  • 27. Studying God’s word “Reading gives us breadth, but study gives us depth.” Jerry Bridges Ezra 7:10  For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of theLord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel. What is the pattern of development in the life of Ezra? 1. Devoted himself 2. To the study 3. And observance
  • 28. Studying God’s word “Reading gives us breadth, but study gives us depth.” Jerry Bridges Ezra 7:10  For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of theLord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel. What is the pattern of development in the life of Ezra? 1. Devoted himself 2. To the study 3. And observance 4. (After 1-3) then he is teaching
  • 29. Acts 17:11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 2 Tim 4:13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments. Paul was in prison soon to die - he wants a coat and the scriptures - note that Paul had seen heaven, the resurrected Christ, known the HSp power and written portions of scripture - yet still he wanted to read, study and learn.
  • 30. So why don’t we study like Paul? RC Sproul has strong words to say: “Here, then, is the real problem of our negligence. We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.”
  • 31. Another problem, apart from laziness, might be insecurity about how or where to study. Whitney says the difference between Bible reading and study is a pen and paper - you simply write down what you observe, questions, cross references, look up key words etc. (If you are really uncertain about it then ask a couple of friends to join with you as you start.) Rick Warren has an excellent book on Bible study techniques - a great starting point and well worth a read.
  • 32. One blog suggests, “Asking these questions when reading a passage in Scripture helps in unpacking the meaning of a passage, in helping you dig deeper into Scripture and leave you having a better understanding of what you read.” 1. Ask “Who?” to find out who the passage was originally written to, who wrote the passage and who are you reading about. 2. Ask “What?” to determine what the author is talking about and what is the main point of the passage.
  • 33. 3. Ask “When?” to learn when was this passage written, when the event that is talked about did or will happen, and when the people written about in the story did something. 4. Ask “Where?” to help you understand where did the story take place, where was the author writing from, where did the people in the passage go and where is this passage placed in the book you are reading as well as in the overall story of Scripture.
  • 34. 5. Ask “Why?” to figure out why the author said something, why did characters did something, and why the passage is there. 6. Ask “How?” to discover how was something accomplished, how is something to be done, how did the people in the passage respond, and how should you respond. http://biblestudyforher.com/five-ws-and-an- h/
  • 35. More application If your growth in godliness were measured by the quality of your Bible intake - what would be the result? John 17:17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. Simply put, the Bible makes you live a more holy life. If your intake is low and / or of poor quality, probably your life in God will be poor too. This should not induce guilt - but should lead us to repent and renew our walk with the Lord and bible reading.
  • 36. Join a Bible study group at church. Listen to sermons online etc. Set goals for reading the Bible each day, month, year... Use a study guide to get you started Think of something - and do it! Make a commitment to do something new so that you might grow in godliness. Imagine: A church member comes to you and asks, “What is the best thing I can do to improve my intake of God’s word?”
  • 37. Join a Bible study group at church. Listen to sermons online etc. Set goals for reading the Bible each day, month, year... Use a study guide to get you started Think of something - and do it! Make a commitment to do something new so that you might grow in godliness.
  • 38. “Do not expect to master the Bible in a day, or a month, or a year. Rather expect often to be puzzled by its contents. It is not all equally clear. Great men of God often feel like absolute novices when they read the Word. The apostle Peter said that there were some things hard to be understood in the epistles of Paul (2 Peter 3.16). I am glad he wrote those words because I have felt that often. So do not expect always to get an emotional charge or a feeling of quiet peace when you read the Bible. By the grace of God you may expect that to be a frequent experience, but often you will get no emotional response at all.
  • 39. ...Let the Word break over your heart and mind again and again as the years go by, and imperceptibly there will come great changes in your attitude and outlook and conduct. You will probably be the last to recognize these. Often you will feel very, very small, because increasingly the God of the Bible will become to you wonderfully great. So go on reading it until you can read no longer, and then you will not need the Bible any more, because when your eyes close for the last time in death, and never again read the Word of God in Scripture you will open them to the Word of God in the flesh, that same Jesus of the Bible whom you have known for so long, standing before you to take you for ever to His eternal home.” Geoffret Thomas
  • 40. Memorising God’s word: Benefits and methods Why are people unwilling and so poor at doing it? Whitney notes that if you offered people $1,000 per verse they memorised for a week then they would do it willingly - yet the benefits of memorising scripture are far greater than mere money.
  • 41. Memorising God’s word: Benefits and methods Why are people unwilling and so poor at doing it? Whitney notes that if you offered people $1,000 per verse they memorised for a week then they would do it willingly - yet the benefits of memorising scripture are far greater than mere money. How many Bible verses do you have memorised? How many have you memorised in the last week / month / year? “Many Christians look on the discipline of memorising as something tantamount to modern-day martyrdom.”
  • 42. Memorisation supplies spiritual power Verses stored in your mind are there available for HSp to use at any time - Ps 119:11, I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Col 3:22 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. This verse might be useful when you are looking at, or thinking of, something you know is not the will of God. Remember that Jesus used the WOG to defeat satan in the wilderness
  • 43. Memorisation strengthens your faith Proverbs 22:17-19 Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips. So that your trust may be in the Lord, I teach you today, even you. Often we find that when we are tempted to doubt or to be discouraged the words of Scripture give us strength and renew our faith
  • 44. Memorisation and witnessing and counselling Acts 2 Peter proclaimed the words of Joel and other OT scriptures - how? He had memorised them and they were then used in proclaiming the Gospel Often in our witnessing or in counselling other people the words of the Bible are more reliable, and more powerful, than our own words and ideas.
  • 45. A means of God’s guidance Psalm 119:24Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors. What if you don’t know what to say in a situation? Remember Eph 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
  • 46. Memorisation stimulates meditation Once a verse is memorised it can be meditated upon at any time and in any place - it is always available. Ps 119:97 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Many people know only a few “popular” verses - Jn 3:16, Gen 1:1 - but for the powerful sword of the Spirit to be more effective in resisting temptation, giving guidance we need a wider range of materials to choose from.
  • 47. How to memorise scripture 1. Know you can do it - you memorise all sorts of things it is simply a case of working hard at it 2. Have a plan - use a plan developed by someone else (there are lots available) or choose a topic and memorise 10 verses on that, then move onto another etc. 3. Write them out - separate pages or cards for each one 4. Be creative - e.g. you might draw pictures to help you
  • 48. 5. Be word perfect in your memorisation of it. 6. Be accountable - often doing it with a friend brings accountability and stickability 7. Review and meditate every day - when learning a language a key is in using and reviewing new words, it is the same in Bible memorisation. 8. Allow transformation of you to come through the verses, Dallas Willard has said,
  • 49. “As a pastor, teacher, and counselor I have repeatedly seen the transformation of inner and outer life that comes simply from memorization and meditation upon Scripture. Personally, I would never undertake to pastor a church or guide a program of Christian education that did not involve a continuous program of memorization of the choicest passages of Scripture for people of all ages.” Dallas Willard
  • 50. Meditating on God’s word: Method and benefits Meditation is biblical - we are told to do it and shown some models. Christian meditation involves filling our mind with God’s words - not emptying our mind as in other religions - it is a positive, constructive technique for edifying the believer. “Meditation is deep thinking on the truths and realities revealed in scripture for the purpose of understanding, application and prayer.”
  • 51. Whitney likens it to a cup of tea: You are the cup of hot water - the intake of scripture is the tea bag. Hearing God’s word is like dipping the tea bag in once - some flavour and colour can be seen/tasted. Soaking and further plunging of the bag into the water is like reading, studying and memorising the scriptures. This has an increased effect on flavour and colour. Meditation is when the tea bag is immersed completely until all the flavour and colour are taken into the water.
  • 52. Joshua 1:8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. There is a link between success (in God’s terms) and meditation. In such meditation the scriptures will permeate all of your being and your conversation - and will result in the right godly actions.
  • 53. Psalm 39:3While I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: Remember Jer 23:29 - it is as if my meditation we fan into flame the burning fire of the WOG - which then gives off more heat and more light. Why is your Bible reading so cold and you lack spiritual success? Thomas Watson suggests, “The reason we come away so cold from reading the Word is because we do not warm ourselves at the fire of meditation.”
  • 54. Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers. We think most about what we delight in - meditation helps us to think and drink more deeply on God.
  • 55. Note the progression in Psalm 119:98-99 Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. His great wisdom comes from meditation. In our day there is more information (distractions) available to us than at any other time in the history of the earth - we have information in a newspaper that is greater than that encountered by an 18th century person in their whole lifetime.
  • 56. Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.
  • 57. How do we meditate in a Christian manner? 1. Select an appropriate passage - perhaps something that took your attention during your reading - something that is appropriate to your life situation - something that will help you deal with temptation you are facing - something that focusses your heart and mind upon God and who he is
  • 58. 2. Repeat it in different ways, Jn 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life.” “I am the resurrection and the life.” “I am the resurrection and the life.” “I am the resurrection and the life.” “I am the resurrection and the life.” “I am the resurrection and the life.” “I am the resurrection and the life.” As you say it each time you should think deeply upon the idea, the truth or light, that flashes into your mind. Such insights often come slowly!
  • 59. 3. Rewrite it in your own words Paraphrasing a verse often helps you to go deeper as you search for understanding and meaning in the text. Think of synonyms, look at the order of words etc. 4. Look for applications of the text Meditation is incomplete until it results in action - and worship. Ask “what should I do as a result of this verse?”
  • 60. 5. Pray through the text Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. John 14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. As we read and meditate we should also be praying the text, asking for greater illumination - this then moves us further into application.
  • 61. 6. Don’t rush - take time Reading too fast often results in us remembering nothing (or very little) Maurice Roberts, “Our age has been sadly deficient in what may be termed spiritual greatness.  At the root of this is the modern disease of shallowness.  We are all too impatient to meditate on the faith we profess…
  • 62. It is not the busy skimming over religious books or the careless hastening through religious duties which makes for a strong Christian faith......Rather, it is unhurried mediation on gospel truths and the exposing of our minds to these truths that yields the fruit of sanctified character” Read less - and meditate more Give more time to your reading and meditating
  • 63. Applying God’s word: Benefits and methods For many people there is a great difficulty in applying the Bible into contemporary situations - how to raise my children, how to act at work, making good decisions. 1. The value of applying Gods word James 1:22-25 John 13:17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
  • 64. 2. Expect to discover an application If God wants you to do his word then you can be sure he will want you to find the application Thomas Watson encouraged us, “Take every word as spoken to yourselves. When the word thunders against sin, think thus: ‘God means my sins;’ when it presseth any duty, ‘God intends me in this.’ Many put off Scripture from themselves, as if it only concerned those who lived in the time when it was written; but if you intend to profit by the word, bring it home to yourselves: a medicine will do no good, unless it be applied.”
  • 65. 3. Understand the text Knowing the context is important in hermeneutics. In order to follow Watson’s advice we need to ensure we know what it meant for the initial people it was written to - think, if you took all the words said to Abraham and applied them literally, you would have to move to Israel! But we can use the text to help ask questions about our obedience to what God has told us to do in our lifetime. E.g. with promises - are they a general, universal principle or specific to the person and time?
  • 66. 4. Meditate to discern application Meditation is not an end in itself - application must follow. The memorised wog becomes the applied wog through meditation. The wog has to be held in our brains for a while - this is what meditation does. It then can be applied to the real day-to-day situations of life.
  • 67. 5. Ask application orientated questions of the text Questions are a great aid in meditation - and lead us into application - e.g. Does the text reveal something I should believe about God? Does it reveal something I should praise or worship God for? Is there something I should pray about for me or others? Does it reveal a problem with my thinking? Does it show something I should do?
  • 68. 6. Respond specifically As a result of meditation there should be at least one specific response you make - faith act, worship, praise, prayer, ask for forgiveness, repentance etc. It is always important to ask yourself if you can remember what you have read, and have discerned application of the truth in your life.
  • 69. More application Will you begin a plan of memorisation? Will you cultivate the discipline of meditating on God’s word? Will you prove yourself a “doer” of the Word?
  • 70. J. I. Packer writes: “If I were the devil...one of my first aims would be to stop folk from digging into the Bible...How? Well, I should try to distract all clergy from preaching and teaching the Bible, and spread the feeling that to study this ancient book directly is a burdensome extra which modern Christians can forgo without loss...At all costs I should want to keep them from using their minds in a disciplined way to get the measure of its messages.”

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