October 7, 2009

Walk With Me

?Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them?  (Luke 24:13-15, NIV).

God: My Past, Present, and Future


1549 page28 capS thought I knew what Bible study is and how to do it, but I was wrong.

I used to read God?s Word, a chapter at a time, and compare what I read with the notes I took from sermons. But that?s all I did; I considered that Bible study.

Then I discovered that Jesus should be our teacher. It?s wonderful to hear Bible students speak or teach, but now, instead of reviewing their insights with the Bible, I study for myself. I need to understand the Bible without depending on other people.

I never realized what was missing until I started digging into the Bible. There?s a lot more in Scripture than meets the eye! Digging deeper and personally has given me a closer, more profound relationship with our Creator. I now see more clearly how awesome God is, and how amazing is His plan for us all!

Inductive Bible study sheds light on my life so God can show me where I?ve been, where I am, and where to go.

A Wonderfully Fun Way to Study the Scriptures


1549 page28 capOh, the craziness of life today! Every teeny degree of the compass brings myriads of duties and pleasures to entice or coerce us. All involving time. But we?re encouraged to spend a thoughtful hour each day contemplating, thinking about, and absorbing the beauty and power of the Son of man. I have found that that?s where my safety and sanity lie.

And so I delight in a wonderfully fun way of studying the Scriptures. Of course, many different ways exist, but this manner of studying helps to hold my thoughts captive to Christ.

This morning I immersed myself in the story of Christ?s first public miracle (John 2). A relative of Mary?s was getting married in Cana, and Jesus, along with His new disciples, attended. John tells what happened at that wedding, and the Spirit of Prophecy enlarges on it beautifully in The Desire of Ages, starting on page 144. But what went on behind the scenes? That?s where the fun begins.

1549 page28I talked with God about this first miracle, and replayed the scenes of the story. This time around I became one of the servants--the servant in charge, as a matter of fact.

When Mary summoned me and said to me, ?Whatever He says to you, do it,? I looked into the face of her Son. And He looked at me. My breath suddenly left me as I felt almost a physical reaction to those searching, yet gentle, eyes.

After we had filled the six jars with water, He told me to draw it out and serve it to the master of the banquet. A tumult arose in my heart! Serve water? When they expect wine? Strange desires to protect Mary?s Son from ridicule mingled with the confusing thoughts that tumbled incoherently about in my mind.

I looked again at Jesus. He gazed back at me, a smile twitching at the corner of His mouth. A deep quiet hushed those turbulent thoughts. And I turned and poured the water from a pitcher into the master?s cup.

My hand jerked in shock and surprise, and some of the sparkling, purple liquid spilled onto the master?s sleeve. His eyes swung up at me irritably even as he took a sip from the goblet. Then I was forgotten as he took another sip, then a mouthful. Then he turned to the bridegroom and, almost in awe, praised him handsomely for providing the best wine he had ever tasted in his life.

I stood there transfixed. I myself had poured water into the jar. All I could think was, It was water. Now it?s wine. The richest wine I have ever seen.

I looked around, searching the busy crowd of merrymakers for that Man, Jesus. He had disappeared. But I knew I had to find Him . . .

I encourage you, my friend, to experience holy fun combining three of the world?s most powerful instruments: Scripture, prayer, and imagination.

Why Didn?t Someone Tell Me That Before?


1549 page28 capAs a teaching pastor, I have the privilege of preaching about 100 sermons every year. To some, that might sound like a burden. But it is actually a huge blessing! I have the opportunity to study the Bible for significant blocks of time each week.

I am currently preaching through Paul?s Epistle to the Ephesians, and I came in my Bible study to Ephesians 4:30: ?Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God? (NIV). That verse had always intimidated me. I grew up with the misunderstanding that this word ?grieve? meant to annoy or irritate. After all, the same English word, ?grieve,? was used in the King James Version in Acts 4:2 and Acts 16:18. In both of those contexts, the picture is one of frustration, irritation, and annoyance. But I discovered last week that a different Greek verb is used in Ephesians 4:30. The root meaning of this verb is grieving, as in sorrow or sadness. It?s the same root word used to describe the rich young ruler who went away ?sorrowful? (Matt. 19:22).

1549 page28As I continued my Bible study, a question flashed into my mind: ?What about the word used to describe the anguish of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane? He was exceedingly sorrowful. I turned quickly to Matthew 26:38. What I discovered there filled my heart with wonder! The same root word is used in this verse as is found as a verb in Ephesians 4:30. I was overwhelmed with a deeper appreciation for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not irritated and annoyed when we make unhealthy choices. He is not frowning and scowling, waiting to abandon us at the least provocation. Rather, when we make unhealthy choices, the Holy Spirit experiences sadness. He longs for us to put off the old self that is being corrupted by its evil desires and to be made new. What a revelation! Why didn?t someone tell me that before?

I can?t wait for the next opportunity to study the amazing Word of God! I know that my soul will be refreshed.

His Ambassador


1549 page28 capSt isn?t easy being a Christian in a hostile world, but can you imagine what it?s like to be under attack in your own home? Living with a Buddhist spouse brings a challenge every day, but I have found sanctuary in God?s Word and prayer.

This past spring Jesus sent Lee Gugliotto to our church in Hilo, Hawaii, to introduce our congregation to inductive Bible study. Inductive methods call for me to depend directly on God when I study. I now look forward to time investigating the words of God for myself??because He will be there to teach me. I guess God knows that I need the extra assurance of personal discovery; it?s very hard to defend one?s faith with borrowed insights.

As a cell group leader, I have taught these methods to others in the group, and we have studied the Bible this way ever since. We all look forward to sharing our faith and discoveries with one another.

Recently I offered to be the Bible study leader for Hilo church, to nurture new people, as well as find and recover nonactive members. I want them to spend time experiencing Him rather than me. After all, I?m just His ambassador.

Bible Study: Completing the Circle of Prayer


1549 page8 captudying God?s Word is, for me, like the completing of prayer. Praying is only half the communication, because mostly I?m doing the talking. While God can move upon my heart during prayer, He can reason with me and change my way of thinking as I study His Word. Bible study is wonderful because though I may read a familiar passage or story many times, I will at times find myself deeply impressed by something in that passage that previously I glossed over. Suddenly it becomes personal and applicable to me. This is because when I open His Word, I find that God is waiting to open Himself to me. He is uninhibited in His intimacy with me, graciously inviting me to come to Him, to know Him, and to learn from Him. Often, as He speaks to me through His Word, I am overwhelmed by His graciousness, holiness, and love, and then by my need. He lets me know it is safe in His presence as He speaks to me through His Word. He invites me to honestly look inside myself, and see where I need correction, perspective, healing, and His sanctifying power in my life.

His Word often leads me right back to prayer. Thus the conversation and growing intimacy between the infinite Creator and me are formed, and through these His Spirit unites me with Himself. And I become open to His transforming power in my life.