Tag Archive: Bible study

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by truth.” -1 John 1:5-6

“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in darkness.” 1 John 2:9

P1030210 by Dan Hatton

Disclaimer: I am not preaching and this is in no way meant to speak to anyone specific–with the exception of myself. As Beth Moore says, I can only teach you what God is teaching me. If it resonates with you, then I praise God, that He would use me to work in your life. But it is Him and not me that must do the true teaching.

We’re going to start with the obvious.

God is light.

Even though it the verse above states it, this fact bears repeating. God is light. He makes the sun look like a 60 watt lightbulb. The moon doesn’t even stand a chance. And the stars? Forget about the stars. You can’t see them, He’s that bright. He washes everything out. In the Greek the word used here is Phos, meaning light…the light. There is no other light like this light. Just like there is no other God like our God. He is light is it’s purest essence. He defines what light is.

And what darkness is.

There are two words used in these verses to refer to darkness. Skotia and skotos. Obviously these are conjugates of each other, so the meanings are simlar. But it’s the subtle differences that God loves to use. Skotia, which is used in verse 5 and 9, refers to wickedness or “the darkness due to want of light”. Basically, a life without God. Skotos is darkness. Used in verse 6, it can also mean “persons [or a person] in whom darkness becomes visible and holds sway”. Here it isn’t talking about just wickedness. It’s talking about people who claim to be of the light and of God, but for some reason or another have strayed, leaving God’s presence wanting in their life. People who are held by darkness, not light.

Now I’ve read 1 John before. And I’ve read over those first two verses many times in the last couple weeks (my Bible study plan has me focus on one segment of scripture for the duration of a month). Each time my thoughts have been, “Praise God, I’m in the light and not the darkness”. Because I have been born again. I am a new creation in Christ. My thought is that most Christians think like I did. I mean, yes, I sin. Yes, I make mistakes, but God is faithful and just to forgive me when I come to him in repentance. In my mind, darkness…let’s just name him for what he is, Satan had no stronghold in my mind. He could try and cause me to doubt, but my faith is strong because my strength is not my own. I couldn’t see where he was sinking his little hooks in and truly trying to separate me from my Lord.

This morning, 1 John 2:9 hit me like a slap in the face. “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in darkness.”

I’m sorry, what!

Now, brother in this verse can be taken to mean fellow man. So, God’s not talking (specifically) about your brother–the one that stole your Barbies and spent most of his childhood making airplane noises (though this does apply to him too). He’s talking about that guy that cuts you off in traffic. The lady in the next cubicle that talks a little too loud. The boss/co-worker/customer/acquaintance that just rubs you that wrong way. That’s who he is talking about.

I would say that I don’t outright hate anyone (not anyone real at least, with fictional characters it’s a different story). I get along with most people…and I tolerate those few who I don’t particularly like. I smile. I nod. I hold my tongue. But in my head, I’m thinking “I can’t believe, grumble grumble grumble grumble and they are a complete creative-dergatory-non-cuss-word-type-phrase”. My thoughts are not always nice and pleasant. And I knew, that it wasn’t exactly godly. That thinking mean and ugly things about others is not nice, because God loves them anyways. So I should to.

But today, it was like there was this glowing line linking these two verses together. The Holy Spirit showed me a connection, not only between the two verses, but between the verses and my own life.

These nasty thoughts, or as a pastor friend of mine, this stinkin’ thinkin’ was/is a stronghold of the devil in my life. It is something that he is using to drive me away from the person God wants me to be. God has called me to love as He loves. He has called me to be His light unto the world. And I can’t be that, can’t be a part of Him, if there is any darkness in my life. (Am I scaring you yet?)

And stinkin’ thinkin’ is skotos.

And it’s scary. Because it is in me. I can flee from sinful people and sinful situations. I can get the heck outta dodge and escape the temptation. But my thoughts are in my head. And as many days as I wish, I could remove my brain from my head and just not have to think period, I’m pretty sure it’s not good for my health. No, escaping stinkin’ thinkin’ is hard. It requires real work. It require repentance and changing the way I think.

Changing the way I think.

I’m sorry, but sometimes, it takes me a little bit of time to realize that I’m thinking the way I’m thinking. Sometimes I catch it a little faster than others. Sometimes, I still dwell on the nasty thought and let it build into something really ugly.

And that means that it is also going to require discipline.

I have to die to myself in my thought life. It requires putting my pride and feelings away. Because they get in the way. Nobody wants to admit that they are wrong, or that their feelings have been hurt. But I cannot let these things drive me if I want to love the way God loves.

Because that is the only way to love as God loves is to see through His eyes. And I can’t see through His eyes if I’m too busy massaging my bruised pride with angry, ugly, skotos thoughts. It don’t work. It’s like trying to use a hammer to clean a window. You end up with a painful mess. You lose friends and coworkers and employees and customers.

I end up bitter and holding a grudge that I didn’t mean to hold.

So it’s time for me to repent. To ask God to give the strength and discipline (which means that He will try me so that they develop within me) to stop the nasty thoughts the moment they enter my head. I can’t always help the thoughts that come into my head. But I can keep from dwelling on them and letting them become sin. And with God’s help and this thing called Grace, I can change the way that I do think and become that much more like him.


Morning Study by Garrett Crawford

Let’s face it. As fascinating and exciting as the Bible can be sometimes, we don’t always get all that much out of it. I’ll admit that some days I feel like all I’m doing is reading words on a page. But I found that with a few suggestions, I have made those times fewer. So now I am passing that on to you.

First, I know this is going to seem really, really obvious, but make sure you begin your Bible study time in prayer. I know, DUH! But I didn’t used to and sometimes I get so focused on what I’m supposed to be doing that I still forget to. Prayer is more than just saying “Hey God, please fill my head with knowledge so that I can scrape through this day”, it also stills your mind and helps you focus on what your time with God. Maybe a few calming breaths at the end too,  just for good measure. Let all that stress and everything that has to get done fall away until it’s just you and God.

Secondly, always have a notebook and pencil nearby. This is absolutely necessary for me, because how I study the Bible requires underlining, making notes and then putting all of that together into a daily entry (more on that in a minute). But even if you don’t have a specific method, the notebook serves two purposes. One: It gives you a place to write down anything that is revealed to you as you read. My old Bible journals have all kinds of little references to verses and what God was telling me through them. I also used it to jot down questions. Two: it provides a place to write your prayers down. Not only does this help me to truly get my burdens off of my chest, it also it kind of fun. I can look back and see a difference between how and what I prayed about then and now. The pencil, besides being a writing tool, well, it just makes me feel smarter.

Have your planner or something to write down anything that tries to distract you. The devil will do anything he can to keep us from connecting with God–even use legitimate reasons. Need to do the laundry? Write it down. Did you forget to turn in a paper on Blackboard? Write it down. Trust me, the dirty clothes will still be there and the paper will not disappear from your computer if you don’t turn it in (Although, if it’s due in a few minutes, I’m sure God will understand).

Speaking of distractions: If you can, attempt to remove yourself from them. It’s not always easy to remove the distractions from the room, but it is possible to move yourself. Make sure the dog is taken out (yes, Mom, I put that one in there just for you), that the children are fed or sleeping, and maybe let the others in your house know to please not disturb you unless someone is dying/bleeding. This isn’t always possible…I’ve carried out many early morning Bible studies during my break at work, but the less I have to block out, the easier it is to focus.

You don’t have to have fancy books and dictionaries with the original Greek and Hebrew. I love using these resources when I can get my hands on them, but quality Bible study time is dependent more on how much effort you put into it than how many books you have to reference. That’s not saying that you shouldn’t learn what you can, try to figure out a method of your own. It might take a while or you might have to come up with a hybrid version of several.

My daily devotions have developed over the last three years, from simply reading through my Bible plan to focusing on one idea from my daily text and writing about it. Some of you may already be familiar with Wayne Cordeiro’s S.O.A.P. method (or at least, he’s more or less the one I got is from), but for those who aren’t I will briefly go over it. I’ve found that it’s has helped me get more and apply more of what I read. The acronym S.O.A.P. stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer and it’s a method to help focus a great deal of text into one daily application to take away from your time with the Lord. This is only a brief description. I highly suggest reading Wayne Cordeiro’s book, The Divine Mentor, for more—this is only one part of the book, he has a lot of wisdom to pass on.

Scripture: Highlight or mark any scriptures that jump out at you, anything that feels like God is speaking to you.

Observation: Of those scriptures that stood out, pick one. What exactly is it telling you? What can you take away  from it?

Application: How does what you’ve focused on today apply to you specifically? Write down what you it is you think you need to do or learn. And here’s the hard part, you actually need to do/apply it.

Prayer: Pretty self-explanatory I think. I try to thank God for his instruction that day and for other blessings in my life. As someone once told me, “Thankful people are rarely bitter people.”

There is no hard, fast rule about Bible study. It is specific to each person. I’ve discovered what works for me…now it’s time for you to find out what works for you.

Old Books by Dan Klimke

It’s there. On your shelf. Or on your bedside table. It might be a little dusty. It might get taken down once a week. If you’re really smart, you open it up much more often than that. If you’re really smart, you study your Bible daily. Some days I’m really smart. Other days…not so much.

I started trying to learn more about Bible study probably two years ago. It started with Tim LaHaye’s How to Study Your Bible and lead me to enrolling in a Bible study course being taught by the pastor of my church in Gainesville. That’s where I stumbled upon my current method of Bible study. The SOAP method. If you want to know more about it, I suggest reading Wayne Cordeiro’s The Divine Mentor where he talks about it in great detail. It is a book that I would recommend to anyone looking to improve or change up their Bible study routine. But that’s a whole other post.

This post is for those who don’t think that daily Bible study is important or who are like I was: I knew how important it was, but I just didn’t know how to get anything out of it.

In Proverbs 1:7, Solomon states: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” (HCSB). My translation is this, “Getting saved is just the first step.” A very important first step, because you can read your Bible religiously and not be saved (though I imagine that it would be difficult), but still only a first step. It’s enough to get you into heaven, but it doesn’t really allow you to know God in the ways that specific study of God’s word does. David points out how important daily Bible study is in the Psalms.

“I will praise You everyday; I will honor Your Name forever and ever.” Psalm 145:2 (HCSB)

He didn’t praise God when he felt like it. Or when everything was going his way. If you read the Psalms, he praises God even in the middle of tragedy. Even when he could be blaming God for taking his son, David praises the Lord as he repents. I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of person I want to be. And David was that way because he spent daily time with God. Like the Psalm says: “I will praise You every day.”

This little Bible sitting next to me is 1,551 pages of God talking to me. Or promptings for the Holy Spirit to speak to me.

And if David taking out daily time to be with God wasn’t enough for you. Think about this, Jesus did the same thing. In Luke 15:16 it said that Jesus took time out of his day to talk with his Father.

I understand, life is busy. We have SO much pulling at our attention. Which makes it even more important to take some time out, sit down and get our head on straight. Before we have to deal with all of the crud that the world throws at us. On the days that I study my Bible, I find that I am more joyful, more patient, more loving and just a much nicer person to be around in general. Life may not actually BE any easier, but it sure feels it. But it first required me to make time for my Bible study. I have a busy day, I spend probably two-and-a-half to three hours of each day driving to and from Lakeland. Things don’t always get done, but I try hard to make sure that my daily devotions is one of them.

I’m not of the camp that says, you must get up at 6 a.m. and do your Bible study first thing. It kind of helps for you to actually be awake for you to get anything out of that day’s devotions. So maybe you get up and go jogging, exercise a little, take your shower and then sit down with your Bible and a notebook over breakfast (that’s my thing). I do encourage you to put your devotions as early in your day as you can, but I know that first thing isn’t always feasible. Nor does everyone operate at their best in the morning.

If you don’t read your Bible at all, I strongly recommend doing a Google search for free Bible reading plans to get yourself started and in the habit. There are ways to get the most out of your Bible study time, like keeping a notebook nearby to jot down observations/questions or having a method for studying your Bible, but I will address those in another post. The important thing is to start making reading your Bible a part of your daily life. God never asks more of us than we can handle, and He’s been more than willing to encourage me in baby steps–so I think the same goes for you.

Because you will see a change in your walk with God. The Bible is the main way God speaks to us (not to say that we can’t hear his voice audibly, it’s just a little less likely nowadays). And the more time you spend one-on-one with God, learning lessons from the people who have gone before us, the easier it will be when the devil comes with his little voice and tries to whisper in your ear.

So go. Blow the dust off of your Bible. Flip through it’s pages, inhale the musty scent. Stop making it into the center piece of your coffee table and turn it into the centerpiece of your life.

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