Brad Hedrick spoke in church and shared this:
I grew up in a home environment where the Bible was never discussed – let alone read – by anyone. As most youngsters at that time, I did go to a church, and attended Sunday school. At age 9, I “graduated”, and received my first Bible – a King James Version.
What nine year old can read the King James Version and understand any of it? I have absolutely no recollection of ever making any honest attempt to read it. The cover is in a stage of deterioration, but the inside is pristine.
From then, in 1954, until 2013 my only exposure to the Scriptures was bits and pieces used in sermons I only paid half attention to. I was an avid reader, but not of faith based materials. I read History! – Stories of people who took control and accomplished great things. I spent almost 60 years believing I had all I needed to know, and that I was in control.
In 2013 my spiritual life changed. I attended the Great Banquet. Right in the middle of that experience, God finally got real serious with me, and hit me in the back of my head with a spiritual 2 X 4 to get my undivided attention.
Two things became immediately clear to me. First, I was NOT in control … never had been and never will be. God is in control – and my attitude was really getting in the way. Second, I not only needed to admit my lack of control; I dearly needed to create a positive relationship with God. To do this, I had to learn – pay attention – to God’s messages. I realized that what I had to do – at the very least – was to read the Bible … the whole thing! God was saying, “So you like History? Try reading the History of me … the Bible.”
I was a bit overwhelmed – I had attempted that task once before and failed. So, instead of accepting the blame on myself, I blamed the equipment – the Bible version I had used. I did, thankfully, realize that I needed assistance from somebody. I went to Eric.
I told Eric my story, and admitted that I was intimidated by the huge number of Bible versions available. I asked his recommendation of a good version for me. Eric recommended the Life Application Study Bible. This is the perfect Bible for me.
On the same page as the Bible text itself, there are numerous footnotes that give background to the events, explained the Cultural implications of the time, and made references to other verses in other Books that mirror the passage being read. This Bible, at the beginning of each Book, gives a synopsis of the purpose of that Book, the author, the original audience, the setting, the key verse, key people and key places.
It gave me a historic timeline as I progressed from book to book – from Old Testament to New Testament. It listed at the beginning of each book a time line of the major events before, during, and after the time of that particular book.
In short, this version made it all understandable – tied it all together. It allowed me to see the interconnection of it all – to see the pattern of God’s PLAN. It made reading the Bible entertaining, informative and captivating. I would read, and then think, “Now I understand.” This Bible version made the Scriptures come alive for me – they became relevant. I enjoyed reading it so much, I allocate time in every day when I am reading it, and understanding its message more and more.
Every time I read this book, I am reminded of the tagline for an old TV ad for Prego Tomato Sauce: “It’s In There”. Now I look forward to my daily reading from Moody’s devotional series “Today in the Word”. These add even more insight on what was being related in the Scriptures, and its relevance to me and my spiritual journey.
The pages of this Bible are NOT pristine. Let me tell you folks, the inside of this book is a mess! There are passages highlighted in yellow, there is underlining in green ink, there is underlining in red ink – and the different colors do have significance. There are numerous handwritten notes crammed into the margins. This is a “Used” book!
I am no longer drowning in my own ego. I have found the perfect “life preserver” … Christ. And joy of joys, he comes complete with a detailed “user’s manual”.
Now from the small groups:
This chapter on reading the Bible generated much enthusiastic and soul-searching participation from our Believe group. One big “take away” is that we each would like to read the Bible daily, and have good intentions of doing so – but usually fall short. Different “memory mechanisms” work for different group members. Not one method would work for each of each of us. One member volunteered that, as a young teen, he would read a devotional booklet “Our Daily Bread” each morning before getting ready for school. A quick search of the church (following our evening meeting) produced a worn and well-used copy of “Our Daily Bread”. Let it not be said that the advances in technology have escaped the arena of devotional readings. A swift check of the web led to the Daily Bread web-site – complete with an app that can be downloaded to one’s cellphone. By downloading the app, one can read each day’s devotional, click on the suggested biblical reference and that, too, will appear before one’s eyes. We cannot escape God on this one. If you download the app you can read devotionals and suggested biblical reference at ANY TIME of the day or night right from that little cell phone marvel. Here’s the link; https://www.bing.com/search?q=our+daily+bread&FORM=EDGNNC The rest is between you and God. Happy reading!
The best part of our small group is the open discussions and the prayerrequests at the close. We were blessed to have both speakers from Pastor Eric’s Sunday service in attendance (Brad Hedrick and Bill Jourdan).
Is there a difference between reading the Bible, and “meditating upon it–day and night”? (Joshua 1:8) At times we may read something, but the words are quickly gone from our minds. Or, they are “in one ear, and out the other.” We read that Mary, the mother of Jesus, listened intently to the shepherds, who had received an angelic announcement of the Christ child’s birth. Mary “treasured all these words, and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) We need to continue to think about God’s words, pondering them in our hearts. We can receive continuing, growing nourishment!
Jesus’ parable of the seed–are there times in life when we or others change from hard soil to good? Bill Jourdan and Brad Hedrick shared about having such an experience, January 22.
Great discussion this week! We all recognize that daily Bible study and quiet time with our Lord is important. It renews our spirit and the words in the Bible can lead us through our journey. However, it can be difficult to find the time with busy schedules. There are many distractions that prevent bible study as well. We each made a commitment to begin to make regular bible study a priority in 2017. And….we’re all off to a great start by participating in the BELIEVE group study!