Habits

We are creatures of habit. In spite of all of our desires to be free and spontaneous, most of us follow a fairly predictable set of routines. We get up at the same time every morning, we get dressed in the same order every morning, we drive the same route to work every day and when we get home, we just reverse the process. Now, habits are not bad things in and of themselves.

Habits help us get through our days without having to use all of our brain power on the details of life. Can you imagine how slow you would be if you had to think about tying your shoes or brushing your teeth, or how to use a keyboard to get this blog typed? You would be shut down, overwhelmed by the minutiae of life. Habits also remind our bodies and minds that we are about to do something. You sit down at the table and you are reminded it is time to eat. You lie down in bed and it’s time to sleep. You get the picture. Bible study can also be supported by habit. The first habit is to find a place where you feel comfortable and start showing up there everyday at the same time.

The place could be your favorite chair, at your kitchen table, perhaps at your desk…but find a place that is quiet and where you can spend at least 30 minutes in reflection, prayer and study. You may have to get up earlier or stay up later, but this will become the most important part of your day, so make whatever adjustments you have to make. Try it one way and if that doesn’t work, try another until you find a time and place that works for you. Then—and this is hard part—show up! Everyday! Show up!

When you are getting started the whole point is to just show up. Everyday, show up and drill into your life the habit of getting ready to study. If you start showing up, Jesus will too.

The Value of Memorizing Scripture

In the temptation story of Jesus in the wilderness, Jesus responds by quoting Scripture from memory.

He doesn’t argue with Satan. He doesn’t debate. Jesus defeats Satan’s attacks by quoting Scripture.

The wilderness temptation of Jesus is important to believers at several points.

First, Jesus reminds us that all of us will be tempted. Second, Jesus shows us that the best ammunition against temptation is Scripture and last, Jesus was already prepared for the battle. He knew Satan would challenge Him and He was prepared for the moment.

Now, like Jesus, we too will be challenged by the enemy. We know it is coming. We may not know when or how the attacks will come, but we do know they are coming…so get ready.

How do we prepare for these coming attacks? We follow Jesus and we memorize Scripture. Where do we begin? Perhaps we should start with the story of the temptation in Luke 4:1-13. Here are some other passages every believer should know: Psalm 23 Matthew 5:1-12 John 3:16 Matthew 6:33 Philippians 2:5-11

There are more, but this list will get you started. Yes, it takes some time, but in the battles of life, knowing these passages and other passages from Scripture will be your strength and courage for the fight. Jesus is our Teacher. The Teacher memorized Scripture. So do His students.

How to Begin to Study the Bible

So you want to get started studying your Bible, but where do you begin? Let’s begin with a few observations about the Bible itself.

First, the Bible isn’t one book. It’s a collection of 66 books. There are different writers, compilers and editors with unique styles and recognizable patterns. As you study the Bible at deeper levels, you begin to recognize the styles of various authors and editors. The Bible was compiled over 1500 years and there is an amazing consistency of purpose and message. With that in mind, you probably don’t want to just sit down and start reading from Genesis and stop when you finish the book of Revelation. There is a lot to be learned when you read the Bible from beginning to end, but that’s usually not the best way to start.

The best way to start is with the gospels. Your first goal should be to know the life, ministry, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus. You should know the life of Jesus inside and out. Begin with the gospel of Mark. We believe Mark was the first gospel written. Then read Matthew and Luke. Matthew and Luke used Mark as an outline and then added additional material. Lastly, read John. John is the poet of the gospel writers. He is the one that adds layers of interpretation to the historical account of Jesus’ life.

Read slowly. This is not a race. Read, think, pray and make a lot of notes. Remember the point is not to just get smarter, but to know Jesus. Besides a Bible that you feel comfortable with, you will need two other tools.

Next, get a good Bible dictionary. Words, names, and customs that you are not familiar with will be described in a good dictionary. After that, buy a good concordance. A concordance will have EVERY word in the Bible noted. So, if you can just remember one word from a verse, the concordance will help you get find that verse. Also, if you want to see a particular word used elsewhere, the concordance will guide you to that particular word located anywhere in the Bible. This information comes in handy as you pursue your study of the Bible. You can find all of this in our bookstore.

So, get your Bible and open it to Mark chapter 1, verse 1. Begin reading. Read until something catches your attention and then, prayerfully study that moment in the Scriptures. Ask questions, see where else something like this happens or is talked about. Write in your journal. What is Jesus trying to teach you? Remember, Jesus was often called Rabbi, which means teacher. The greatest motivation for a teacher is an eager student.

Open your Bible. Open your heart. Pay attention. Class is in session and Jesus Himself is the teacher.

College Football

You don’t have to talk to me very long to understand I am an avid fan of college football. Most of the teams have reported back to begin practice and we are days away from the first games! I can’t wait!

But as intense as every Saturday promises to be, do you realize that most of the games are being won and lost right now before they are even played? Who shows up in shape? Who was watching extra film? Who is most focused and determined in practice right now?

People who study successful men and women always point out how intentional they are with their time and work. Every action today is done with tomorrow’s contest in mind – a contest they will be most prepared to win. I remind you all of the time that we have to “get ready” because there will come a time when we will have to “be ready.” The contest will begin and the time for preparation will be over. We will win or lose by how prepared we are for the moment. We will face temptation. We know that moment is coming.

What are you doing right now to get ready to resist that temptation? We know someone will ask you about your relationship with Jesus. What are you doing to get ready for that moment? Just as football games are won in practice, spiritual victories are won and lost in our preparation. The moment is coming…and what we are doing right now will determine how well we do.