Theme: God’s Word
We will spend this year in reading from God’s word. The Bible, for many reasons, is unlike any other book ever written. For our interaction with it to be its most effective, it’s important for us to begin by reading what the Bible says about the Bible. The intent of these introductory readings is to get our minds focused on the object of our readings for this year. The fact is, the Bible has some important things to tell us about the Bible.
Readings and Introductory Comments:
Psalm 119 is best known as the longest chapter of the Bible, comprised of 176 verses. It is that length by design as this Psalm is of a deliberately organized design. Its structure is an alphabetic acrostic, that is, the verses of the Psalm begin with a specific letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The first letter is aleph and each of the first 8 verses start with that letter, the next 8 with the letter beth and so on. Twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alphabet with 8 verses devoted to each letter results in 176 verses.
This isn’t why we’re reading Psalm 119, though. Rather, it is because of what the Psalm is all about. This lengthy passage is incredibly focused in its purpose. Psalm 119 basically repeats the same message 176 times. This is a magnificent effort to honor and praise Scripture as God’s own word.
Nehemiah 8:1-8 and Acts 8:26-40
Two texts in Scripture are examples of the phenomenon of the reading of God’s word and its marvelous effect on its hearers. One is form the Old Testament, Nehemiah 8:1-8, and the other from the New, Acts 8:26-40. As you read these two incidents, think about what is happening. God’s word is being read. Think about those who are reading it, those who are hearing it, the impact of that word, the attitudes of both the speakers and hearers.
When the apostle Paul arranged for a special meeting with the elders from the church at Ephesus, he was speaking with dear friends. He also spoke about a church he loved deeply. As the apostle encouraged and warned these men, he knew that they needed encouragement, guidance, strength, and direction. So he did the only thing he knew he could, commend them to God word.
2 Timothy 3:14-4:2
It is of interest that as Paul wrote to his preaching companion Timothy, the young preacher was in Ephesus (see the introduction to the Acts 20:26-32 reading above). Scripture, which had played a formative role for Timothy from quite a young age, must also be the foundation of his work with the Ephesian church. That word provided what Timothy needed and he must devote himself to it.
Near the conclusion of one of the many arguments for Jesus’ superiority in the book of Hebrews—this one showing Jesus’ superiority to Moses—the writer encourages Christians to not fail to achieve the rest which God has prepared for His children, as did those under Moses’ leadership. Vitally important to entering that rest is the role of God’s word.
1) Psalm 119
- As you read, list the synonyms for Scripture found in each verse (the exceptions are vv. 84, 122, 132). For instance, in v. 1 it is “law of the Lord”, in v. 2 is is “his testimonies” and so on. There are a total of 9 of these throughout the chapter with seven of them introduced in the first 7 verses. Can you find the final two?
- What are some of the reasons given for God’s word being so desirable and beneficial?
- What are some of the things to which God’s word is compared (i.e. a “light” and “lamp”—v. 105)?
2) Nehemiah 8:1-8
- In what posture were the people while Scripture was being read? What does this signify? How is your respect for God’s word shown?
- What was necessary in addition to just reading God’s word (see v. 8)? How is this need being fulfilled in your own reading and hearing of God’s word?
3) Acts 8:26-40
- What is remarkable about what the Ethiopian nobleman was doing (hint: it is not remarkable at all in our own modern experience)?
- What is similar about the nobleman’s reading the word and those of Nehemiah’s day hearing it read?
4) Acts 20:26-32
- What were the Ephesian elders going to be facing and in light of which Paul commended them to God’s word (see vv. 29-30)?
- What is God’s word able to do for us (v. 32)?
5) 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2
- When in Paul’s life did he begin to learn Scripture (3:15)? When did you begin to learn it? How so? What are you doing to insure this is happening with your own children and grand children?
- For what is God’s word profitable? Has it accomplished these things in your life? Think of specific examples.
6) Hebrews 4:11-13
- What is unique about God’s word as compared to other written documents?
- How can we see and know that God’s word is alive?
- Verse 12 begins with “For…”, in the sense of “for this reason” or “because of this”. So, for what reason or to what end is God’s word active and alive (hint: the discussion begins all the way back in 3:7 and concludes at 4:13)?
- In what practical ways is the importance of God’s word demonstrated in my life right now?
- What have I learned or better come to understand this week about God’s word and its role in my life?
- What habits can I form that would help enlarge and deepen the place of God’s word in my life?
“10 Reasons You Need to Read” (CLICK HERE)
Devotional Writings (links):
Exposed! (Hebrews 4:11-12) [CLICK HERE]
My Alphabet of Praise [CLICK HERE]
“And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32; ESV)