Sermon Summary from Oct 11th), “Opening to Jesus through Scripture” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Scripture is transforming. In fact, Scripture is forming. Paul says that Timothy had been formed by the sacred writings from ‘infancy.’ (2 Ti 3:15 NIV). It is through Scripture that God has revealed himself to us. It is through the Holy Spirit as we read that we are taught all things. When we respond, Scripture forms us.
We need to immerse ourselves in Scripture. What we receive from worship weekly is not enough. The Psalmist tells us that for the Bible to nourish us, we are to meditate on it day and night (and it our delight) (Psalm 1:2,3). John Wesley encourages us to read within the context of the whole. I would suggest all of the Bible needs to be viewed through the filters of Jesus and of God as Love. If passages don’t look or sound like Jesus or look or sound like love, set them aside. There is something we don’t understand.
In order to delight in Scripture, to allow us to be nourished, we need some tools, a goal and a plan. I would suggest that we all need an easy reading version of the text. The Good News Bible (also known as Today’s English Version) and the NIV (I recommend the 2011 version for inclusive language) both are written a 8th grade level. The former especially would allow you to read the history of the nation of Israel (Genesis through 2 Kings) as one long easy reading book. And we should all have Study Bible or commentary to help us with our reading. Since we don’t know the culture, it is difficult for us to know what how the first hearers understood the text. Commentaries and Study Bibles assist in that. I recommend a Study Bible using an NRSV or NIV translation. (the former is the 6th generation from the KJV and retains much of the poetic qualities while upgrading the language and including recent scholarship).
You need a goal, a plan, and a way to be accountable. Most plans recognize that reading five chapters a day allows you to read the whole Bible in a year or a Gospel in a week. But whether five, or three, or one, or a verse, we need to read. Craig Kanally decided to read the whole Bible in 100 days. He posted progress online to hold himself accountable. The changes seemed immediate. He smiled more, he was kinder to others, good things happened. He was more reflective. He was formed by Scripture. So it may be with you.