Saturday, August 8, 2009

God's love letter

Twice in the last couple of weeks I have had people tell me that when they tried to read the Bible they just opened it randomly and started reading wherever their eyes landed. They both reported that what they read either did not make sense to them or they didn't like what it said. I have heard this type of Bible reading referred to as the "lucky dip" method and there was a great story behind it which illustrated why using this method is not always the best idea. So I began to research online to see if could find the illustration. The following text is quoted from a website from the Middletown Bible Church, Middletown, Connecticut.

"Many people do not know where to start reading in the Bible, so they sometimes use the "lucky dip" method. They say, "Lord, show me where you want me to read" and randomly open their Bible and start reading wherever the Bible happens to open. Sometimes the Lord will bless this method, but in general it is not the best way to read His Word.

To show you some of the dangers in the "lucky dip" method, consider the following illustration: The story is told of a man who used this method. The first verse he happened to turn to was Matthew 27:5 which says Judas "went and hanged himself". Since he was not sure how this verse applied to himself, he flipped to another passage and the Bible fell open to Luke 10:37: "Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise." The man was quite upset and he did not know how he could ever obey that, so he decided to turn to one more place. Again he opened the Bible at random and to his horror his finger fell upon John 13:27: "Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly". As you can see, this method could easily cause a person to take verses out of context!

When we read a short story, we generally start at the beginning and read through until we get to the end. This is how the writer wrote it, and this is the best way to read it. We usually read letters in the same way. The same should be true with the books of the Bible. The best way to read is to start at the beginning of a book and continue until you get to the end. When Paul wrote the book of Romans, he did not write chapter 13 first and then chapter 8. He began with chapter 1 and then wrote chapter 2, etc. If he wrote it this way, shouldn't we read it this way?

Think of a young woman in love with her fiancé who is separated from her by many miles. How do you suppose she would read his love letters? As soon as the letter arrives in the mail she would rip it open and quickly read it all the way through with great interest. Then she would read it again, this time very slowly. She would think about every word. She would lovingly meditate upon every phrase and think to herself, "I wonder why he said this"? Even after she finishes reading the letter she would remember much of what was contained in the letter and she would continue thinking about it throughout the day.

We need to read the Bible in that way! And if you think about it, is not the Bible God’s love letter to us? (Read 1 John chapter 4.)"

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