Day 3 - Fresh Start
LISTENING TO GOD
Imagine not hearing from someone you love for a long time, and then one day you receive a letter in the mail from them. Think about the excitement of opening the letter in order to read what they have said! The Bible is a compilation of God’s letters to us, and it is the primary way in which He speaks to us. When we read the Bible, we are reading God’s words and God’s Truth. We can learn to hear God by reading the Bible.
WHY THE BIBLE?
The Bible is divided into two parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament takes place from the beginning of creation up until 400 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. The New Testament begins with the birth of Jesus and covers His life in the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), the beginning of the church (Acts), and early letters to Christian churches in cities across the Middle East. The Bible is made up of 66 different books that were written over 1,600 years. The Old Testament has 39 books (the books of Genesis through Malachi), and the New Testament has 27 books (the books of Matthew through Revelation). The Bible was written by more than 40 individuals, over a period of about 1,500 years as they were inspired by God. Yet, miraculously, the Bible doesn’t contradict itself and has one theme from beginning to end: God loves us and has a plan to redeem us through Jesus.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. - 2 Timothy 3:16 NLT
We all understand there are many opinions about who God is, what He has said, and what He has not said. Some of these opinions are accurate, and some of them are just plain lies. We are so glad God has not left us alone to decipher through all of people’s opinions. The Bible helps us to distinguish God’s voice from all other voices in the world. The world is full of theories, philosophies and opinions, but God’s Word is TRUTH!
Jesus said in Matthew 4:4 NLT, “’People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
The same way our bodies need natural food to grow, our spirits need to be fed with spiritual food in order for us to grow. Reading the Bible is like eating spiritual food. Therefore, in the same way that we eat food, we should consume the Bible every day.
Oftentimes we hear questions like, “When I am reading the Bible, how do I know that I am listening well?” This is a great question that many people ask. Here are three things you can keep in mind as you read the Bible. If you do these things you will be able to assure yourself that you are a good listener.
1. Acknowledge that God wants to talk to you.
2. Allow God’s words to draw you to His heart, help you turn away from sin and grow your faith.
3. Apply everything you learn.
THERE ARE MANY BIBLE VERSIONS. WHICH VERSION SHOULD I READ?
The original languages of the Bible are Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic (not English), so that means scholars throughout the years had to translate it. We call these translations “versions” of the Bible. There’s only one Bible but numerous translations because of the complexity of language. There are many great versions of the Bible to read, but for the sake of time we recommend the New International Version (NIV) OR the New King James Version (NKJV). As a new believer in Jesus, it is important for you to hear the Bible in modern day English in order to understand the Truth of God more easily. A great way to read various Bible versions is by downloading the YouVersion Bible app for Android or iPhone. Also, look for Christian Life under the Events tab for Sunday sermon notes and other links.
Sometimes the Bible can be difficult to grasp when you are just beginning; don’t be alarmed by this. As time goes on the Holy Spirit will help you to understand. You may want to consider investing in a commentary, which gives insight on what the Bible is saying as you read through it. We recommend getting a study bible which is a combination Bible/commentary.
THE BIBLE IS A BIG BOOK. WHERE SHOULD I BEGIN TO READ?
There are many fantastic books of the Bible: Genesis, Proverbs, Romans and Colossians to name a few. But perhaps the best place for you to begin today is reading the Gospel of John. John was Jesus closest disciple; therefore he offers a personal insight to His life.
Make the decision to stay connected to Jesus by beginning to add 5 minutes per day of reading the Bible to your 5 minutes of prayer. You can always spend more time than that, but make the decision to give at least 5 minutes of your day to hearing God speak through His letters to us. Let’s start by reading chapter one of John together.
John 1 NIV The Word Became Flesh
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. 6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'" 16 From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.
The Testimony of John the Baptist
19 Now this was John's testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was.
20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, "I am not the Christ." 21 They asked him, "Then who are you? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" He answered, "No." 22 Finally they said, "Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" 23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.'" 24 Now some Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" 26 "I baptize with water," John replied, "but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie." 28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing. Behold, the Lamb of God. 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel." 32 Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' 34 I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God."
Jesus Calls the First Disciples
35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!" 37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, "What do you want?" They said, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?" 39 "Come," he replied, "and you will see." So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour. 40 Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter).
Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael
43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, "Follow me."44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." 46 "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip. 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false."48 "How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you."
49 Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." 50 Jesus said, "You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that." 51 He then added, "I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
You can use the acronym S.O.A.P. when reading scripture.
S. Scripture – Read through a portion of scripture (several verses, a chapter or a book)
O. Observation – What did the Holy Spirit highlight to you? Is there an example for you to follow? Is there a sin to avoid? Is there a promise to claim? Is there a prayer to repeat? Is there a command to obey? Is there a condition to meet? Is there a verse to memorize? Is there a challenge to face? Consider starting a journal to record all that God will speak to your heart.
A. Application – How does this relate to my life and what should I do about it.
P. Prayer – Ask the Holy Spirit to help you with any area(s) that were observed in your reading.
Fresh Start: Beginning Your Faith Journey
As a new believer, what’s next? Being a Christian is bigger than praying and asking God into your heart. Discover what your next steps should be through seven days of encouragement in our Fresh Start: Beginning Your Faith Journey e-Book, a guide that will walk you through how to move from just believing in Jesus to becoming His disciple. Click here to download your copy today.