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How To Read The Bible More Effectively (part 2)

Bible Studies

The Daily Spiritual Diary Worksheet is an example of one of the many ways you can arrange your personal daily devotional diary.  

          First of all, let's be clear about one thing. The mastery of the Bible, like the mastery of any discipline or skill in life, does not come without intense and constant effort. It is hardly a pursuit for dilettantes. But if you have made up your mind that the Bible is what it claims to be--the witness to Jesus Christ, who is the doorway to Life here and hereafter for yourself, your family, and the entire world--you will want to hear and ponder deeply that witness and share your exciting knowledge with others.

 

          It is regrettable that most Bible-reading is "catch-as-catch can" reading--a few verses before retiring at night, a paragraph at the breakfast table, a sample or two to make us feel right before we go to church on Sabbath morning. We somehow expect the Bible to yield up its treasures in two minutes flat. While there may be some value in such casual reading, there are dangers also. We may lift passages out of context and misinterpret and misapply them. One Bible scholar properly reminds us that in Bible reading we need not snapshots but time exposures. We should read when our faculties are most alert, when we have time to ponder the deeper meanings for ourselves, our family, our business, our community, and our world.           We should read the Bible with the kind of excited curiosity scientists have when they are on the track of a new discovery. We should read it the way a young man in the first stages of love pores over a letter from his beloved--not once, hurriedly, but repeatedly, with attention to every detail and the exact meaning of every word.          And we should read the Bible itself, not just books about the Bible. Too many people's knowledge of the Bible is secondhand. They evidently have a basic fear that they will get lost in the Bible's dry lists, archaic vocabulary, and curious symbols. They never experience the thrill of firsthand discovery, develop mature powers of judgment in biblical matters, and come through to rich personal understanding of the significance of biblical perspectives for their own lives.

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How To Read The Bible More Effectively (part 1)

Bible Studies

Editor's Note: This article will appear in three parts during this coming week. I encourage you to make a comment to this article, or any other article on this site.

     An appalling amount of biblical illiteracy exists in our churches these days. Recent polls by Gallup and others have shown that many people do not know even the simplest of facts, such as the city of Jesus' birth (Bethlehem) or the names of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). There is no way to justify such ignorance. Because God gave us his Word, we ought to make every effort to find out what it says. The Bible is, in fact, the most important book in existence. In it we find the words of eternal life, and of life here on earth as well. If we do not know what God says, is it any wonder that we go off in wrong directions?

 

     By studying the Bible we get to know who God is and what he is like. The Scriptures include over 15,000 references to God and a thorough study of those passages alone could change our lives. We should also study the Bible in order to test out what we believe. The world is filled with false ideas about God and his purposes for us. So when we hear someone stating what God's will is, we ought to check it out for ourselves in his Word, and then reject what is false and keep what is true. Finally, we need to study the Bible in order to grow spiritually as it encourages us to love and serve God and others, calls our attention to our own sin, and helps us live like Christ. But how do we read the Bible more effectively? These few passages don't provide a comprehensive answer to that question, but they do offer guidelines and point us in the right direction.

 

 

The Basic Quest     What we are trying to do when we read the Bible is to see what is there. Exegesis (the term used to describe biblical interpretation) is the art of seeing the obvious. Too many people try to think profound or deep thoughts when they read the Scriptures. But the Scriptures are deep enough; all we need to do is find out what is there. Another way of defining exegesis is to say it is the art of asking the right questions. If we ask the right questions of the Bible when we read it, we will get the right answers. Some suggested questions are given below for approaching the text with a keen eye, an inquiring mind, and an open heart.      

 

The Living Book     So now we read the passages of the Bible. What do we have? In one sense, we have a book like any other book. It has words, ideas, grammar, figures of speech, history, poetry, etc. The rules that make possible our understanding and interpretation of these data will be little different from those we refer to when reading other literature of a similar type. In another sense, however, the Bible is completely different from any other book. The Bible is God's inspired Word and when we read it, we are not examining it, rather, it is examining us. We do not interpret it; it interprets us. As God's Word it has a life of its own and we must listen to what God says to us through it.      

 

An Average-Reader Approach to Bible Study     Is there an approach that will make Bible reading and study an exciting and rewarding experience with the background and level of competence you have? And how can you get access to the discoveries and insights of the biblical scholars without going through their complicated processes? ...to be continued!

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Victory in the Philippines - Update Report #1

Evangelism News

Editor's Note: This email is an update from our latest mission trip in the Philippines. Dr. Warren Ashworth received it and shared it with the team who went with us this past February 2010. Please continue to pray for our newly baptized brethren!

Hello again Pastor,
 


Baptismal Canidates During the Sabbath School Meeting, the newly baptized gave their testimonies about the joy they felt when they have decided to accept Jesus as their personal savior and be baptized in the spirit.
 
There were two young man who was baptized last saturday.  They both attended the crusade.  They are Javen and Josilito. Javen got perfect attendance in the crusade but have not decided yet during the first batch and second batch of baptism.  But last sabbath he was burried in the water through baptism at chrysanthemum church baptistry together with Josilito.
 
The work at San Francisco is not yet finished, please continue to pray for us and for our new brothers and sisters there.
 
By the way, using the court every sabbath is not advisable because saturdays and sundays are only the vacant days of our youth to play basketball.  There is no problem with the barangay chairman, but if we insist we will have a lot of enemies there.
 
Still, 
Luis

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Church Construction Progress report #1

Evangelism News

During our last mission trip to the Philippines we also started a new church construction project. We were able to get the land cleared, the grading done, and the septic system in. Here is a short progress report from Jasper who is the pastor working with us on this project.

 

Dear Brother in Christ,
 


Church Construction Progress I have just openned my email today because we'd been very busy this weekend because of the seminar I conducted. We are also garteful that you arrived safe and sound from a long trip.
First of all, allow me  to express on behalf of the conference our heartfelt gratittude of what you have done in San Francisco, Soro Soro, and most especially the amount you left for the Filinvest Church building. The souls that were baptized were evidenced that God blessed the effort of your team of course with  the help also of our local team and brethren as well. Words are really inadequate to express how grateful we are for the very nice team  that you have. Every one was doing their parts with passion and sincerity that was my observation. So please convey our warm regards and thankfullness to the team members. I hope we will see again  in your future mission trips.

 

This is all for the moment I'll keep in touch.
 
Your Friend and Brother
Jasper

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Victory in the Philippines - 66 Souls Baptized

Evangelism News

    


Philippine City Life & Culture San Francisco, Laguna Binan is the name of this community. There are very few Adventists who live in this densely populated community of people. Just like every other city in the Philippines, we saw the sites and heard the sounds of filipino life and culture. However, the community of San Francisco is more depress and needy than the average city in the Philippines. The narrow streets were crowded with Jeepneys and tricycles. Along the side of the road could be seen people walking to and from their destination. The children were playing with each other from one end of town to the other. Chickens and roosters roamed freely about looking for food. Famish looking dogs could be seen laying beside the road scatching their blistered skin, or licking an open wound. Everyone seem to be busy doing something. While some might be working around the house, others were seen shopping for food to provide for their family. Open sewer gullies of black murky water ran down the side of each road. Homes and businesses constructed with brick, motor, and rebar stood unfinished - yet occupied. In spite of the grim look of poverty and wretchedness in every direction, the people seemed very satisfied and content. While walking the busy streets we could hear the most courteous and friendly greetings. Every face wore a smile of contentment and satisfaction. The filipino culture is built around the family and religion. Individuals learn to be very industrious and purpose-driven at an early age. Fathers and mothers learn to plan wisely and develop habits of frugality and thriftiness. All share a determined quest for survival in spite of unfortunate circumstances. Take courage my friends, for God knows and understands!

        


Renovation of the Community Center A group of eleven of us traveled from America to the Philippines to participate in this work of evangelism. Almost all team members came out of the San Francisco International Airport in California and arrived in Metro Manila on Feburary 2, 2010. We met the pastor and other members of the Southern Luzon Union Office. We traveled to Adventist University of the Philippines were we would stay for the duration of our trip. Pastor Bon took us over to look at the site where the meetings would take place. We rented a large community gymnasium for the meetings. When we arrived we noticed that a lot of work needed to be done to make the site conducive to our meetings. Team members started patching drywall, painting blocks, repairing wood, fixing old electrical lines, and installing new light fixtures. Everyone in the community was pleasantly surprised by our benevolent work. Many people began helping us clean and patch the stage and basketball stands. One young man decided to stand over team members with an umbrella to shade the blazing sun. All were surprised and very grateful for the new look brought to this community center. The barangay captain was especially thankful along with school teachers and local small business owners. This work of benevolence paved the way for many to accept the lifechanging truths of the Bible.

    


VBS Children's Program The meetings began each night with a VBS type childrens program conducted by Kathy and Neil Spiva. Mrs. Kathy Spiva is a long time VBS coordinator in her church. The program would begin with lots of singing to the computer generated music videos. The children would participate in the song and thus learn how to read, write, spell, and even memorize bible verses. After the singing program, the children would participate in the various arts and crafts provided by Mrs Spiva. Each night we had well over 100 children. The children enjoyed the program so much that they would set up the tables and chairs before we arrived. All the children were very friendly and would greet us with a loud happy greeting each night. Some of the most enjoyable moments took place during the children's program. As a result of the children attending on a regular basis, the parents started attending as well.

     


Medical Ministry of Health & Healing On one designated day, we were all involved in food and clothing distribution, blood pressure, diabetes, and general medical treatments. We had over 40 staff members, many of whom, were medical professionals from Manila. We conducted over 120 dental examinations and extractions, over 130 surgeries (with more than 40 circumcisions), and over 100 pediatrics evaluations. We are told: "In the ministry of healing the physician is to be a co-worker with Christ. The Saviour ministered to both the soul and the body. The gospel which He taught was a message of spiritual life and of physical restoration. Deliverance from sin and the healing of disease were linked together. The same ministry is committed to the Christian physician. He is to unite with Christ in relieving both the physical and spiritual needs of his fellow men. He is to be to the sick a messenger of mercy, bringing to them a remedy for the diseased body and for the sin-sick soul." (MH p. 111) Many of the people in this town can't afford to go to the doctor. Our work of health and healing was freely given to all!


Evangelistic Meetings Each night during the main meeting, well over 225 attended consistenly. We had a team of 11 people working together to help make these meetings a success. A retired surgeon, Dr. Neal Spiva, who went to give medical assistance, but who is skilled in building and went to help repair/rebuild some damaged or destroyed dwellings. The surgeon's wife, Kathy, is a longtime specialist in childrens' evangelism and went to do VBS style programs for the kids. A building contractor, Hovik Torosssian, went ready to work in the rebuilding of dwellings. His wife, Edee, (a great granddaughter of Ellen White) is also a specialist in childrens' evangelism and went to aid Mrs Spiva in the VBS style programs for the kids. Bert Leverett who has an insatiable heart for missions, went to lead out each night in the evangelistic meetings. Tom Ward is the 19 yr. old son of the church secretary and a dedicated Christian went to work hard at whatever is needed. Paul Bergeron, also went to do whatever needed to be done. Pastor Dan Freedman, the pastor of the St. Helena church, attended the meetings to assist and help wherever needed. Charinette Guerrero is a very capable R.N. and loves evangelism and sharing her special gifts and talents in music. Charinette's Mom, Dee Guerrero, is a medical technician and went to work wherever needed. Warren Ashworth, a retired professor of more than 35 years in denominational work at PUC, Andrews University, and various colleges and universities overseas. More importantly, the Holy Spirit worked with us to inspire 66 souls to surrender to Jesus and be baptized. We praise God for his mercy and love.  


Baptism and Dedication      What a great blessing it was for me to see sixty-six (66) souls surrender to Jesus and be baptized. All heaven rejoiced to see these souls take their stand for Jesus. Pastor Bon had been working with many of the canidates prior to our arrival. There were a total of 11 of us working together to make these baptisms possible. We surely do have a lot to praise the Lord for? We thank all the dear folk who sacrificially donated to make the trip a success and allow us to leave the conference with $7,500 toward the new church, Dan and Tom's vital help in arranging the transportation, Melanie's getting used clothing and packing it all, Dee and Nona's contacts that would make the medical/dental outreach a genuine success, Neal and Kathy's planning that would make the children's evangelism touch so many lives, Edee's planning and preparing the music. What joy the singing would bring to all of us, Hovik's cheery, supportive spirit, Paul's joy at being involved and his big heart, Bert with his sonorous voice and wonderful smile, ready to preach the Christ-centered SDA messages every night. But most of all, we praise God for Jesus Christ his son. We thanks Him for the attending angels and the Holy Spirit. For without these heavenly agencies, no one could have ever accepted Christ's invitation for baptism. We thank God! 

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