Teachers Study: "Doing the Word"
--Chuck Swindoll says in his book, "Improving Your Serve:"
"To make the value of obedience just as practical as possible, let's play 'Let's Pretend.' Let's pretend that you work for me. In fact, you are my executive assistant in a company that is growing rapidly. I'm the owner and I'm interested in expanding overseas. To pull this off, I make plans to travel abroad and stay there until a new branch office gets established. I make all the arrangements to take my family and move to Europe for six to eight months. And I leave you in charge of the busy stateside organization. I tell you that I will write you regularly and give you directions and instructions. I leave and you stay.
Months pass. A flow of letters are mailed from Europe and received by you at the national headquarters. I spell out all my expectations.
Finally, I return. Soon after my arrival, I drive down to the office and I am stunned. Grass and weeds have grown up high. A few windows along the street are broken. I walk into the receptionist's room and she is doing her nails, chewing gum, and listening to her favorite disco station (as you can see the book was written in the 70's). I look around and notice the wastebaskets are overflowing.
The carpet hasn't been vacuumed for weeks, and nobody seems concerned that the owner has returned. I asked about your whereabouts and someone in the crowded lounge area points down the hall and yells, "I think he's down there." Disturbed, I move in that direction and bump into you as you are finishing a chess game with our sales manager. I ask you to step into my office, which has been temporarily turned into a television room for watching afternoon soap operas.
"What in the world is going on, man?"
"What do you mean, Chuck?"
"Well, look at this place! Didn't you get any of my letters?"
"Letters? Oh yes! Sure! I got every one of them. As a matter of fact, Chuck, we have had a letter study every Friday night since you left. We have even divided the personnel into small groups to discuss many of the things you wrote. Some of the things were really interesting. You will be pleased to know that a few of us have actually committed to memory some of your sentences and paragraphs. One or two memorized an entire letter or two - Great stuff in those letters."
"Okay, you got my letters. You studied them, meditated on them, discussed them, and even memorized them. But what did you do about them?"
"Do? We didn't do anything about them."
Remember to begin in prayer!
· Prayer 5 min
· Pick one of the options 5-10 min
· Read lesson and bible passages 10-15min (you can do this and discussions
· Discussion groups 15-30 min
· Going deep 5-10 min
· End in prayer and repeat application. 5 min
Total lesson time 45 min- 1 hr
Get a hold of some traffic signs. You can borrow them from the DMV (ask for the safety division if in CA) or a school drivers ed., you can make your own, or have a Sunday school class make them. You need a stop sign, yield, and any others.
Say: "What is this sign for (stop)?," Read Ex. 20:14 and ask, "How is this verse like a stop sign?"
Say: "What is this sign for (Yield)?" Read Rom. 14:13 and ask, "How is this verse like the yield sign?"
Ask your students to choose one of the following statements that best applies to their life now (you can type them up on cards for them or use in small groups):
1. I'm moving away from God.
2. I'm stagnant in my faith.
3. I'm growing, but very slowly.
4. I'm growing.
5. I'm on fire; I grow every day.
6. One area where I really need to grow is:
Lesson: STEP III (B): OBSERVE IT. ASK WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
When observing, we first ask what it says, then and only then can we observe what it means. Too many people like to get into a hurry and "cut to the chase" for the meaning, and miss a lot and even get the meaning wrong! This is the crucial step we have to undertake before we apply it to our lives. There are no easy ways out, or shortcuts to understanding any great works of literature, especially God's Word!
This is the task called "exegesis." This fancy word simply means to study a text carefully, logically and systematically, to find the original intended meaning.
This is the process of gaining the "plain truth" of what the passage you are studying means. It is more than just "common sense," and it is common sense. This is where we pick at the text and in so doing we are picking at our hearts and minds!
Remember we must come before the Word with an open heart and mind. This will allow us to discover more of the meaning. We cannot be closed off to His work, and what He has to teach us. We cannot have our own agenda and expectations that take up all the room in our hearts and minds, that leave no room for God. We cannot have a mind already made up in our image and limited experience. God is fully capable, but He does not usually steam roll over our will. He allows us to work it out, that is what Philippians 2 is all about.
§ If we go to scripture to only be comforted, we will find ourselves spiritually bankrupted.
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Gal. 2:20)
We must go before our Lord with the attitude of being poured out before Him with nothing left of our will. Then humbly ask, "please my Lord reveal to me what you want me to learn and to grow. Reveal to me the things you wish me to change, show me how I can be my best for your glory."
§ When we go before God with only what we want, all we will hear in return is our echoed assumptions!
"You have seen many things, but have paid no attention; your ears are open, but you hear nothing." (Isaiah 42:20)
We will not gain much with the attitude to just ask God to show us a neat trick, or just help me through this issue, or to just bless me… We must have a lifestyle of conviction and learning. Even when the revelation may shake us out of our tree of comfort. Everything God has to reveal to us is wonderful, however we may not see the wonder until years latter, or not even until we are called home.
Take comfort that God is sovereign. He is in charge. And He does have a wonderful plan for you. Just beware we cannot go through the committed life of a disciple with the fear of being convicted, or hide in the face of challenge. We cannot tremble as ostriches with our heads in the sand, ignoring the truth that the Holy Spirit has for us. We must be prepared to receive conviction and be willing to change. We need to have an open door to being disturbed. Thus, instead of the "do not disturb" sign on the door to our Lord, it must say "come on in, disturb all you want." Because God is God and we are not!
§ Let God have His way with you!
§ We must know our weakness and limitations as creatures filled with sin!
§ Ask our Lord to open you before Him, to allow yourself to go beyond your culture,
education and experience! Then the meaning will come alive!
§ We cannot apply what we do not know and understand!
Watch God's Word unfold before you.
When you read, ask yourself "What does it mean?"
· Look for meanings of words and phrases in the context! Use Bible Dictionaries.
· Look at different translations side by side. I Recommend the N.I.V. or N.A.S.B. for serious study, but the New Living Bible, J.B. Philips, The Message, Amplified, C.E.V., and New Century versions make good insights. Remember they are paraphrases and not accurate translations. Do not take them literally. Just allow them to give you insight. And overview.
· ANALYZE by gathering facts and all the information available to you.
Do not solely rely on commentaries and study Bibles. Nothing beats studying for yourself. You will get addicted to relying on them and get lazy on your personal studies! Use the commentaries just to see what you may have missed, and what you do not understand!
THINGS TO DO:
§ Paraphrase the passage yourself.
§ What is supported?
§ What are the conclusions?
§ REMEMBER: Be on the look out for VERBS. They are crucial. "Tense, voice, person, & mood." You know the stuff from grade school! If you need help, check out a grammar textbook. Some dictionaries have basic English summaries that will be a great help! Keep in mind the Bible was not written in English! For more serious study, check out "Colin-Brown" by Regency, which goes through the Greek words and gives in-depth insights.
The BIG THING TO DO:
Make an emotional identification into the text. Place yourself as a participant, being active in it. As if it is your story. As if you are there. We do this naturally when we watch a good movie or TV show. We become a participant vicariously. It captures our attention and interest, as if we are there! Thus we will cry or laugh, because it touched us. Nothing is more interesting or spectacular than the stories in the Bible, so what is stopping you from being active in it?
"Discussion:" THINGS TO VIEW AND ASK AND TO APPLY:
Take your passage, (choose a short book like II or III John or Jude or…) and go through it together or in small groups with these steps.
Ask what is actually being said? Consider nothing insignificant!
· Look for stuff to carry out in your life.
· Write down your questions and what you do not understand. This helps us grow!!!
· What are the implications to be applied?
· What is being taught to transform us?
· What are the promises that I can take to heart?
· What about the life, work, teaching, and presence of Jesus Christ, how can I model His Character?
· What is our duty?
· What is God's character?
· Look out for types of "literary style." That is history, philosophy, drama, poetry,
wisdom and law. (See appendix A)
· Make a commitment to the meaning.
· Try to write the verse or entire passage in your own words!
· Accept what It says: This is God's Word!
Use these observations to be more focused in your life. Notice the duty or application from your text, and commit to it!
Read the following article by candlelight, you may remember it from the teacher's study:
If someone said the word "holiness" to you, what would come to your mind first? You'd probably associate holiness with God. But did you ever stop to think about what God's holiness is all about?
What does the Bible mean when it says, "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty" (Isaiah 6:3)?
The word "holy" is translated in from the Old Testament and it means, "separated" or "cut apart." God is holy because He is totally, completely, absolutely separate from everything He has ever created. Because He cannot be infected by sin! He is a cut above everything in the universe.
He is perfect, pure, and separate from the slightest hint of sin, error or evil. Can you visualize perfection in your life, that is living out a totally perfect sinless existence? It is not easy, is it? What about purity, that's just as difficult. Have you ever wondered how we are to understand God's holiness if we can't picture what it means?
Well God provided a Way for us to understand Him, a model for us to follow. Jesus said, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). If we want to "see" the holiness of God more clearly, we need to look at the life Jesus Christ. Jesus was holy in that He was perfect. He never made a mistake. He never miscalculated or judged incorrectly. He always did the right thing at the right time in the right way
Jesus was holy in that He was and is pure. He never sinned (can you imagine that?). Yes, He walked among sinners. He mingled with them, ate with them, laughed with them, cried with them, healed them, and loved them. But He never became attached to their sinful attitudes or actions. And, with love and care, He called them to leave their lives of sin (John 8:11). God is like that.
But that's not all. Our holy God Expects us to be holy too: "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy." (1 Peter 1:15-16)
Now we can say this is a tough standard, but does this mean we do not try because it is so tough? Thus if we will never reach it, why bother with it. A lot of Christians live their lives this way. So they never try, but we must try anyway. We can get closer to God's standard of holiness every day by relinquishing ourselves to Christ in our prayers, devotions, and relationships. And we can rejoice in the fact that a day is coming when we will stand in God's presence as holy people singing "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty!"So let us go out and live as our life belongs to our Lord, as it does, and be holy!