Yesterday we started to get into the ‘how’ of doing devotions. We talked about using other reference tool along with the Bible. In fact, your devotions should consist of 3 elements. First, you need scripture – the actual Word of God. Second, another tool to aid you in understanding the scripture you are reading. This could be a devotional guide such as a study Bible and/or a Bible dictionary or commentary. The third and arguably the most critical part is prayer.
1 Timothy 3:16 says “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” ESV. I’ve had many people tell me that they don’t like to read the Bible because it’s too difficult. All the ‘thee’s & thou’s’, and the long genealogies (Joe begat Bob, Bob begat Richard, Richard begat Harry . . . . ). I like to quote an old line “A feeble excuse is better than none”.
Romans 15:4 “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope” NIV. The Bible was into many different versions for a reason. If the old style speaks to you and you can understand it, by all means use the King James version. If you’re not a great reader, use one of the ‘easy to read’ versions.
Using some kind of guide will walk you right past most of those long genealogies, pointing out the more important ones. If you want a word-for-word translation there are several available. If you want a thought-for-thought translation, or even an ‘interpretation’ which usually makes for a smoother flow of ideas, use the New Living translation or The Message. The important thing is that the version you use is accurate, and consistent with your faith.
By this I mean that if you are not a Roman Catholic, for example, you might find the extra material in a Catholic Bible (called the Apochrypha) confusing. We as Protestants do not believe that material meets the criteria for being accepted as God’s Word. If you read a Jewish Bible, you’ll find that the entire New Testament is missing! This is simply because they don’t believe that Jesus was really the Messiah, so His story as continued after His birth is not accepted as canon (scripture). Talk to your pastor or check out a good Bible translation guide like this one: http://www.mardel.com/bible-translation-guide.aspx.
John 17:17 “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” NIV.
Another great way to choose a version that works best for you, or simply to gain deeper understanding of what you read, is to use a ‘parallel’ Bible. This is a Bible that has 2 or more versions side by side. These are also available on-line or at the bookstore. Here’s an example of a very familiar verse: http://www.biblestudytools.com/john/3-16-compare.html. See the difference?
Let your prayer today begin with asking the Holy Spirit to guide you into His Word in a way that not only gives you a deeper understanding, but touches your very heart.