Monday, March 26, 2012

Why You Should Read the Bible Aloud

Some of the most fun I've had in my Bible study time has been sustained periods of shouting God's Word aloud. After reading advice for memorization that recommended reading passages fifty times out loud in a full preaching voice before attempting to memorize the text rote, I began to regularly practice belting the Bible to myself. It has made a huge difference in how I interact and enjoy the word. Reading the Bible aloud with passion has become one of the most stirring parts of my devotional life, and I can spend more than an hour doing it without growing tired (strengthens the lungs too). This practice is not just a preference either.Throughout Scripture God calls His people to response and action, and often a spoken word is the simplest form of response. Putting God's Word in your mouth and ears may be the most effective way of placing it within your heart.

Why You Should Read the Bible Aloud:

1. Exodus 13:9
It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the LORD’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt.

Israel had an oral culture and recitation of God's word was vital for remembering His covenant and in worshipping God.There was no written Bible, but there was recitation of the text. Reciting God's promises and Covenant blessings and curses was intended to remind them of who the Lord was, what He had done and what He promised to do in the future. It was a visceral memorial to His goodness and deliverance.

2. Deuteronomy 30:14
But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.

Reading the Bible aloud keeps the Word near you. It keeps it in your mind, in your ears and in your heart. It's harder to gloss over verses or speed read when you are speaking the words clearly and emphatically. It puts the Word in greater proximity to your senses and your soul.

3. Joshua 1:8
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

God commands that His word stay in our "mouth." This is the specific method of meditation, and through meditation and recitation springs obedience and success in walking with the Lord. Again, Israel had an oral culture, so some may argue that reading could be just as effective in fulfilling this command, but the verse says "shall not depart from your mouth" not "shall not depart from your mind." God was commanding them to recite His word, to put it in their mouths and listen to it.

4. Psalm 49:3
My mouth shall speak wisdom, And the meditation of my heart shall give understanding.

The Word of God can train our tongue and our speech. If we put it on our tongue, it will come up more in conversation. Our tongues can be trained to speak wisdom and our speech can inspire and sustain the meditation of our heart.

5. Psalm 119:172
My tongue shall speak of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness.

Our speech confirms that God's Word is righteous; it stands as praise to God. Reading the Bible aloud is vocal praise to God. We don't sing worship songs primarily in our heads. We worship with our mouths.

6. Psalm 119:103
How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Reading the Bible out loud will make you feel good; it's enjoyable. The Holy Spirit bears witness to our praise and to Christ's Word by manifesting His presence and in His presence there is fullness of joy.

7. Isaiah 59:21
“As for Me,” says the LORD, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the LORD, “from this time and forevermore.”

We have been grafted in, and we are the descendants of this promise.The oral recitation of God's Word is intended to continue to us.

8. Malachi 2:5-9
5 “My covenant was with him, one of life and peace,
And I gave them to him that he might fear Me;
So he feared Me
And was reverent before My name.
6 The law of truth[a] was in his mouth,
And injustice was not found on his lips.
He walked with Me in peace and equity,
And turned many away from iniquity.
7 “For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge,
And people should seek the law from his mouth;
For he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.
8 But you have departed from the way;
You have caused many to stumble at the law.
You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
9 “Therefore I also have made you contemptible and base
Before all the people,
Because you have not kept My ways
But have shown partiality in the law.”

We are Kings and Priests before God (Rev. 1:6). The job of the priest was to keep and speak the Word of God and remind the people of it. We are a royal priesthood, a kingdom of people meant to keep the memory of God's Word before each other. This may be more of an argument for memorization, but reading the Bible aloud aids memorization.

9. Romans 10:8-10
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”[a] (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

There is power in speech. The evidence of our faith and the practice of our salvation is our confession of Jesus as Lord. Faith in our heart results in a confession with our mouth "unto salvation." As God's Word gets into our heart it should come out of our mouth. Our vocalization of the Bible is our affirmation and confession of it as true and real in our faith and in our lives.

Shout out God's Word. It will change your life.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Tozer Bible Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Kelly Simmons who won the A.W. Tozer Bible. Please send your address to Biblereadingproject[at]gmail[dot]com.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Last Day to Enter to Win the A.W. Tozer Bible!

Today is the last day to enter to win the A.W. Tozer Bible! Go here and enter to win. Subscribe or Follow to keep up with more giveaways.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A.W. Tozer Bible Giveaway

This week and next week I will busy working with mission teams doing street evangelism, training, discipling etc. along with my other mission activities, so I may not be able to write much. In lieu of other posts I will be giving away  a copy of the A.W. Tozer Bible. You can view my review of the edition here.

Enter by commenting on this post with your full name. If you post the giveaway on a blog, post a second comment with the link accompanied again with your full name for an extra entry. I will randomly select a winner on Friday March 23th and announce their name on the blog. If they do not contact me at biblereadingproject[at]gmail[dot com] within 5 days with their U.S. mailing address, I will post a second winner. Tell all your friends.

Why give away books? It attracts new readers. It helps spread the messages and works that the Lord has used to inspire me in life and ministry. It helps spread passion and zeal for the work.  Many of the books will be ones I've received for free or extra copies that I have on hand, or simply books that I feel are important enough that they need to be disseminated to the body of Christ at large.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Review: How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens

How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens
John 5:39 presents Christ's claim that He is indeed the fundamental revelation of all of Scripture and that all of Scripture testifies of Him. He demonstrates this with His disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:13-35, "And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." After which they remarked that their hearts burned within them when He opened the Scriptures to them. The revelation was one that hit their heart as well as their head, and though we're inclined to believe it involved heavy exegesis, it was a spiritual revelation.

Michael Williams new book How to read the Bible through the Jesus Lens is designed to introduce readers to the revelation of Christ through all the Scriptures and restore the emphasis on God's redemptive work through the person of Jesus. Williams writes, "To accomplish this purpose in a book that one doesn't need a wheelbarrow to carry around, the chapters are brief and similarly structured. In each one, I present the overarching theme of each biblical book along with a discussion of how that theme ultimately finds its focus in Jesus Christ." How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens is not intended to be an intensive study or a detail based examination of the Bible, but an overview of each biblical book designed to empower the reader to investigate the presence of Christ within the text.

How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens is designed as a cross between Cliff's notes and a book introduction in a good Study Bible. The emphasis is on theme and application, but Williams formats the book overviews into sections: Introduction (which includes Theme and Memory Verse), The Jesus Lens, Contemporary Implications, and Hook Questions. An introduction of the material and the theme is followed by a more explicit explanation of how the book testifies to Jesus and then concluded by directing the revelation at the reader through applications and questions. All of this is accomplished in about four pages per book.

I chose John's epistles as the main section to review for this book, epistles which make Jesus and His work explicit. However, reading John's epistles through the Jesus lens means not being distracted by abstraction or controversy (his naming of names and his identification of specific heresies), but by focusing on John's specific revelation of Christ. Williams shows how John identifies the redemptive character of Christ's life through the two loves in Luke 10:27 and then challenges his readers to live from the life of Christ, "For John, the deep truths of the faith must always be exegeted by Christian Behavior. Life from Christ should exhibit characteristics of the life of Christ." This theme is compounded by John's exposure of lies and behavior that deny Christ and His redemptive work, describing Christ's deity and humanity with force.

Williams introduction to John's epistles reminds the reader of the revelation of Jesus, from which John writes and highlights how John describes the life of Christ and Christ as the Truth. These highlights will help the reader sustain a reading of the text through the Jesus Lens and help them avoid missing the revelation of Christ in the midst of John's confrontation of false doctrine.

Williams introduction and highlight of the themes of the book train the reader to focus on Jesus first and foremost and equips the reader to do that, to be aware of what to look for. How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens describes what Jesus looks like and where Jesus is in each book of the Bible. It is simple equipment for the general reader that will help reveal Christ throughout the Scriptures. It may not be an ideal resource for those with a high level of biblical literacy but it will almost certainly serve as an important reminder of who the Scriptures are about and help read the Bible with an important understanding of how it relates to their redemption.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Jots and Tittles March 2012

Reading the Bible to Obey? by Greg Gordon

Punctuating the Bible: Ephesians 4:11-12 by Dr. Benjamin Shaw

Craig Keener features an article at Huffington Post: Are Miracles Real?

Michael C. Patton features a testimony and asks the question: My Back Has Been Healed - Am I Charismatic Now?

Questions You Should Ask When Considering a Pauline Citation of the Old Testament at Baker Bookhouse Connection

The Easiest Way to Memorize the Bible by Ken Berding

Challies has been doing some awesome infographics lately.

The Earliest Manuscript of Mark Found? by John Byron (Check out his later posts on the subject as well)

What Happened to the Original New Testament? Can we Reconstruct It? by John Byron

What I'm reading: