Understand Your Bible
Part Two: Set Your Goals
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Your Next Goal Is... TO SET GOALS

In our little introductory story, Jericho Johnson had a purpose for reading the Bible. Namely, he wanted to get more information for convincing his daughter that he was right and she was wrong. That wasn't a very noble goal, I'll grant you, but at least he had one.    
    Many people read the Bible with no goal in mind except "reading the Bible."

Their preacher, or their mom, or spouse, or someone else told them they should read the Bible so they are... well, reading the Bible.

Doing that is pretty much like telephoning the library and saying, "Duhhh... do you folks have any information?"
There's an old saying that goes, "If you don't have a goal, it's very unlikely that you will reach it." (If there wasn't such a saying before, there is now.)

Therefore, your next step toward understanding the Bible is to ask yourself, "What are my GOALS in reading God's word?"
 

Four Goals to Get You Started

To get you started on setting goals, the following paragraphs list and explain four goals that I believe MUST be on your list. They are:

 
  • Grow Your Love
  • Arm for War
  • Prepare for Trouble
  • Shape Up for Ministry
 


Honeymoon Suite

The first and great commandment is that you learn to love God more and more, every day.
Obeying this command should be
your primary goal in reading your Bible.

Some Christian's think God's main goal for them is to tell the world about Jesus Christ. Other Christians think God's main goal is that they grow in holiness.

In both cases -- not so! The first and great commandment is to love God. JUST LOVE HIM!
As Jesus implies in Revelation 2.3-4,
God wants the honeymoon of your love for Him NEVER to be over!

  Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. Mt 22.37-38

(Jesus said...) "You have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love." Rev 2.3-4

 
  • Grow Your Love
  • Arm for War
  • Prepare for Trouble
  • Shape Up for Ministry
 

When I plan a new page for this web site, I know I will get lots of visitors IF I choose a topic such as marriage, raising teen-agers, prophecy, or dealing with life's problems

Conversely, the visitor count will not be nearly so large if I instead choose a topic such as the attributes and personality of God.
   
Not that there is anything wrong with people who want God's advice on how better to live their daily lives. In fact, the Bible is the perfect place for getting such advice, and God put plenty of Bible verses in His book for just that purpose.   And yet -- I repeat! -- the first and great commandment is to love God.
 

How to Grow Your Love of God

How can Bible reading help you to grow your love of God? Easy! Know God better and you will love God better.

A LOT of the Bible was put there for the very purpose of revealing God's personality, so you can love Him better.

Question: How does the Bible reveal God? Answer: By showing you God in action. After all, "Actions Speak Louder than Words."
 

Boom! All of sudden you have a KEY to understanding and relishing Bible history books such as Numbers and First Kings.

  • Books such as these were NOT given to you for the main purpose of teaching you Jewish history. Good grief, no!
  • God gave you those books mainly so you can watch what God does when confronted with extreme stress, rejection, adversity, betrayal, hatred, and rebellion -- the acid tests of character.

In a nutshell, God gave you those Old Testament books so that you may know Him better and may love Him better.
To know God is to love Him!

Right now, out loud, say the following to yourself:
"A main purpose of my Bible is to reveal God by His actions,
so I can love Him better."

Guarantee!

If you establish Goal #1 as growing your love of God by watching Him in action, you will henceforth find treasure after treasure in the Old Testament, AND in the New Testament as well.

Here's a prayer to say every time you sit down to read your Bible:

"Please, Father, SHOW me your glory."

It's a neat prayer but it's not my original work.
Moses prayed that very sameprayer in Exodus 33.18.
What's more, in Exodus 34.5-7 God granted that prayer!

And Moses said (to God), "Please, show me Your glory.''

Then the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed before him...
Exod 33.18, 34.5-6a

Your Deck of Gold Cards

It's time to get to work!

Right away, buy yourself a deck of 3" by 5" cards with lines on them.
With a bit of work, this deck is going to become PURE GOLD -- a family heirloom to hand down to your kids and grandkids.

In the future as you read your Bible, keep your mind alert for verses that show God in action. The first time you find such a passage, decide what God's actions tell you about His character and personality. As examples:

  • Genesis 3.8-9 tells you what God did when Adam and Eve sinned and tried to hide from Him. Namely, God went seeking after them.
  • Okay, take a blank card and write on the top, "God seeks after those He loves." On the first line in the body of the card write "Gen 3.8-9 -- God searched for Adam & Eve."
  • If you later run across another Bible passage showing that God seeks after those He loves (e.g., Mt 18.11-14), write it down on the second line of the same card as Gen 3.8-9.
  • When you find a passage on a different aspect of God, such as "God is holy," start a NEW card. And so forth.
 

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?''

Gen 3.8-9

GOLD CARD!

(Topic: God seeks after those He loves)
Gen 3.8-9- God searched for Adam and Eve.

Now you are reading with a goal in mind --
to know and love God better.

When you lay down your Bible after each reading session, you will henceforth be able to see the tangible fruit of your efforts -- your growing deck of golden cards.

Better yet, you will have "laid up treasures in heaven" (Mt 6.20). Best of all, you'll be telling God, "I mean business about getting to know and love you better."

I am fully persuaded that God will bless your efforts. He has always blessed everyone to whom I have taught this method.

But this is just the beginning -- read on!

 
  • Grow Your Love
  • Arm for War
  • Prepare for Trouble
  • Shape Up for Ministry
 

  • Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Eph 6.11-12
  • (Jesus said:) "For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect." Mt 24.24
  • Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron 1 Tim 4.1-2
 

Enemies

God has enemies. God's enemies are the devil and his followers, both human and demonic.

  • As a child of God, you are a PRIME target for attacks by God's enemies (Eph 6.11-12). The devil and his crowd can't directly attack God, so they would love to attack you instead (1 Pet 5.8).
  • How does the enemy attack? The devil's main weapons are false christs, false prophets, false teachers, false doctrines (Mt 24.24, 1 Tim 4.1-2).

In other words, the enemy's goals are to totally confuse and deceive you concerning the truths of God.


Goal #2 -- Arm for War

  • Your greatest weakness in defending against lies is IGNORANCE of the truth.
  • Conversely, your invincible weapon against the devil's lies is the sword of God's truth -- your Bible (Eph 6.17).
  • Be like the Bereans (Acts 17.11). When you receive Bible teaching on TV, radio, your own church, this web site, or wherever -- read your Bible to see whether those teachings were so. Then God will say that you, too, are NOBLE!
  • In sum, Goal #2 for your Bible reading should be to daily CHECK out the truth of every Bible teaching you receive.
  • Arm for war -- sharpen your sword!
  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; Eph 6.17

These
(Berean Christians) were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they (the Bereans) received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Acts 17.11

 
  • Grow Your Love
  • Arm for War
  • Prepare for Trouble
  • Shape Up for Ministry
 

Trouble Insurance -- a Safe Harbor

Life is great BUT -- sad to say -- troubles will come. A loved one dies. You lose your job. Your house burns down.

Insurance is something you buy today for the trouble that might come tomorrow.

You probably have life insurance, medical insurance, fire insurance, and so forth. But
do you have TROUBLE insurance?

I mean,
have you built yourself a safe harbor? A harbor of peace and healing where you can anchor yourself when life kicks you in the head?

If not, you better get started today, BEFORE life's troubles come along.
It's hard to find comforting verses when you are searching for them through eyes dimmed with tears.

Therefore -- Goal #3 in your Bible reading is to bank *golden verses* for trouble insurance.

 Goal #3 -- Put verses in the bank for trouble insurance!

  • As you read your Bible, you will often come across Bible verses that shine some joyous sunshine in your heart.
  • Bank those verses away right now, so you'll have them at hand when rainy days of disappointment and heartbreak come along.
  • You will also come across verses that fill you with an overwhelming peace and certainty of God's love and provision. Put 'em in the bank. They're trouble insurance!
  • While reading the Bible, think about your future, and the futures of those you love. Think of all the events and situations waiting for you in the road ahead -- dating, marriage, raising kids, family arguments, sickness, healing, life, death -- all the events, happy and sad, that will come into your daily life.
  • Keep those future events in mind as you read your Bible. Find and bank the verses that will comfort and guide you when those events come along.
     

More Cards for the Deck

How do you bank those golden verses of comfort and healing that you will discover? You guessed it -- add them to your deck of Gold Cards!

Bang! You are no longer reading the Bible just to be reading it. No indeed, you are mining for gold! You are preparing to defend yourself and family along the road of life.

Do this, and you will be reading your Bible with a PURPOSE! And having a purpose will get you to keep right on reading. It works!!!!!!!

GOLD CARD!

(Topic: Peace & Safety)
Psalm 4.8- I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord,
Make me dwell in safety.


 
  • Grow Your Love
  • Arm for War
  • Prepare for Trouble
  • Shape Up for Ministry
 

If You Are NOT a Christian

If you haven't received Jesus Christ, your primary goal for reading the Bible should be to find out WHY you need salvation, and HOW to be saved.

In fact, much of the Bible will be foolishness to you until you DO receive Jesus Christ as Savior (1 Cor 2.14).

  But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Cor 2.14

   

For Christians -- Shape Up!

One of God's goals for the Bible is to get people saved from the death penalty of their sins.

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation
2 Cor 5.18
 

Because you are a Christian, God has commanded you to serve as a minister of reconciliation (2 Cor 5.18). In other words, God commands you to tell others WHY they need salvation, and HOW to receive it.

An important goal of your Bible reading must be...
To
get yourself in shape for this ministry!

 

Gold Card!

(Topic: Why Salvation)
Rom 6.23- For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  Accordingly, Goal #4 is to search out those verses that explain the WHY and HOW of salvation, and add them to your deck of gold cards. After a while, you'll have the courage to witness to anybody, even if he or she happens to have a doctor's degee in rocket science!

Other Goals You May Wish to Consider

I have suggested only four goals, but you may think of other purposes you want to accomplish as you read your Bible.

For example, you might want to set yourself the goal of searching the Old Testament for Bible verses that speak of Jesus Christ. As Lord Jesus indicated in John 5.39, the Old Testament Scriptures are loaded with references to Him.

The Joy of Bible Reading with a Purpose

I feel very safe in promising you that reading the Bible to meet goals will dramatically improve your understanding and enjoyment of God's holy word. And your growing deck of gold cards will give you a feeling of accomplishment like never before. May God richly bless you as you fellowship with Him in His word!

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