Learn to USE your Bible - Week Two - Part Four 💕
For the coming week please pretend First John is the only book in your Bible. Not the Gospel of John which is toward the front of the New Testament grouped together with Matthew, Mark and Luke…the first of the three letters of John, back toward Revelation at the end of the New Testament.
Read it every day. Read it like a love letter and before you begin read Psalm 119:18 & 34 as a prayer.
“Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions. “Give me understanding, so that I may keep your Word and observe it with all my heart.”
Have you ever received a love letter?
I know. I know! Snail mail and passing notes are old fashioned ideas. But let’s just pretend you’re an old fashioned person, and you’ve received a very special love letter in the mail. Pretend you’ve carried the letter around in your pocket, similar to some character out of a sappy old black and white movie, taking it out and re-reading it every time you got the chance. You’ve read it so often because in your heart you’re fitting the words into your dreams and plans for the future.
As you read this week try to remember, John’s letter it was written to you – by the Holy Spirit and he said, “I am writing this so that your joy may be compete.”
On day one, read the letter through for the first time. Think of it as a love letter you’ve just received. As with any love letter, savor every word. It is wonderfully exciting and full of promise.
On day two, when you read the letter again, ask God to reveal his love to you personally in every verse. In Chapter 2, verse 20 He says, “you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you know all the truth.” Search out the truth. Make a list of verses that say “God loves ME.”
The third day ask Jesus to give you his suggestions for ways to love yourself more. Place a photograph of yourself in the pages of your Bible and picture yourself in the promises throughout the letter. Paraphrase verses like 4:19-21, inserting personal pronouns. In place of “his brother” or “he” say “me, myself or I.”
As followers of Christ, we are commanded to LOVE. We are commanded to love ourselves and take that love to others. In and of ourselves, in our human nature it is impossible to fulfill this commandment. Only IN CHRIST, who loved so much that he gave his life for our salvation, is it possible to love at all. Ask him to give you his love, so you can give it away
On day four of this week read the letter again and look for ways you can show God how much you love him. Ask him to show you those things that are pleasing to him…not more things you can DO to stay busy…but quiet, gentle, loving things that will make your personal relationship with him more intimate.
Read about Jesus’ visit with Mary and Martha in Luke’s Gospel:
“As Jesus and his disciples went on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him in her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the feet of the Lord and listened to his teaching. Martha was upset over all the work she had to do, so she came and said,
Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself Tell her to come and help me!
The Lord answered her,
“Martha, Martha! You are worried and troubled over so many things, but just one is needed. Mary has chosen the right thing, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-41
Pray for understanding of the powerful truth Christ taught these two sisters. Martha worried and fretted over the work to be done while Mary sat at the Lord’s feet. Jesus knew strengthening her intimate relationship with her Lord and Savior was the one thing we all need most.
On day five read the letter again with an eye toward ways you can LOVE others as you learn to love yourself more.
On the sixth day, read your Love letter again. By now, at least in your imagination, the pages will be creased and wrinkled from handling them. Phrases will be highlighted and there will be notes in the margins. God’s love will be more real to you than ever before.
Eventually, as you continue to study God’s Word and personalize his message, you will collect a beautiful packet of love letters, tied with a ribbon and kept where you can enjoy them often.
Very soon the love of God will be growing toward perfection in your heart and mind. Through the Word your relationship with God the Father – God the Son, Jesus your Lord and Savior – and God the Holy Spirit, your comforter, counselor and friend, will be a sweet assurance for your future.
Don’t hesitate to read different translations, every day if you chose. Look up cross-references and read footnotes as you study.
Read the entire letter out loud at least once, so that more than one of your senses gets involved. If there are phrases you don’t understand, use a Bible Dictionary and look up the underlying meanings.
While reading this week you are going to get this “love letter” so deeply ingrained in your spirit you’ll never again have to wonder “does God love me?” This letter was written “so your joy could be complete.”
Knowing, without a doubt, God loves ME, brings peace and amazing joy.
Oh! Don’t forget to continue praying “your” prayer from Ephesians every day, too.
Here is my personalized prayer, taken from Ephesians 1:3-10, 16-23; 3:14-21 in my Harper’s Study Bible.
Blessed be the God and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed me in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose me in him before the foundation of the world, that I should be holy and blameless before him. He destined me in love to be his child through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on me in the Beloved. In him I have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of my trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon me. For he has made known to me in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fulness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
I give thanks and ask that the God of my Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give me a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of my heart enlightened, that I may know what is the hope to which he has called me, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come; and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant me to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in my inner being, and that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith; that I, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that I may be filled with all the fulness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within me is able to do far more abundantly than all that I ask or think, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.
I’ve used this amazing prayer for years, both for myself and my family, but also for those God placed in my life as students of his Word.
If there is someone in your life who struggles with following the Lord, insert their name in this prayer and faithfully speak it for them every day for awhile. You will be amazed at what happens. I promise.