Interacting With Your Bible - Cliff Reiner
This page contains a transcription of the podcast episode entitled, “Interacting With Your Bible” presented by Cliff Reiner.
The Bible is always meant to lead us to Jesus. In this episode Cliff gives practical tips for how to read the Bible for life transformation. Rediscover your Bible as an important key in getting to know God better.
“Hi, and welcome back to our four-part series called “Getting to know God” where we go over the basics in building a great relationship with God. Our last two episodes covered the topics “Who is God?” and “Intimacy with God”. Today’s topic is called “Interacting with your Bible”.
Have you ever been overwhelmed with your Bible? Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start, but God’s word is a precious gift to us and a key to getting to know Him better. The Bible is always meant to lead us to Jesus. So today, our guest speaker, Cliff Reiner has a passion for seeing Jesus’ church built up and sent out with power to reach the unreached. His background is in pastoring in the USA before joining full-time missions in Australia. We hope that this next session encourages you to get hungry for the word of God.”
Hello, my name is Cliff Reiner and i’ll be taking you through a short video on understanding your Bible. So, the Bible. What’s it all about? You know you should be reading it. You have a sense it’s good for you. You’ve probably heard lots of sermons and read many verses but still for many people the Bible can seem a bit removed from their daily lives. Some find it difficult to understand, much less hear God’s voice clearly from the pages of scripture. In this short video, I hope to bring you the why, what, and how related to your use of the Bible.
It’s unlike any book. It’s unique it stands apart from the rest the Bible alone is living and active sharper than any double-edged sword. If you’ve ever struggled with getting into the Bible and really receiving His words into your life in a transforming way, it’s very possible you’ve missed the heart and the point of the whole book. Have you ever done this? Pull the Bible out, point to a scripture, start reading. Well, you missed the point, right? Because the Bible is actually one book, one story, one main message. It’s all about God and His relationship with men and women. It’s the story of God’s perseverance with men and women who break His heart in their rebellion. It’s the story of God restoring men and women to Himself and living with them in eternal glory. It’s all about God and His love for people; for you and me. God’s creation, love, restoration of his creation. So the Bible should be read in light of this. If we miss this, we tend to view the Bible as a series of moral sayings or wise words just to help us get through our day. But we need to see the Bible as one story; God’s story; how He created us, loved us, and restored us to himself in intimate fellowship.
So it’s important to point out here that the reading of the Bible should never be an end in itself. It is always meant to lead us somewhere — to Jesus. You see, the Pharisees (or religious leaders) of Jesus’ day thought that they could gain points or become more religious by knowing the scriptures. Jesus says to them in John 5:39-40, “You diligently study the scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the scriptures that testify about me! Yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
You see the truth is a person not a page.
Jesus says in John 14:6 “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. So, wouldn’t it be sad if you studied and studied the Bible — you could quote verses left and right — and yet miss the point of the whole Bible. The most important purpose for studying the Bible is to come into close personal fellowship with Jesus himself. We should never study the Bible to puff ourselves up with knowledge or feel religious. It is through the Word of God that we come to learn who Jesus is, we fall in love with him, and learn to obey him. If we miss this we miss everything.
So let’s take a look at the basic facts of the Bible. Although it is one story, it is broken up into 66 books with a total of 40 authors. These books are categorized into two sections — the Old Testament and New Testament. The Old Testament reflects the history of God’s people before Jesus came, and the New Testament talks about the life of Jesus, and then the life of God’s people as the church after Jesus ascended into heaven. Now all of the books of the Bible were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit — that’s what sets the Bible apart from any other book on your shelf. The Holy Spirit moved through the authors of the Bible and breathed God’s word through them. It is an infallible book. That means it is without error. It is alive. Meaning its relevance and power hold true yesterday today and forever. 2 Timothy 3:16 says “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”. Oh all scripture is God-breathed! His word stands apart. It is more important than any other piece of writing or literature you own.
Isaiah 40:8 says this, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever”. Every word that God says is true. He never lies. He makes good on all of His promises, so we can trust in His words.
So, what will you really gain from reading and applying God’s word — the Bible?
First of all, you will gain a close personal relationship with Jesus. Remember, that’s the whole point of getting into God’s word in the first place. Throughout the Bible we get to know God in His character and His ways. He intentionally shows us what He is like. How amazing is that?! The more we read about God the Father, Jesus his Son and the Holy Spirit, the more we learn to love Him and obey Him.
You will also gain a greater hunger for God by reading the Bible. One big reason you might struggle with reading the Bible is that you just don’t feel like it. You struggle with understanding it and you find it boring. You don’t really have an appetite for God’s word. Why is that? It’s because you’re not used to eating His word. What do you get hungry for? That which you eat. Why do you get hungry for instant noodles, popcorn, cereal or another snack around 9 p.m every night? Well, it’s because you eat it at 9 p.m. every night. You get hungry for that which you eat. The practice of reading God’s word will develop a hunger for God’s word. It’s not the other way around. You will never get hungry for God’s word if you don’t start regularly reading it.
What else will you gain from reading God’s word? Power for life and godliness. 2 peter 1:3-4 says “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” Do you see what it says in this passage? We have access to God’s divine power for everything we need for life and godliness. Do you want that? Do you need that? Yes! But how will you get that? Look again at the scripture. It is through our knowledge of Him (that’s God) that we will gain His divine power. It also says that God has given us His great and precious promises and through them we can participate in his divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. Here’s the point we get to know God through His word. We get to know God’s promises through His word. If you know God and His promises, you will have everything you need for life and godliness.
You know what reading God’s word will also bring you? A life transformed. Romans 12:2 says this “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will”. You see, your mind gets renewed as you keep washing it with the truth of God’s word and the end result of that will be your life is transformed. You can spend lots of time at the gym working on your body; lots of time in the classroom working on a degree; and lots of time in the music room working on your skills; but take time to read and apply God’s word and you will be transformed.
Well, how can you effectively understand and use the Bible? That’s a question we often leave unanswered and then just get used to a life of randomly reading scripture passages with no real effect in our lives. Hebrews 4:12 says this “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”. The word of God is a sword. It is living and active. What’s the purpose of a sword? It’s to be used, to fight, engage with the enemy, to defend, to extend territory. Here’s the point the Bible was created to be used more than studied. It’s a sword after all. Could you imagine what would happen if a whole army went on to the battlefield in the face of the enemy and then just sat down and began looking over their swords, studying every inch of it? What would happen to them?
A big reason that the Bible is relatively ineffective in our lives it’s because we think it’s meant to be studied more than used. When Jesus called his disciples by the seashore he said “Come, follow me”, not “Come, study me”. He first called for their obedience. After they dropped their nets and followed him, they continued to study Jesus — his character and his ways. So, when we talk about how to understand the Bible, we need to have the use or the application of the Bible front and center. The most important question is not how to understand the Bible but how to apply the Bible. It is in the application of the Bible that we find the most transformation and growth of the deepest relationship with Jesus.
Now, we all have different learning styles. Some of us are fine to sit still in a chair, read a book remember what it says, and even take a test on it. Others are not like that. There are others that learn best by moving their bodies by doing something — kinesthetic learners. One learning style is not better than the other, they’re just different. So of course we will all approach God’s word a bit differently based on our learning styles. But here’s the truth — no matter what your learning style is, we need to be active with God’s word.
You’ve heard of ‘quiet times’, you know you should be having a ‘quiet time’. Sometimes our ‘quiet times’ when we read the Bible are really quiet times … sleepy times. “But I read my two chapters”, you say, “please pat me on the back…”
Remember, the Bible is a sword. We need to learn how to use it! So, what are some principles of using God’s word?
First, be application focused. In other words, whenever you read God’s word be asking the Holy Spirit “How can I obey you more, worship you more, or love you more by what I am reading? What can I do in response to these words I am reading?” Active participation with the Bible is the key. You don’t want to read God’s word and say “Hmm, that was interesting” and then close His word moving on with your life. Practicing casual interest in the Bible will leave it in the category of a math or a history book that is just interesting. Be asking God, “How do you want me to respond to this passage?”
Here’s a simple way for you to remember how to use God’s word: Say it. Pray it. Obey it. And replay it.
Say it means read the word of God out loud. It’s so important to get it out of your mouth. Hear yourself saying the word of God. There’s power in your declaration.
Pray it. Use the word of God as a sword as you pray. You run out of things to pray? So do I. Well, use the word of God as you pray over your family, over yourself, and over your community.
Obey it. Remember to find the application step. “Jesus, how can I love you more, worship you more, or obey you?”. Jesus wants us to go into the world and teach people to obey him, not just read about him.
And then replay it. That means meditate on His word. Go over it again. Speak it out again and even share it with somebody else. That way, the word of God gets ingrained in us.
In God’s word you can use different methods to begin. If perhaps you’re just starting out you could use the book of Mark. It’s a gospel. The life of Jesus — very action oriented. And as you look at the book of Mark, you can be asking Jesus: “Who are you? How do you talk? What do you say? How do you treat people? How do you treat people who don’t like you? How do you listen to God and obey him?” We can learn all about Jesus and his ways and find out how we are to live our lives as we walk through the gospels.
Perhaps you’d like to take another book of the Bible and just work your way through it. Sometimes people might start at the very beginning of the Bible, and go all the way through in a “read the Bible in one year” reading program.
You could also take a topic, a category. For example perhaps you’ve been struggling with fear and so you look up all the verses related to fear and you let God’s truth renew your mind.
So there are many resources that you can go to many apps on your phone mobile device or on the computer — the Bible project is a great resource to find out what the Bible is like in its entirety. But you can also go to the YouVersion Bible app. There’s many translations, even the audio Bible is on there. Many languages of the Bible that you can find. There are also devotional reading plans to help you get started walking through the Bible. There is the Olive Tree Bible app. There is the Blue Letter Bible Bible app if you want to get more in depth with original languages; the Hebrew and the Greek. Lots of different resources but remember the point is actually using it for application.
Now just to end with this Psalm 119 — the longest chapter in the Bible — let me summarize it for you. The psalmist says this, “Oh how I love your word. I delight in your laws. I love your precepts. They are so good. Your word gives me boundaries, protection. It shines the light for my path. It helps me stay away from sin.” You see, the psalmist has cultivated a love for God’s word and that is God’s heart for you and me. Not just religiously reading this book, but cultivating a love for His word because we know these words come straight from the mouth of God. We love his word because we love Jesus.
So my hope and prayer is that as you practice getting into His word, eating his words, reading his words, that the hunger for God will grow, the hunger for his word will grow, and you will learn to love Jesus more and more.
We hope this teaching has stirred up your heart for scripture and gives you some direction for where to start.
Here are a few questions that might be helpful to ponder:
- – What are some current reasons you do or don’t read your Bible?
- – What are some stories or scriptures that have changed your life and how have they brought you closer to Jesus?
This week we want to encourage you to spend time intentionally seeking God through the Bible. Perhaps create a plan for how you can continue to read your Bible in these next few weeks. Remember: Say it, pray it, obey it, then replay it.
Thank you for joining us on today’s episode. If you want to discover more of God’s redemptive thread throughout the Bible you can check out our free Bible course on Instagram. That’s right we uploaded an entire Bible course on Instagram TV, so it is free and easy to use. Just follow YWAM Newcastle to view all 11 teaching videos.
Thanks again and we hope you can join our next and final episode of our getting to know God series.