Hearing God Speak to you Personally Through the Bible (Matt 5:13-16 & Mark 1:1-20)
- A method for daily Bible readings that you can try out for yourself, which will help you to more clearly hear God speak to you through the Bible.
Mark in a Month
- To show you a method for daily Bible readings that you can try out for yourself
- To encourage you to listen to God through the Bible
- To help you get started with Mark
actually slightly more than a month
- Explain readings & booklet
1. What it means to hear God personally
- All Christians are born again by the Spirit of God and the Spirit lives within them.
- Because of this, God speaks to all of us.
- There are many ways he can do that but one of them is through the Bible
- If you are unsure how God speaks, this is a good place to start
- God speaks to us in many different ways (see sermon series on guidance)
- The Spirit is called the “encourager”
Regular Bible reading is a struggle for more Christians than would like to admit it
- The two most common complaints are:
- that it is difficult to be regular
- that the times are barren and empty
- These two are undoubtedly linked together:
- When the Bible is feeding us and giving us spiritual encouragement, then it is easy to keep reading
- but when we find it dry and tedious it soon becomes neglected.
What goes wrong with Bible reading?
- Ambitious plans
- Pre-packaged food
Purpose: communion with God
- Source of the problems
- Most of the problems in our Bible reading come from a misunderstanding of some basic principles.
- Need for the Holy Spirit: “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” 1 Co 2:12
- The Spirit helps us understand
- “…that we might understand the things freely given us by God.”
- Need to meditate on the Word – be mindfulness not mindlessness
- “his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.” (Psalm 1:2)
- The first principle we must recognize is that we need the Holy Spirit in order to understand God’s Word (1 Cor 2:14).
- It is important to pray before reading
- And what is more, to remain dependent upon God to help us as we read.
- We must realize how easily we can miss the true meaning of a passage, or read our own thoughts into it.
- There must be a submissive dependence on God to open his truth to us, by his Spirit.
- A second principle is that the Holy Spirit speaks to us in the Scriptures via our understanding
- The Scriptures are not like a superstitious magic charm—we do not wear verses on an amulet to get a blessing from them
- The Spirit helps us to understand: “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” 1Cor 2:12
- A third and most neglected principle is that we must take time to think or meditate upon or “soak” in what we are reading.
- So easy to read mindlessly, especially if you know the story
- “Meditation” conjures up the image of an eastern mystic sitting cross legged, but the meaning of the expression in the Bible is to turn thoughts over in our mind, pondering them, and asking ourselves what they mean and what the implications are.
- This is usually when the Spirit works to help us understand what he is saying to us and how it applies to our hearts.
- King David said he meditated day and night on the Scriptures (Psalm 1:2)
A Suggested Solution
- Back in 1981 I met a Bible teacher from New Zealand called Andrew Young who passed on to me a method he had learned from a retired missionary.
- Since then I have used it myself and taught it to 100’s of people.
Seven steps for hearing God speak to you personally through the Bible
- Begin with prayer that God will bless his Word through the Spirit.
- Read through the day’s passage prayerfully, asking God to help you understand as you read.
- You should always follow a plan of reading that takes you right through a book, starting each day where you left off the previous day.
- Never plan to read too much, or there will not be time for the meditation. Ten to fifteen verses is usually ideal, depending on the kind of book. In the Epistles it may be less because there is so much content; but in narratives such as in the Old Testament it may be more.
- Try to find the natural breaks in the book, and stick to these.
- Having read the passage at least once, take out a notebook or journal kept specially for this purpose. Note down at the top of the page the passage reference, the date, and in as few words as possible a title that you can think of for the passage.
- Then comes one of the most important parts. List four or five events or facts, in order, from the passage. The very act of having to recognize and note these down is a great help in understanding what has been read. What’s more, it makes you stop and think.
- Now look back at yesterday’s passage. Can you see any connection? The Bible is not a random collection of “precious truths”, but is organized so that the ideas in one passage relate to those before and after it, and to the flow of the whole book. Much richness can often be gained by relating these ideas together. If you can see a connection with the previous passage or with the theme of the book then jot it down. If you can’t, then don’t feel that you have to.
- Ask yourself what the writer was trying to accomplish with this passage? “What was the message of the passage for those who originally read it?” As you can see, these questions are designed to get you meditating on the Word. The message may have been some specific teaching in an Epistle; something to learn about Christ in a Gospel; something in the Old Testament about how God relates to men and women, etc.
- Finally we come to the most important question: “How does this message relate to my life?” Write down how the message should make a difference to my thoughts or actions. You may find that the Spirit continues to speak to you from the passage throughout the rest of the day.
- Note: A short passage is chosen here because it forms a natural section.
- “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its flavour, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people.
- You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden.
- People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.
- In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honour to your Father in heaven.
Feb 4, 2024
Salt and Light
Context: We know what “saltiness” means from the previous verses (blessed are the…)
Message: Followers of Christ have a responsibility to live out his teachings and influence society which will bring God glory
Application: I need to find more opportunities in workplace situations with unbelievers where I can demonstrate what it looks like to follow Jesus
4. Let’s try it with Mark
- Write the date and passage
- As I read it, see if you can come up with a title
- The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
- “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way,
3the voice of one shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make his paths straight.’”
- “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
- In the wilderness John the baptizer began preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5People from the whole Judean countryside and all of Jerusalem were going out to him, and he was baptizing them in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins. 6John wore a garment made of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He proclaimed, “One more powerful than I am is coming after me; I am not worthy to bend down and untie the strap of his sandals. 8I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
- Now in those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan River. 10And just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11And a voice came from heaven: “You are my one dear Son; in you I take great delight.”
- The Spirit immediately drove him into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness forty days, enduring temptations from Satan. He was with wild animals, and angels were ministering to his needs.
- Now after John was imprisoned, Jesus went into Galilee and proclaimed the gospel of God. 15He said, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the gospel!”
- As he went along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishermen). 17Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people.” 18They left their nets immediately and followed him. 19Going on a little farther, he saw James, the son of Zebedee, and John his brother in their boat mending nets. 20Immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
based on NET Bible
- John prepares, Jesus appears
- The Beginning
- Jesus comes preaching a new Kingdom
- Jesus is baptized by John and begins ministry
Mark 1:1–20 points
- Isaiah prophesied someone to prepare the way
- Isaiah prophesied John and Jesus
- John preached repentance but pointed to someone greater and the coming of the Spirit
- John was baptizing people but said one more powerful was coming
- Jesus was baptized, received the Spirit & the Father’s love
- John baptized Jesus, the Spirit descended on him and the Father spoke
Mark 1:1–20 points cont’d
- The Spirit led Jesus into conflict
- The Spirit drove him into the wilderness for 40 days of testing
- Jesus preached the Kingdom
- Once John was imprisoned, Jesus started preaching the Kingdom
- He called fishermen to follow him
- He called fishermen: Simon, Andrew, James & John to follow him
Mark 1:1–20 cont’d
- Context: For centuries the world had been waiting for this moment
- Context: Introduction to Mark—How it all started
- Message: Jesus is different. Does not compare with John B. If he called you, would you drop everything & follow him?
- Message: Jesus was authenticated by John, the Father and the Spirit —Follow him!
- Me: I say “Yes, Lord!” —I drop everything and willingly give myself to you!
- Me: In some way this call is to me as well! What do I need to leave that I have not already left?
- I continue to think about this during the day, The Spirit keeps working.
- What are your nets?
- How to I make a livelihood? (—no, Jesus is not necessarily calling you to give up your job! But would you?)
- Is there a cost in my life to follow Jesus?
- Now we think about it
- The problem of applying stories to ourselves
Applying stories to ourselves
- Get to know Jesus through stories
(his emotions, how he treats people, etc.)
- Try putting yourself into the story
How would I behave if I was called to leave everything?
- Try bringing Jesus out of the story and into your story
- Jesus was concerned about their needs. Would he be concerned about mine?
- Ask the Spirit!
5. Next time
- Hear some of your stories (I won’t be grading your books!)
- Learn about who wrote Mark and why, and how the book fits together
- Some exciting insights into the big picture that will help you as you read it
- Do some more examples