• Tony Birkhead

Simplify Week - 5



To Simplify your Path refer often to the Map!



INTRODUCTION

If you could master one field of study, such as economics or engineering, what would it be and why?


How are the teachings of the Bible distinct from all other teachings we receive?


In your own words, what is the purpose of the Bible? Why is studying it important for the Christian?


In our information-driven culture, people want to know more about everything. People are interested not only in gaining new skills to use in a rapidly changing work environment, but in learning more to grow personally. Unfortunately, many people lack a spiritual hunger for God’s Word, and many who do have the desire to study the Bible haven’t developed the discipline to make Bible study as profitable and life transforming as it can be. Today we will see that pursuing God requires careful, dedicated study of His Word.

KEY SCRIPTURE

Psalm 119:9-16

How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. 10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. 12 Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees. 13 With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. 14 I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. 15 I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. 16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

At every fork in the road, there is a way to go that will be pleasing to God and satisfying to you and me. The right path always exists.


If there’s always a path to what God wants in every decision we make, what are some reasons we often choose the wrong path?


What kind of things happen when we choose to honor God on our path?


Read Psalm 119:9-16

Why is it so difficult often to trust God’s view of things?


Who do you usually go to for answers when you’re struggling?


What would change if you became so familiar with God’s Word it influenced your decisions?


MOVING FORWARD

  • What steps could you take this week to study God’s Word more carefully and thoughtfully?

  • What do we lose if we choose to only study Scripture on our own, rather than being an active part of a biblical community where we can be taught the Word of God? What do we lose if the opposite is true?

PRAY TOGETHER

Close in prayer, asking God to increase our appetite for His Word. Pray that our group will be better students of God’s Word, not just to increase our knowledge but to conform us to His image.



DAILY QUIET TIME GUIDE


HOW TO HAVE A DAILY QUIET TIME

The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.

UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart:Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.

FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God:Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!

INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer):After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.

OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action:Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?


DAY 1

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 1:1-2

Have you ever spent seasons where getting into the Bible felt more like drudgery than delight? Where you felt guilty, because you knew you should be studying God’s word every day, but you simply never felt like doing it? If so, you’re not alone. Hundreds of our readers recently participated in a survey for us (thank you!). And about 16 percent said that their biggest struggle in their devotional life was a lack of desire to “read the Bible and pray.” This certainly isn’t something to feel guilty about. Instead, it’s a reality a lot of us face. But what if it could be different?

Imagine this…You wake up early in the morning and your primary desire isn’t to go back to sleep… It’s to read, meditate, and devour God’s word. It’s to pray to him and seek him. That’s the picture the psalmist paints in today’s verse. Though there are more, I will share one key I’ve found in unlocking this desire for myself. It is simply having a plan for prayer and Bible reading. I know beforehand what I’m going to read, and what I’m going to pray about. If you’re reading this, you already have a desire to know God through his Word and prayer. So what you need to do isn’t try harder… It’s simply to help that desire blossom and grow. It’s to get the roadblocks out of the way.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 2

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

John 1:1-3

The Apostle John opens his gospel with a very bold statement about Jesus in today’s devotional Bible verse. John refers to Jesus as the word or the Greek word is logos. Logos was a common term in Greek philosophy:

Heraclitus referred to the logos as the principle that controlled the universe.

The Stoics said it was the soul of the world.

Marcus Aurelius called it the generative principle in nature.

To the Jewish readers the word or logos was the power and authority of God.

The flow of these first few verses are pretty clear.

The word or “logos” was with God and is God. He did not progressively achieve God status. He is, always was, and always will be God. He is creator, sustainer, and key to life. Everything John writes goes back to this central idea: Jesus is 100% God.The reason John nails this idea in these first few verses is because he knows that his readers are importing ideas about God that will skew what they read- whether they’ve been influenced by the Greek philosophy of their day or the teaching of the Jewish scribes.

That is still true of us today whether we come from a church background or not. As we read the scriptures, as we try to figure out what it means to follow Jesus, as we become a part of this thing called church, we all bring with us preconceived notions of who God is and what He’s about. Maybe your view is based on what a pastor, Bible study teacher, or even parent told you about God. Maybe your view is rooted in some type of universalist spirituality. Maybe you interpret God through the experiences of the past both positive and negative- and it’s difficult for you not to view God through the emotional, mental, and spiritual baggage of your life journey.

The scripture here is giving all of us who desire to follow Jesus a vital challenge: rather than allowing what we think we know about God to define how we view Jesus, let us allow what we learn about Jesus to define and redefine how we view God. If you want to know who God is and what He’s about… if you want to know what God’s purposes, His priorities, His desires, His heart, His mind, then look at Jesus.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 3

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Galatians 5:16-18

Have you ever felt like quitting the Christian life? Perhaps you have tried to be the kind of person you think God wants you to be: You’ve established a consistent quiet time with the Lord, during which you read the Bible and pray. But still you seem to have one struggle after another. So you think that you might be missing something—or that maybe this life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Let this be a comfort: Many believers, myself included, have toiled through periods of defeat.

The key to living a life of joy, peace, and victory is found in Galatians 5. Notice that I did not say a life without conflict or one free of temptation, trial, or heartache. Those are part of the human condition. But we can triumph through the power of the Holy Spirit.

In fact, today’s passage makes clear how vital it is for believers to live a Spirit-filled life. When a person trusts Jesus Christ as Savior, he or she is saved and steps from darkness into light. But believers do not then just stand around. As followers of Christ, we fall in step with the Holy Spirit, who helps us to stay on our feet when we are wobbly, to move uphill without tiring, and to stand again after we have fallen. We rely upon Him as our Guide, Comforter, and source of strength.

Does getting through a defeat feel more like crawling than walking? Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is right with you, and He has all the encouragement and power necessary to get you on your feet again. Our journey with Christ can’t be lived alone—rely upon God’s Spirit to escort you each step of the way.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org


DAY 4

For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:11-16

Many people—including Christians—don’t read the Bible, and one reason is that they don’t understand it. We might expect this to be the case for someone who doesn’t know Christ, but why do so many of God’s own children fail to comprehend the truth of Scripture? Maybe it’s because they haven’t asked for help from their divine Teacher. One of the Holy Spirit’s chief responsibilities is to enable believers to understand the things of God.

When we look at fellow Christians who know more than we do, it’s easy to think, I will never be able to reach that level. The issue, however, isn’t how much knowledge we have right now, but whether we are growing in our understanding. The Spirit will teach each of us what we need to know, not necessarily what others know. Because He wants to us to become Christlike, He’ll give us truth and the wisdom to understand how it applies specifically in our own life.

The Spirit’s goal is not to fill our mind with information but to bring us to a deeper level in our relationship with the heavenly Father. He wants us to understand the truth so we can know the love of Jesus. The depth of Christ’s love motivates us to know Him better, spend time in His presence, and read His Word.

But all these treasures of God’s Word could remain out of reach if you never ask the Teacher for guidance. Each time you read your Bible, ask the Lord for understanding and wisdom. A genuine and intimate relationship with Christ awaits whoever listens and allows the Spirit to reveal the thoughts of God.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org


DAY 5

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9 The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.

Psalm 19:7-10

I read an interesting story about an old miner who had lived the life of a hermit deep in the mountains of Colorado. When he died, some of his distant relatives came to collect his valuables. They arrived to find a miner’s shack with an outhouse behind it. Inside the shack, there was an old cooking pot, some mining equipment, and a cracked table with a three-legged chair that stood next to a tiny window. A well-used kerosene lamp stood as the centerpiece on the table. As the relatives gathered up the miner’s possessions, loaded them in a truck, and got ready to drive away, the miner’s old friend came walking up. He called out to them, “Do y’all mind if I take what is left in that old shack?” “Oh, no,” they said. “Take it. We have all the valuable stuff. You can have whatever is there.” The man thanked them, and off they went. He walked over to his friend’s shack, went in, and looked around for a little bit. Then he reached under the table and lifted up one of the floorboards. Little by little, he lifted out all of the gold his friend had discovered over the previous decades—millions of dollars’ worth of gold. Apparently, the old miner had died with only his true friend knowing his actual worth.

In the same way, our friend, Jesus Christ, wants to make Himself known to us, but we can be like a distant relative sometimes. Yet, if we would get to know Him better, we would discover the riches that He has for us. And where are these riches? They are in His Word. Jesus said, “In the volume of the book it is written of Me” (Hebrews 10:7 NKJV). In Psalm 19, we find a description of the great value of God’s Word in our lives.

First of all, we find that God’s Word is perfect: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul” (v. 7 NKJV). This phrase, “the law of the Lord,” is a Hebrew term that is used to define Scripture. It is speaking of all of God’s Word. So we could also translate it to say that the Word of God, or even the Bible, is perfect. This is in direct contrast to the flawed, imperfect reasonings of humanity today. As society changes, we don’t need to flow with the winds of change. We can stand on the firm foundation of God’s Word.

Second, we see that the Word of God transforms us: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul” (v. 7, emphasis mine). The word convert could be translated, “reviving, restoring, transforming.” God’s Word will revive you. It will restore you. It will transform you. You may find yourself in a situation in which you are revived, restored, or transformed by verses you’ve read a day or a week before, because you had established the discipline of regular Bible study in your life.

Third, we discover that the Word of God gives incredible wisdom: “The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (v. 7). The Hebrew word used here for simple comes from a root word that speaks of an open door. It is the idea of a person whose mind is like an open door. He or she has no control over what comes in or what goes out. This verse is saying that if you study it, if you memorize it, and more importantly, if you apply its truths, God’s Word will make a wise person out of a simple one.

Fourth, we learn that the Word of God is right: “The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart” (v. 8). In Hebrew, this means that the Bible has given us the right path to follow. We don’t have to lose our bearings in the fog of human opinion. That is why we need to read through the Bible verse by verse, chapter by chapter.

Fifth, we realize that keeping the Word of God makes us happy: “The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart” (v. 8). Sometimes people are afraid that if they do what the Bible says, then they will be unhappy. But just the opposite is true. By living what the Bible teaches, you will live a happy life. As you study, as you memorize, and as you read and obey the Word of God, your life will be transformed, and you will be a successful Christian.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org


MOVING FORWARD

One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.

Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…


I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11

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