Simple Bible Reading Guide
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"The revelation of Your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple." —Psalms 119:130
God's word is intended for all people. For thousands of years God has communicated to millions of simple people through His word. In fact, many things are hidden from the learned and clever but revealed to the merest children (Lk 10:21). Of course, God's word is sometimes so difficult to interpret that we need the Church to teach us. Therefore, highly academic Bible study has its place, but it is not the principal approach to God's word. The word is not primarily for an educated elite but for everyday people praying and reading by the power of the Spirit.
Nevertheless, not many books about the Bible are written to help the average person. What most people need is something short, simple, and practical that encourages, motivates and guides. We need something that will help us read the Biblical texts and not just about the text. This is the purpose of this simple Bible reading guide. "We have aimed to please those who prefer simple reading, as well as to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all (2 Mc 2:25).
Note: The breakdown of the Bible into chapters (although not always adequate) has served God's people for centuries. So in general we will use a chapter-by-chapter structure for our comments.
Be sure to read each chapter of the Bible along with the introductory comments.
P.S. We have prayed before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament about our choice of the verses in this reading guide. We hope the Scriptures will have a prophetic, life-changing power for you.
1 Tm 2 — HANDS UP!
"It is my wish, then, that in every place the men shall offer prayers with blameless hands held aloft, and be free from anger and dissension." 1 Timothy 2:8
To change a church from confusion to power, from trivial pursuits to evangelism, and from sin to holiness, Paul instructed Timothy to emphasize intercession and the development of male leadership, especially in leading prayer. These are two keys to authentic renewal.
Prayer: "First of all, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered for all men, especially for kings and those in authority, that we may be able to lead undisturbed and tranquil lives in perfect piety and dignity" (2:1-2).
Promise: God "wants all men to be saved and come to know the truth." 2:4
1 Tm 3 — FOLLOW THE LEADER
"If a man does not know how to manage his own house, how can he take care of the church of God?" 1 Timothy 3:5
A third key to renewal is the selection and development of leaders. Leaders should be chosen if they have qualities which have made them successful, especially in community building and spiritual warfare.
Prayer: Father, give us strong Christian families that breed exceptional Christian leaders.
Promise: "You will know what kind of conduct befits a member of God's household, the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of truth." 3:15
1 Tm 4 — NEVER SAY "DIE"
"Train yourself for the life of piety, for while physical training is to some extent valuable, the discipline of religion is incalculably more so, with its promise of life here and hereafter." 1 Timothy 4:7
Many Ephesians had turned away from the faith and heeded "deceitful spirits and things taught by demons" (4:1). They distracted themselves with "profane myths and old wives' tales" (4:7). Furthermore, they did not respect Timothy's authority, but rather looked down on him because of his youth. Naturally, Timothy felt like quitting. Paul nonetheless insisted: "Devote yourself to the reading of Scripture, to preaching and teaching. Do not neglect the gift you received when, as a result of prophecy, the presbyters laid their hands on you. Attend to your duties; let them absorb you, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch yourself and watch your teaching. Persevere at both tasks" (4:13-16).
Prayer: Father, may I never give in to worldly pressure.
Promise: "You will bring to salvation yourself and all who hear you." 4:16
1 Tm 5 — STOMACH ACHE
"I charge you before God, Christ Jesus, and the chosen angels: apply these rules without prejudice, act with complete impartiality!" 1 Timothy 5:21
Timothy may have been getting an ulcer because of the tension in leading the Ephesian community. Paul encouraged Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach. Even better, Paul encouraged Timothy to get the widows praying, and the elders preaching and teaching. This would straighten out the church and give Timothy's stomach more than temporary relief.
Prayer: Lord, when things are going bad, may I not turn to novelties but go back to the basics.
Promise: "Some good deeds stand out clearly as such; even inconspicuous ones cannot be hidden forever." 5:25
1 Tm 6 — A NEW LIFE-STYLE
"The love of money is the root of all evil. Some men in their passion for it have strayed from the faith, and have come to grief amid great pain." 1 Timothy 6:10
A church is never renewed until its members have put their jobs and finances under the lordship of Jesus. Authentic Christianity transforms every area of life. If Jesus is not Lord of all, He's not Lord at all.
Prayer: Lord, may I be holy in every aspect of my conduct (1 Pt 1:15). Make my a life-style pleasing to You.
Promise: "Fight the good fight of faith." 6:12
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, April 25, 1997
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 28, 1997
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