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.
Gal 1 — CONFUSION OR COMMITMENT?
"Some who wish to alter the gospel of Christ must have confused you." Galatians 1:7
Paul exclaimed: "Even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel not in accord with the one we delivered to you, let a curse be upon him!" (1:8) Paul emphasized that the gospel he proclaimed was "no mere human invention" but "came by revelation from Jesus Christ" (1:11, 12). If we have first-hand experience of Jesus, we will not be unstable in our commitment to the gospel.
Prayer: Jesus, may my relationship with You be direct and personal, and not just based on my background and education.
Promise: "The time came when He Who had set me apart before I was born and called me by His favor chose to reveal His Son to me." 1:15-16
Gal 2 — ONLY JESUS
"Not even Titus, who was with me, was ordered to undergo circumcision, despite his being a Greek." Galatians 2:3
The Galatians deserted Jesus not necessarily by committing such sins as adultery, drunkenness, or murder but by relying on circumcision as necessary for salvation. Paul had no objections to circumcision. In fact, he had Timothy circumcised (Acts 16:3). However, he vehemently objected to depending on anything or anyone other than Jesus for salvation. What are you tempted to trust in rather than in Jesus?
Prayer: Jesus, You are the only Lord and Savior, the only Way, Truth, and Life. May I not depend on self, money, medicine, technology, or education. You alone are Lord.
Promise: "I have been crucified with Christ, and the life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me. I still live my human life, but it is a life of faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." 2:19-20
Gal 3 — FAITH OR FLESH?
"I want to learn only one thing from you; how did you receive the Spirit? Was it through observance of the law or through faith in what you heard?" Galatians 3:2
Paul exclaimed: "You senseless Galatians! Who has cast a spell over you?" (3:1) The Galatians had received a lavish outpouring of the Spirit with signs and wonders. Yet they risked stifling the Spirit because they were depending on circumcision and the law for their salvation rather than believing in Jesus. God's promise was made to only one Descendant of Abraham, "that is, to Christ" (3:16). We inherit God's promises only if we are in Christ Jesus through baptism. "The law was our monitor until Christ came to bring about our justification through faith. But now that faith is here, we are no longer in the monitor's charge. Each one of you is a son of God because of your faith in Christ Jesus" (3:24-26).
Prayer: Father, may I live and end my life in the Spirit, not in the flesh (3:3).
Promise: "All of you who have been baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Him. There does not exist among you Jew or Greek, slave or freeman, male or female. All are one in Christ Jesus." 3:27-28
Gal 4 — FREE AT LAST
"In the past, when you did not acknowledge God, you served as slaves to gods who are not really divine. Now that you have come to know God or rather, have been known by Him how can you return to those powerless, worthless, natural elements to which you seem willing to enslave yourselves once more?" Galatians 4:8-9
Formerly, we were slaves to powers beyond us, but Jesus set us free from the law and "the elements of the world" (4:3). We are not only free men and women but also children and heirs of God if only we live by faith and refuse to be manipulated by worldly and spiritual forces.
Prayer: Father, may I not be conformed to the world but transformed by the Spirit (Rm 12:2).
Promise: "The proof that you are sons is the fact that God has sent forth into our hearts the Spirit of His Son Which cries out 'Abba!' ('Father!') You are no longer a slave but a son! And the fact that you are a son makes you an heir, by God's design." 4:6-7
Gal 5 — CRUCIFIED FLESH
"In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor the lack of it counts for anything; only faith, which expresses itself through love." Galatians 5:6
Christians are the only truly free people in the world. We must not go back into slavery by relying on anything other than Christ. "Remember that you have been called to live in freedom but not a freedom that gives free reign to the flesh" (5:13). "My point is that you should live in accord with the Spirit and you will not yield to the cravings of the flesh. The flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; the two are directly opposed" (5:16-17). "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit's lead" (5:24-25).
Prayer: Lord, may I crucify my worldly and selfish desires by moving freely in the Spirit (Rm 8:13).
Promise: "In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness, and chastity." 5:22-23
Gal 6 — "CRUCIFIED TO THE WORLD" (6:14)
"It means nothing whether one is circumcised or not. All that matters is that one is created anew." Galatians 6:15
To live in the Spirit of freedom, we must correct, unburden, support, and serve our brothers and sisters in Christ. However, we will not be free to live such an unselfish life unless by faith in the crucified Jesus we have been crucified to the world and the world to us (6:14).
Prayer: Jesus, may I make a clean break with the ways of the world.
Promise: "May I never boast of anything but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!" 6:14
"Henceforth, let no man trouble me, for I bear the brand marks of Jesus in my body." 6:17
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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