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.
Tb 1 — TRAGEDY
"I performed many charitable works for my kinsmen and my people. I would give my bread to the hungry and my clothing to the naked. If I saw one of my people who had died and had been thrown outside the walls of Nineveh, I would bury him." Tobit 1:16-17
Tobit, a Jewish exile in Nineveh, walked all the days of his "life on the paths of truth and righteousness" (1:3). At great personal cost, he was a faithful Jew in worshiping at Jerusalem, paying his tithes, and burying the dead. Yet Tobit's life was punctuated by tragedies (1:19-20).
Prayer: Father, may I love You unconditionally, no matter what sufferings I endure.
Promise: "Because of this wholehearted service of God, the Most High granted me favor and status with Shalmaneser, so that I became purchasing agent for all his needs." 1:12-13
Tb 2 — COMEDY
"I sprang to my feet, leaving the dinner untouched; and I carried the dead man from the street and put him in one of the rooms, so that I might bury him after sunset." Tobit 2:4
Tobit got in trouble with the law again for burying the dead. His neighbors mocked him; the birds actually blinded him by dropping bird-dirt in his eyes, and he got into a big fight with his wife over a goat.
(This is a situation comedy, and you're allowed to laugh.)
Prayer: Father, turn the worst day of my life to the good (Rm 8:28).
Promise: Absolutely none.
Tb 3 — PRAYING FOR DEATH
"Grief-stricken in spirit, I groaned and wept aloud. Then with sobs I began to pray." Tobit 3:1
Both Tobit and Sarah, his future daughter-in-law, prayed to die because of the misery in their lives. The Lord answered their prayer not with death but with healing and deliverance.
Prayer: Father, thank You for not answering my prayers in the way I asked but for giving me more than I have ever asked for or imagined (Eph 3:20).
Promise: "At that very time, the prayer of these two supplicants was heard in the glorious presence of Almighty God. So Raphael was sent to heal them both." 3:16-17
Tb 4 — THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
"Now that I have asked for death, why should I not call my son Tobiah and let him know about this money before I die?" Tobit 4:2
Since Tobit had prayed for death, he assumed his prayer would be shortly answered. Therefore, he gave his son Tobiah a final exhortation about living righteously and informed his son of a large amount of money he had deposited in Media.
Prayer: Father, may Christian fathers pass on a great spiritual legacy to their children and families.
Promise: "At all times bless the Lord God and ask Him to make all your paths straight and to grant success to all your endeavors and plans." 4:19
Tb 5 — A DATE WITH AN ANGEL
"For a good angel will go with him, his journey will be successful, and he will return unharmed." Tobit 5:22
The Lord sent the angel Raphael to guide Tobiah on his journey. He still sends angels to help us. Look around.
Prayer: Father, may I have a much greater awareness of what angels are doing and want to do in my life.
Promise: "Take courage! God has healing in store for you; so take courage!" 5:10
Tb 6 — A FISH STORY
"Now when the boy went down to wash his feet in the river, a large fish suddenly leaped out of the water and tried to swallow his foot. He shouted in alarm." Tobit 6:3
Fishermen tell some pretty ridiculous stories, but this one beats them all.
God turned what began as a threatening situation into the means by which Tobit's eyes and Sarah's marital woes would be healed.
Prayer: Father, may I fully use the authority You gave me over every demon and disease (Mt 10:1).
Promise: "Now the girl is sensible, courageous, and very beautiful." 6:12
Tb 7 — A MARRIAGE MADE IN HEAVEN
"Your marriage to her has been decided in heaven!" Tobit 7:11
Tobiah married Sarah, whose seven former husbands were killed by a demon on the wedding night. What will happen to Tobiah?
Prayer: Father, remove all demonic influences from the marriages of those reading this.
Promise: "Be brave, my daughter. May the Lord of heaven grant you joy in place of your grief. Courage, my daughter." 7:17
Tb 8 — A BEDROOM SCENE
"Tobiah arose from the bed and said to his wife, 'My love, get up. Let us pray and beg our Lord to have mercy on us and to grant us deliverance.' " Tobit 8:4
We look into the bridal chamber where Tobiah, before having sexual relations with Sarah, is burning the fish's liver and heart. "The demon, repelled by the odor of the fish, fled into Upper Egypt; Raphael pursued him there and bound him hand and foot" (8:3). What a scene! Actually, the demon may have been driven out more by prayer than by the odor of the burning fish's liver and heart (Mt 17:21).
Prayer: Father, may married couples pray before having sexual relations.
Promise: "Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose. Call down your mercy on me and on her, and allow us to live together to a happy old age." 8:7
Tb 9 — MONEY AND MARRIAGE
"Gabael promptly checked over the sealed moneybags." Tobit 9:5
Tobiah got a wife and large sum of money all at one time. "If the Lord chooses, He raises a man up" (4:19).
Prayer: Father, may the married couples reading this not fight over money matters.
Promise: "O noble and good child, son of a noble and good, upright and charitable man, may the Lord grant heavenly blessing to you and to your wife, and to your wife's father and mother." 9:6
Tb 10 — WORRYING OVER NOTHING?
"His wife Anna said, 'My son has perished and is no longer among the living!' And she began to weep aloud and to wail over her son." Tobit 10:4
Anna was very upset because her son Tobiah was gone for such a long time. She expected the worst, but little did she know that her son had been greatly blessed. Have you ever worried when surrounded by blessings?
Prayer: Father, prevent me from falling into a negative attitude, discouragement, and depression.
Promise: "When Tobiah left Raguel, he was full of happiness and joy, and he blessed the Lord of heaven and earth, the King of all, for making his journey so successful." 10:14
Tb 11 — THAT GALLS ME!
"This medicine will make the cataracts shrink and peel off from his eyes; then your father will again be able to see the light of day." Tobit 11:8
On arriving home, Tobiah smeared Tobit's eyes with fish gall and healed him. Do you have the gall to be healed?
Prayer: Father, heal several people of physical blindness today.
Promise: "When the people of Nineveh saw him walking along briskly, with no one leading him by the hand, they were amazed." 11:16
Tb 12 — ANGELS AND ALMS
"I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who enter and serve before the Glory of the Lord." Tobit 12:15
The angel Raphael revealed his identity and exhorted Tobit and Tobiah to praise the Lord in word and in alms.
Prayer: Father, may I praise You by increasing my almsgiving.
Promise: "No need to fear; you are safe. Thank God now and forever." 12:17
Tb 13 — PRAISE THE LORD NOW!
"A bright light will shine to all parts of the earth, many nations shall come to you from afar." Tobit 13:11
Like Moses, Hannah, and Judith, Tobit praised the Lord after seeing His wonderful works. Like Job and Mary, we should praise the Lord by faith even before we see God's glorious victory.
Prayer: Father, always fill me with Your praises by the power of the Spirit.
Promise: "For they shall rejoice in you as they behold all your joy forever. My spirit blesses the Lord, the great King." 13:14-15
Tb 14 — DEATH-BED PROPHECIES
"Tobit died peacefully at the age of a hundred and twelve, and received an honorable burial in Nineveh." Tobit 14:1
Tobit felt his life was finished at 62 years old, but God had 50 more years of blessings for him. "Just before he died, he called his son Tobiah and Tobiah's seven sons and gave him this command: 'Son, take your children and flee into Media, for I believe God's word which was spoken by Nahum against Nineveh' " (14:3-4). Then Tobit prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, their eventual restoration, and world evangelism. This book ends with a fantastic series of prophecies some of which may be filled in your lifetime!
Prayer: Father, may I see an unprecedented world-wide evangelism-explosion before I die.
Promise: "All the nations of the world shall be converted and shall offer God true worship; all shall abandon their idols which have deceitfully lead them into error, and shall bless the God of the ages in righteousness." 14:6-7
Nihil obstat: Reverend Edward J. Gratsch, June 20, 1996
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 1996
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