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troubling passages: bible study tool


Troubling Passages: Bible Study Tools

“Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilence, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My names sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24: 4-14

Does anyone else ever have this happen to them... you’re reading your Bible, letting the light from the Lords Word wash over you and then,

BAM!

Something you read startles you! Sometimes I think we like to overlook or trivialize these passages. If we can convince ourselves that the passage doesn’t apply to us, it seems a little less startling.

Like Hezekiah in 2 Kings 20, we hear the sobering prophecy of the Lord and we smile and shrug it off, ‘At least it wont happen in my lifetime’ we rationalize. I always found Hezekiah’s response so upsetting! Reading it, I’ve always found myself wanting to shake the guy, “Wake up! Don’t you know, even if these bad things don’t happen in your lifetime, they will certainly happen to one of your descendants, therefore: train up your children in righteousness, intercede for your grandchildren, do everything you can to prepare and fortify your family!” (On a side note, you will see that Hezekiah’s next two descendents to take the throne were wicked, evil men whose sins sealed the unfortunate prophetic decree and ultimately led to Judah’s devastation and exportation to Babylon).

The same is true of us today. Perhaps you are persuaded that you won’t see tribulation because you are in Christ. I challenge you to put aside theological definitions for a season, and simply read scripture at face-value. Don’t come to scripture with a manual of pre-defined words and doctrines and filter everything you read through an un-inspired, man-made manual... rather come to scripture to feast. Feast upon the word of God - reading what the Bible says, looking up the Hebrew and Greek words to aid in your study and MOST IMPORTANTLY: pray and ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and understanding and to lead you into all truth, after all, He is our Ultimate Teacher (John 16:13)!

Jesus was a good shepherd and although it was not popular, he made sure to communicate, prepare and teach his disciples about what would happen following his death. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” As his modern-day disciples we can have peace in Jesus, knowing that regardless of the trouble and chaos, the Lord has warned us about all the crazy and we know how the story ends - He is trustworthy and faithful!

So what should our response be when we read these troubling passages of scripture, passages that don’t necessarily resonate in our spirit, passages that are somewhat ominous? One of the practices I often do which is a study practice that will aid you in any form of literary analysis:

Ask Questions!

I write questions, in the margin of my Bible or in my journal. When you develop a habit of asking questions, you begin reading as a participator rather than as a passive bystander. Formulating good questions sparks your creativity and imagination as you read the living word of God!

I challenge you to make this simple practice part of your regular bible study!

In addition to formulating your own questions, two specific questions that always spur the Holy Sprit’s leading are these:

1. Why do you want me to know this?

2. What are you speaking to me specifically through this?

Example:

Reading Matthew 24:4-14

“Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilence, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My names sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Questions I Asked:

> How do I remain “un-deceivable”?

> What makes a person prone to being deceived?

> Am I troubled?

> Am I the hated minority? How do you prevent yourself from living by hate if you are hated?

> How does love grow cold?

>Why will so many be deceived?

1. Holy Spirit, why do you want me to know this?

Stay close to me. Stay ready. Intimacy with me makes all the difference!

2. Holy Spirit what are you speaking to me specifically through this scripture?

I don’t want you to be troubled by all the crazy uprisings, revolts, famines, earth quakes and such. This is normal and an essential part of my salvation plan. Don’t worry. I got this. And I love you and have not left you as an orphan. In fact, in this crazy season where evil escalates - I am going to show myself Powerful and BIG through you!!!

3. My prayerful response:

Jesus, help me. Fortify me in love. Holy Spirit, daily help me live by love, un-offended and un-moved by wickedness, deceit, and lawlessness. Teach me how to train up my children and my children’s children to live in love, marked by faithfulness and truth.

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