A few years ago we walked through a message series at Grace Church called “Essential G.E.A.R. for Following Jesus.” For seven weeks we took a look at a portion of Luke’s gospel that records the conversations and events of Jesus as He takes His final journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. In the first message of the series we offered a practical guide for reading through the Scriptures that enabled each of us to dig deeper into the Bible and to help us apply what we have read to our daily lives.
I first learned of this method while attending a pastor’s conference in February 2003. A pastor named Wayne Cordeiro, from New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, challenged each of us to join him in a simple method of personal Bible study that he had used successfully for years. As a result, I have found this devotional method to be very helpful for me in digging deeper into the Scriptures. This method is also easily reproducible for others to apply to their lives. In light of our outfitter’s image of discipleship at Grace Church, I modified the method to fit within our context.
For those of you who may not remember this teaching, I’ll briefly summarize the G.E.A.R method of Transformational Bible Study.
1. Select a portion of Scripture to read. (During these next seven weeks we will be focusing upon Luke 9:51 thorough Luke 19:27.)
2. After you have read your portion for the day, select a verse or two that seems to stand out to you and that you would like to spend a few moments reflecting upon.
3. Now that you have a verse or two to focus upon, you will begin the G.E.A.R. method of Bible Study.
God’s Word: Write out word for word the Scripture you have selected for the day.
Examine: Now begin to examine what the text is saying by making observations. This is where you answer some of the following questions, “What is the context of this verse?” “What does the text say?” “Who is speaking?” “Who is the recipient?” “What is happening here?” “When is this taking place?” “Where is this happening?” “Why is this event taking place?” “How did this happen?” You also look for key or repeated words. Write down in a few sentences what you have discovered in this examination stage.
Apply: Here you answer the question: “What is God saying to ME through this Scripture?” “How should I respond?” “How does this work in MY life?” After you have a sense of how this Scripture might be applied to your life, spend a few moments writing our your thoughts.
Resolve: In light of what God has revealed and said to you, how will your life be different as a result of reading this Scripture? What will you resolve to do? To be resolved means to come to a definite decision about something, to make up your mind to obey what you have learned. Once you have a sense of how you might commit to live out a lesson that comes from this Scripture, take a moment to write it down as a prayer of commitment.
Now that I’ve unpacked the method for you, let me illustrate this method on a verse of Scripture so that you might see an example of the G.E.A.R. method.
God’s Word: “Blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
Examine: The Lord is speaking through His prophet, Jeremiah, to God’s people in Judah. They have turned from following the Lord and have placed their trust in the strength of other nations who do not worship the Lord. Unfortunately, the majority of God’s very own people have turned their hearts away from the Lord God. In these two verses Jeremiah reveals that those who determine to trust in the Lord and place their hope and confidence in Him will receive God’s blessings and favor. They will stand strong and healthy like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Even in times of drought and distress, these trees will continue to produce fruit.
Apply: Even when my life is in distress and turmoil and I am tempted to place my trust in human wisdom and strength, I must continue to trust in the Lord and His Word. When I place my hope and confidence in Him and develop a discipline of nourishing my soul from God’s Word, then I will be fruitful no matter how difficult the circumstances are at the moment.
Resolve: Lord, I want to thank you for your abundant provisions for my life. In light of this passage, I resolve to begin a daily practice of reading and studying your Word so that my spiritual roots will be nourished and my life will be fruitful and productive.
Let me encourage you to begin this time alone with God and His Word by praying for God to open your eyes to the wonderful truths in His Word. Here are a few sample prayers taken right from the Scriptures:
Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.
Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth!
Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you.
Teach me, O Lord, to follow every one of your principles.
Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
I will put them into practice with all my heart.
There is a popular t-shirt worn by the personal trainers at our local health and fitness center: "The Pain of Discipline or The Pain of Regret!“ Many of us can personally identify with the truth of that statement as it relates to physical fitness. It takes discipline to keep up a lifestyle of fitness. And the reality is, exercise is a pain! But, when we are faithful for season of time, we reap great benefits!
Unfortunately, we can also identify with the flip side of discipline: Regret! When we slack off or simply get lazy, we experience the pain of regret. I’m all too familiar with this pain. There are a number of areas of my life in which I have regretted my lack of discipline: exercise, budgeting finances, learning another language, intentionally focusing on significant relationships, spending time with God in his Word, etc….
One of the areas that I have experienced the pain of regret is being faithful to my desire of journaling in a blog as tool that God could use in the lives of others. Now as Cindy and I launch a brand new chapter in our lives, we pray that this will be used by God as a tool of not only communication, but also instruction and inspiration.
Denny & Cindy Heiberg