On Sunday, I began a new message series at Good Shepherd. The series is on the Book of Philippians. The first message in the series is available to watch online. I also included a handout to go along with the message. As I preach on Philippians in New Jersey, I would also like to offer some insight through my blog as well. I am limited to what I can share during a Sunday morning sermon but this allows me to add additional input to the study.
I want to invite you to join me on this journey. I shared with you a daily Bible reading plan last week. And I want to encourage you to participate in that Bible reading plan. If you use the plan, you will read through the Bible over the course of a year. I also included an alternative plan that will take you through the New Testament. If you are a first time Bible reader, the New Testament plan is ideal.
These plans help you read for breadth. You will get a comprehensive overview of the Scripture. But you simply read through the text once and then you are on to the next reading. As we go through the Book of Philippians, I want to encourage you to read for depth and not breadth. That is we will read less, but seek greater understanding.
So I have three challenges for you.
1. Read Philippians in One Sitting
Read the Book of Philippians in one sitting. It will take you 15 minutes depending on how fast or how slow you read. There is a commercial that you can save on your car insurance in 15 minutes. Instead of saving on your car insurance, change your life!
The original Greek text is 1633 words. The various English translations will have a similar word count. It is four chapters in total. I know you can do it! And it will not take too long.
I was waiting for my daughter to finish track practice last week. So I opened up my Bible app and started reading Philippians while sitting in the car. I ended up completing the entire book before she came out. And it felt so much better than spending the time checking my email or Facebook.
So much of our Bible Reading is segmented. We read a short section and stop until we pick it up again. But this is not how Philippians was intended to be read. The Book of Philippians is a letter. Think about when you receive a letter. You don’t read a paragraph and put it away to read the next paragraph the next day. You read the entire letter! We would do well to read Philippians in that way. The benefit is that when we read the entire book in one sitting, we are better able to link different parts together.
2. Read Repeatedly
Don’t just stop with one reading of the text. Read it again. Read it repeatedly. Read it weekly. Read it daily if you have the opportunity.
Think about this as a love letter. Did you ever receive a love letter from that special someone? Did you read it once and then throw it away? No! You read it. Then you went back and read it again. You stuck it in a drawer to save it. Later that night, you got it out and read it again.
Think of the Bible as God’s love letter to us. It is not something to read once.
3. Read Different Translations
Each time you read the text, consider reading different translations. I most often use the ESV Translation in my studies. But consider reading the NIV, the NLT, the King James, and the NRSV translations. You can easily access different translations using the Bible app.
The Message translation is one of the most unique translations that provides insight you will not find in any other translation. I don’t recommend the Message as your main translation. But it is a great tool to supplement your study.
Bonus Challenge: Read Acts 15:36 – 18:23
Another section of Scripture that you might consider checking out is Acts 15:36 – 18:23. Acts 16 tells the story of the founding of the Church at Philippi and how Paul became associated with it. We get to meet some of the people at the Church in Philippi like Lydia and the jailer who had his entire family baptized by Paul. The additional chapters tell the story of Paul’s 2nd Missionary Journey. It was on this journey he found the Philippian Church.
Anytime we read the Scripture, it is important that we read it with context. Scripture out of context is a dangerous thing and has led to many heresies. Context also helps us better understand the intent of the writers.
My belief is that reading the Scripture for yourself will do more for you than anything I could ever write or preach. God’s Word is living and active. It will change you when you encounter it. So I pray that you will join me in going deep.