After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star at its rising and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Christ would be born. “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they told him, “because this is what was written by the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah:
Because out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod secretly summoned the wise men and asked them the exact time the star appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you find him, report back to me so that I too can go and worship him.” After hearing the king, they went on their way. And there it was—the star they had seen at its rising. It led them until it came and stopped above the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overwhelmed with joy. Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their own country by another route.
Matthew 2:1-12 (CSB)
Years ago, my husband started a Christmas tradition where he gives me a nativity set every year. He searches for sets that are made from different materials — whether porcelain, wood, pewter, or glass. When I set out the nativities, I place the wise men at some distance from the rest of the scene. It’s one way I like to remember that they didn’t arrive in time for Jesus’s birth. After the angels sang and the shepherds came, the wise men traveled two more years before reaching the young King born in Bethlehem.
I often wonder if they were considered wise because they understood the significance of the new star in the sky? Or if they were wise because of who they journeyed toward? Can we be as wise today? Can we stay the course when the road is long? Thankfully, we don’t have to ride a camel across a desert to find Jesus. All we need to do is open our Bibles. He’s right there, on every page.
Knowing how to study the Bible, however, isn’t an instantaneous thing. We don’t master it in a week or a month or even a year. As you prepare for the New Year, here are a few tips for diving into God’s Word as you seek Him with all your heart:
- Prayerfully select a book of the Bible to study.
- Ask God to reveal Himself to you as you read His Word. (Pray the words of Psalm 119:18.)
- Read the introduction to the book of the Bible.
- Note who wrote it and the author’s purpose for writing it.
- Read the entire book you’ve selected, all the way through, from start to finish.
- Write down any questions you have in the margins.
- Look up any words you’re not familiar with.
- Underline any passages that stand out to you.
- Read the book again, but this time slower, savoring each passage.
- Look up any cross references or footnotes beneath the biblical text.
- Rewrite a passage in your journal or notebook.
- Talk to God about the passage you’ve read.
- Ask Him how He wants you to respond to His Word.
Some of your questions about the Bible will be answered with a first or second reading, while other questions may take longer. Be willing to wait for the answers. Remember the wise men? They spent two years journeying toward Jesus. We won’t need that long to understand the major parts of the Bible, but we do want to be committed for the long haul, trusting that a fuller understanding of the Bible will indeed come with time.
The beauty of God’s Word is so wonderfully deep that we could spend a lifetime mining its depths and still find new gems each day. And every day is another step in the journey toward our true home with our Father.
We hope today finds you looking forward to the new year. Thanks for joining us today for this excerpt from the (in)courage Devotional Bible! May your last day of 2018 be full of hope and expectancy for what’s to come.
The beauty of God’s Word is so wonderfully deep that we could spend a lifetime mining its depths and still find new gems each day. -@DeniseJHughes: Click To Tweet