Give Yourself an Everlasting Gift

Recently the Rosetta Stone language learning software company asked consumers a thought-provoking question. They asked if you would be better off with another gadget, which would soon become obsolete; or would you rather learn another language, which would be a gift that would last a lifetime? Learning another language would help you do well in life plus it would open up other worlds for you, both personally and professionally.
I would like to ask you another question. Would you like a gift that would last for eternity? I am talking about the gift of biblical understanding. For Christmas in 1971 my mother gave me a copy of the Bible. We usually reserved Bible reading for Saturday nights in preparation for church and Sunday School the following morning. Being curious about the Bible, I asked her if it was proper to read it at other times besides Saturdays. She assured me that it was all right to read on other days as well.
My next question was where to begin? I got several different answers. Since I did not know any better, I began “in the beginning” with Genesis 1. Since my sister and I shared the same bathroom while we were in school, I used the time she was getting herself ready to read the Bible. I read for about twenty minutes then spent time in prayer thinking about what I had been reading. I kept reading daily for months. I did not read from cover to cover. After several months in the Old Testament I began reading New Testament books as well. In about two years, I had read the entire Bible, some parts more than once.
My life began to change. I was no longer a trouble maker in school. I started noticing other changes in my life as well. I began going to church more often. I learned to take notes on what I was learning. I began to understand the Bible as I was learning the background to the stories I had been taught in Sunday School. In his book Evangelism Explosion, Dr. D. James Kennedy states that a person should not claim to be well-educated without a basic biblical understanding. It has been the basis for classic art and literature for centuries, not to mention music and other forms of the arts. Many expressions, even in journalism, find their origins in the Bible.
So how can you give yourself the everlasting gift of biblical understanding? First of all, read it for yourself using a translation you can easily understand. Or you can even listen to it. There are several places you can find the Bible on CD or MP3. Get involved in a Bible-teaching church where the pastor uses expository preaching. Get involved in a small group where the Bible is taught.
Expository preaching and teaching focus “predominantly on the text(s) under consideration along with its (their) context(s).” (Quoted in Rediscovering Expository Preaching by John MacArthur, Word Publishing, 1992 p. 9) Exposition balances the art and science of biblical interpretation. Then the message applies the truths learned to life. It strives to make the Bible understandable and practical today.
As you begin this New Year, resolve to give yourself an everlasting gift, the gift of biblical understanding. Discover the Bible for yourself and see what a difference it can make in your life.
Mike McGuire is the pastor of Belvue Baptist Church in Hobbs, NM.