Bulletin articles

Bulletin articles

Making Application

“I don’t get it, why do people pay to read this stuff?” That’s my general reaction every time Joel Osteen writes a book and it rockets up the best seller lists. I really don’t get it. I mean have you read any of this stuff? Scripture light and self-help heavy. And then it dawned on me, that’s why people gobble up this stuff! Osteen along with Beth Moore and a host of others are offering people exactly what they want: self-help books with plenty of ready-made application all wrapped in a supposedly Scriptural package. The masses assume, incorrectly so, that these pop-psychology books contain the Scriptural applications that God wants His people to make in their lives. 

However, you have chosen to read the book that came from God rather than a host of books that are supposedly about God. You want to make the application in your life that God intends, not the cheap catch-phrases sold to the masses. You believe what David said about God’s Word, “Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward.” (Psalm 19:11, NASB95). You long for the word of God and to apply it in your life. If that describes you, then I hope this article helps you in making Scriptural applications, to turn a quick read into a truly profitable experience. I’m not an expert, but I am well practiced and these are the things that help me.

Let’s begin with a couple of preliminary matters. First, when reading the Scriptures don’t rush to make a personal application of the text. Start by trying to grasp the original application. What point is God actually making? How does it fit within context? Answer those questions and then you can make meaningful application of the text in your own life. Take Romans 8:28 as an example: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (NASB95) Many rush to make personal application of this passage, thinking that whatever trial or temptation they experience will lead to some kind of good… in this life. However, when taken in context Paul’s point is that through the redeeming work of God through Christ, we have assurance that all will ultimately be made right again. The Scriptural, and more meaningful, application of the text is a proper perspective on suffering and trials.

Second, make reading more active. Nothing seems better than finding a comfortable chair with your Bible and a cup of coffee, but in spite of your good intentions you may find yourself getting up from that comfortable chair having forgotten what you read. I find reading with a notebook and pen handy to be very profitable. A couple of years ago I took a Moleskine notebook (sold in Barnes and Noble and other places) and designated one page per chapter for the entire New Testament. Actually, since a Moleskine only has 240 pages and there are 260 chapters in the New Testament I had to double-up occasionally, but hopefully you get the picture.

Each morning as I read a chapter from the New Testament I would make an outline of the chapter in the notebook, emphasizing key points and how the points went together. This helped me remember what I had read and to see the points of application. That may be more than you wish to tackle on your daily read, but even so having paper and pen handy will allow you to jot down significant points and help you remember them.

An Easy Method For Making Application

I was probably in high school when I first heard my uncle, and dedicated student of the Word, Leon Mauldin suggest that I ask myself a series of questions every time I read the Bible. The questions are:

Does this text have any commands I should obey?
Does this text have any sins to avoid?
Does this text have any examples that I should know?
Does this text contain any promises to me? Are they conditional or unconditional?
Does this text contain any prayers that I can make my own?
Does this text contain other lessons?
What does this text teach me about God?

(Added later) I cannot count how many times I have related those questions to others. It’s such a simple way to read the text for profit. And also another reason to have paper and pen handy when reading the text. Simply read the Bible and answer those questions and you are guaranteed to come away with multiple points of application.

The past couple of years I’ve been paying more attention to the Psalms in my daily reading (I have another Moleskine notebook dedicated to the Psalms that I’m carrying around). Nothing has helped me in prayer more than reading the Psalms. I’m constantly finding new ways to praise God, to thank Him and to make my petitions known. If you will read the text with these simple questions in mind, you will always profit.

How Can I Be Saved?
Hear - Romans 10:17
Believe - Hebrews 11:6
Repent - Acts 2:38
Confess - Romans 10:9
Be Baptized - 1 Peter 3:21
Live Faithfully - Revelation 2:10

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