Simple Bible Reading Guide
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"The revelation of Your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple." —Psalms 119:130
God's word is intended for all people. For thousands of years God has communicated to millions of simple people through His word. In fact, many things are hidden from the learned and clever but revealed to the merest children (Lk 10:21). Of course, God's word is sometimes so difficult to interpret that we need the Church to teach us. Therefore, highly academic Bible study has its place, but it is not the principal approach to God's word. The word is not primarily for an educated elite but for everyday people praying and reading by the power of the Spirit.
Nevertheless, not many books about the Bible are written to help the average person. What most people need is something short, simple, and practical that encourages, motivates and guides. We need something that will help us read the Biblical texts and not just about the text. This is the purpose of this simple Bible reading guide. "We have aimed to please those who prefer simple reading, as well as to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all (2 Mc 2:25).
Note: The breakdown of the Bible into chapters (although not always adequate) has served God's people for centuries. So in general we will use a chapter-by-chapter structure for our comments.
Be sure to read each chapter of the Bible along with the introductory comments.
P.S. We have prayed before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament about our choice of the verses in this reading guide. We hope the Scriptures will have a prophetic, life-changing power for you.
1 Jn 1 — DO YOU KNOW HIM OR JUST ABOUT HIM?
"God is Light; in Him there is no darkness." 1:5
Some members of John's community did not have a deep personal relationship with Jesus. This left them open to all sorts of confusion and deception from the evil one. Some maintained they had fellowship with Jesus, were free of the guilt of sin, and even that they had never sinned. However, they were liars or self-deceived because they did not know Jesus personally.
Prayer: Jesus, may my relationship with You be much deeper than any other relationship of mine with spouse, parents, children, or friends.
Promise: "Our purpose in writing you this is that our joy may be complete." 1:4
1 Jn 2 — LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP
"The man who claims to be in light, hating his brother all the while, is in darkness even now. The man who continues in the light is the one who loves his brother; there is nothing in him to cause a fall." 2:9-10
Because of false teaching and self-deception, many in the community were unsure of themselves in their relationship with the Lord. John instructed them: "The way we can be sure of our knowledge of Him is to keep His commandments" (2:3). "The way we can be sure we are in union with Him is for the man who claims to abide in Him to conduct himself just as He did" (2:5b-6). This means we should love people as Jesus did. This is possible only if we "have no love for the world, nor the things that the world affords. If anyone loves the world, the Father's love has no place in him" (2:15). This obedience and separation from the world assures us that we love the Lord and will have victory over the antichrists in the final hour.
Prayer: Father, empty me of love for the things of the world and fill me with love for You and Your family.
Promise: "I address you, children, for you have known the Father. I address you, fathers, for you have known Him Who is from the beginning. I address you, young men, for you are strong, and the word of God remains in you, and you have conquered the evil one." 2:14
1 Jn 3 — LOVE NEVER FAILS (1 Cor 13:8)
"See what love the Father has bestowed on us in letting us be called children of God! Yet that is what we are." 3:1
When Christians lack a deep relationship with the Lord and problems abound in the community, the answer is love. We must receive the love of the heavenly Father and then give this love to one another, even to the point of laying down our lives. Beloved, "this, remember, is the message you heard from the beginning: we should love one another" (3:11).
Prayer: Father, may I not be "among the living dead" (3:14) but receive and give Your unconditional love.
Promise: "It was to destroy the devil's works that the Son of God revealed Himself." 3:8
1 Jn 4 — GOD IS LOVE (4:16)
"We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us." 4:16
"Many false prophets have appeared in the world" (4:1). The spirit of the anti-Christ is "in the world already" (4:3). However, we "have conquered the false prophets" (4:4), in the same way Jesus did by love.
"Love, then, consists in this: not that we have loved God but that He has loved us and has sent His Son as an Offering for our sins" (4:10). "We, for our part, love because He first loved us" (4:19). "God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him" (4:16).
Prayer: Father, may I realize, receive, and give Your love as never before. May I live in the very atmosphere of love (Jn 15:9).
Promise: Promise: "Beloved, let us love one another because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten of God and has knowledge of God. The man without love has known nothing of God, for God is love." 4:7-8
1 Jn 5 — FAITH-FUL LOVE
"Jesus Christ it is Who came through water and blood not in water only, but in water and in blood. It is the Spirit Who testifies to this, and the Spirit is Truth." 5:6
Love and faith go together. "Although you have never seen Him, you love Him, and without seeing you now believe in Him" (1 Pt 1:8). "Love never fails" (1 Cor 13:8), "and the power that has conquered the world is this faith of ours" (5:4).
"I have written this to you to make you realize that you possess eternal life you who believe in the name of the Son of God" (5:13).
Prayer: Father, may I hold up faith as a shield (Eph 6:16) to guard me against worshipping idols (5:21).
Promise: "Anyone who sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, should petition God, and thus life will be given to the sinner." 5:16
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, August 8, 1996
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 12, 1996
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