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.
Jl 1 — LEARNING THE HARD WAY
"Gird yourselves and weep, O priests! wail, O ministers of the altar! Come, spend the night in sackcloth, O ministers of my God! The house of your God is deprived of offering and libation. Proclaim a fast, call an assembly; gather the elders, all who dwell in the land, into the house of the Lord, your God, and cry to the Lord!" Joel 1:13-14
A terrible locust plague made Joel think of the end of the world and motivated him to call the priests to repent as they called the people to repent.
Prayer: Father, may I consider natural disasters a call to repentance (see Lk 13:1-5).
Jl 2 — MASS REPENTANCE NOW
"Yet even now, says the Lord, return to Me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God." Joel 2:12-13
As we face disaster and approach the end of the world, we must first get the planks out of our eyes and then gather the people to take the specks out of their eyes (Mt 7:5). Then they can remove the specks from others' eyes, and so on.
Prayer: Father, pour out the Spirit of repentance on us.
Promise: "And do you, O children of Zion, exult and rejoice in the Lord, your God! He has given you the teacher of justice: He has made the rain come down for you, the early and the late rain as before." 2:23
Jl 3 — BEFORE AND AFTER PENTECOST
"Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; even upon the servants and the handmaids, in those days, I will pour out My Spirit." Joel 3:1-2
When we repent, the Lord pours out the Holy Spirit on all people. Repentance precedes Pentecost, and a new Pentecost precedes the end of the world.
Prayer: Father, may I not stifle the Spirit (1 Thes 5:19). May I be a part of the Spirit's worldwide movement in these last days.
Promise: "Then everyone shall be rescued who calls on the name of the Lord; for on Mount Zion there shall be a remnant." 3:5
Jl 4 — THE END AND THE BEGINNING
"Yes, in those days, and at that time...I would restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem." Joel 4:1
By the power of the Spirit, the nations opposing the Lord will be destroyed in the valley of decision. "And then, on that day, the mountains shall drip new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk; and the channels of Judah shall flow with water: a fountain shall issue from the house of the Lord" (4:18).
Prayer: Father, bring human history to a glorious conclusion soon.
Promise: "Then shall you know that I, the Lord, am your God, dwelling on Zion, My holy mountain." 4:17
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, April 3, 1997
Imprimatur: Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 8, 1997
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