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.
Phil 1 — JOY ON DEATH ROW
"I long to be freed from this life and to be with Christ, for that is the far better thing; yet it is more urgent that I remain alive for your sakes." Philippians 1:23-24
Philippians seems to be a collection of letters for the purpose of encouragement. Paul tells the Philippians that he thinks of them all the time. He thanks God for them and the way they "have all continually helped promote the gospel from the very first day" (1:5). He loves them "with the affection of Christ Jesus!" (1:8) Paul can give such encouragement because he himself is encouraged, although he is on death row. "What of it?", he says. "All that matters is that in any and every way, whether from specious motives or genuine ones, Christ is being proclaimed!" (1:18) For, to Paul, " 'life' means Christ; hence dying is so much gain" (1:21).
Prayer: Father, use me today to encourage a person who is hiding their depression. Also, use me this year to stop someone from committing suicide.
Promise: "I am sure of this much: that He Who has begun the good work in you will carry it through to completion, right up to the day of Christ Jesus." 1:6
Phil 2 — SING ALONG
"Your attitude must be that of Christ." Philippians 2:5
Paul considered it a privilege to suffer for Christ (1:29) and to have his life poured out for the gospel. He, Timothy, and Epaphroditus had the attitude of Christ, which was one of humility and obedience. The early church even had a favorite song about obeying to death on the cross (2:6-11). Do you sing joyfully about suffering for Jesus? Is your attitude that of Christ? Does your knee bend and tongue proclaim that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD?
Prayer: Jesus, may I sing joyfully about suffering for You.
Promise: "Prove yourselves innocent and straightforward, children of God beyond reproach in the midst of a twisted and depraved generation among whom you shine like the stars in the sky while holding fast to the word of life." 2:15-16
Phil 3 — CUT-RATE
"But those things I used to consider gain I have now reappraised as loss in the light of Christ." Philippians 3:7
Paul rejoiced in suffering for Jesus and was encouraged even on death-row because he had come "to rate all as loss in the light of the surpassing knowledge" of our Lord Jesus Christ (3:8). Like Paul, we must not be "set upon the things of this world" (3:19); rather, we should focus our entire attention on the finish line, which is "life on high in Christ Jesus" (3:14).
Prayer: "I wish to know Christ and the power flowing from His resurrection; likewise to know how to share in His sufferings by being formed into the pattern of His death" (3:10).
Promise: "He will give a new form to this lowly body of ours and remake it according to the pattern of His glorified body, by His power to subject everything to Himself." 3:21
Phil 4 — "REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS"
"Finally, my brothers, your thoughts should be wholly directed to all that is true, all that deserves respect, all that is honest, pure, admirable, decent, virtuous, or worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8
Paul's final encouragement to the Philippians is: "Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again. Rejoice! Everyone should see how unselfish you are. The Lord is near" (4:4-5). In Jesus, Who is the Source of your strength, you "have strength for everything" (4:13). "God in turn will supply your needs fully, in a way worthy of His magnificent riches in Christ Jesus. All glory to our God and Father for unending ages! Amen" (4:19-20).
Prayer: Father, may I walk on the waters of all difficulties (Mt 14:29) and be filled with joy and encouragement for evangelism, marriage, family, work, or ministry.
Promise: "You whom I so love and long for, you who are my joy and my crown, continue, my dear ones, to stand firm in the Lord." 4:1
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, April 25, 1997
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 28, 1997
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