It’s Dangerous to go Alone! Take This.

Ephesians 6:10-18 (ESV)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;

and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

In the very first Zelda game (of all time) we met a hero named Link. When players first inserted their golden game cartridges into the NES and started playing, they were brought into the dangerous world of Hyrule. Danger should be no worries for a hero like Link though… right?

When Link starts his journey he isn’t much of a hero. He only has 3 measly health hearts, an olive green tunic, and the courage to move forward. How can he possibly defeat his greatest enemies you ask? Among many other things the answer is persistence, courage, and progress.

Link has:

  • The persistence to keep moving forward despite the fact that there is a very long journey ahead of him.
  • The courage to do what’s right, even though he is young and doesn’t seem fit for such a tremendous journey.
  • The mentality of making progress. Link doesn’t jump straight to the final fight. Instead, he tackles one step at a time in order to grow stronger, strengthen his heart power, and receive necessary treasures.

But every journey has a first step. As Christians, one of our first steps is very similar to that of Links. We need to wield a sword!

The Importance of Reading the Bible

Oldschool Link

Once you set up the name of your character and begin playing the original Zelda you have one obvious step to take. Enter the cave directly in front of you, and get your sword. It’s not hard to do, in fact, the blade is just given to you freely.

So what does that mean for Christians? For Christians our Bible is like a sword, and (much like Link) we won’t get very far without having it, and using it.

Link’s sword has the power to slice through enemies, and shoot laser beams. The Christian’s sword has the power to pierce straight to the heart, and change lives. It is absolutely crucial to our growing as believers.

Without spending time in our Bible we begin to listen to the wisdom of the world instead of God. We can become confused, and when trials and attacks come our way, we just take the hits instead of fighting back.

One of the BIGGEST PROBLEMS with many people who profess to be Christians in this generation is that they never open up their Bibles, (or they do but don’t take it seriously). This is why we have many people that say things like “I’m a Christian, but I don’t believe everything about Christianity is correct…” or “I believe in God, but the Bible is an ancient book, and a lot of the teachings in it are outdated and don’t apply to this day and age”

What the Bible is NOT:

  • Outdated
  • Irrelevant
  • Just a book
  • Not necessary
  • Against logic
  • Boring
  • Made up by humans

What the Bible IS:

  • Crucial for growth and understanding
  • Rewarding to the diligent student
  • Completely relevant
  • Full of wisdom
  • From God
  • Full of evidence that it is from God
  • Integrated between Old and New Testaments
  • Exciting and cool
  • Full of support for belief in Christ

Making a persistent mental decision to read the Bible can be one of the most important decisions of your life. It can transform your thinking and God can fill you with the wisdom and strength you need.

Half-Hearted Bible Studying

Link Shield

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

(Read all of Hebrews 4 here!)

In the original Zelda (and most of the ones to follow) “hearts” represent your health, and when your “hearts” are full you can use your sword at it’s full potential (and shoot sweet lasers from it). When even just a fragment of one of Link’s hearts is missing, the full power of the sword isn’t at Link’s disposal.

When we read our Bibles we need to put our full heart into it. Don’t fall into the trap of reading a devotional in the morning and saying a prayer before bed. While there is nothing wrong with reading a devotional, and there is certainly nothing wrong with saying a prayer, don’t fall into a routine of only giving a minimal part of your life to God.

For a very long time I fell into the trap of just quickly reading a random Psalm or Proverb when it was convenient to me. I’ve also fallen into the trap of just reading a devotional before work, and not touching my Bible otherwise. Devotionals aren’t necessarily bad things, but when it is the only thing you do you should consider digging deeper. Why? Because when you only give your Bible reading half a heart, you can’t wield it’s full power.

Where Should I Start?

Link Sword

This next section is just my advice. We are all different, but these are 5 steps I would give to someone who wanted to start digging deeper into the Bible.

1. Get a Physical Bible

Go out and buy a Bible. Many of them are very affordable. I’m pretty sure I once bought a Bible for $1 at a dollar store. Some Bibles have lots of fancy notes, and life application sections, etc. These can be pretty nice, but often times those Bibles end up being pretty expensive (like $70-$80). The current Bible I’m using is considered a “gift Bible”. It was much cheaper than the “fancy ones” with notes, and it just contains the text and nothing else. Personally, I love this. If I find a verse that I want to know more about there are lot’s of tools for free on the internet. BlueLetterBible.org for example is full of great free resources.

Picking the version of your Bible is a whole different topic. All versions are not “essentially the same”. King James Version is supposed to be the most accurate to the original text (which is super important), but it can also be difficult to read. NIV on the other hand is super easy to read, but takes a ton of liberties in changing certain passage structures and verses. (this is naughty)

So what version should you get? I’m not going to tell you, because you should pray and decide for yourself. I will say that personally I’m currently using an ESV. I suggest carefully researching this matter, and talking to a trusted Christian friend before making a decision on which version to get. Feel free to message me with any questions.

Having a physical Bible (and maybe a highlighter), can be a great way to truly dedicate time to reading the Bible without distractions. It is portable (I carry mine with me in my satchel) and it’s ready for use in any occasion.

Waiting on a ride? You have it with you.

On break at work? Read it!

Want to tell someone about something you recently read? You’re ready to stun!

2. Pray About It

Pray for guidance in reading, a deeper understanding of God and His Word, and a stronger love for God and those around you. When you put things in God’s hands, and take the initiative to move forward, you know you’re in good hands. Understand, however, that: If God shows you something, you have a responsibility to listen.

Talk to God from your heart. Ask Him to help you know Him better, no matter the cost. Let God grow you, and strengthen your faith and love in Him.

3. Read a Whole Book

Reading out of more than one chapter at a time is totally fine, but I have found that I need to be somewhat precautionary about how I go about doing this.

Do you find yourself reading a chapter in Psalms one day, a chapter in Proverbs the next day, and maybe tomorrow Matthew if you feel like it?

 In my humble opinion, I’ve found that studying entire books at a time is crucial to better understanding. Why is this? Because you get the message as a whole, in context (not just a random few verses here and there).

If you want to go through Romans, read a chapter or more in Romans everyday. Start at chapter one, and keep moving forward. When you finish your reading in Romans for the day, feel free to read from somewhere else. It’s totally fine to also read a chapter in Proverbs, Psalms, or any other book.

4. Dig Deeper

When you read a chapter consider highlighting things that are particularly interesting. Buy a notebook for 10 cents and jot down notes about certain topics. Find books or read articles on verses that you have questions about, but be careful. The world is full of people who publish things that are not from a Godly stance, or contain human error. Truly pray about anything you see, read several articles from different sources, and let the Bible be the ultimate resource.

gotquestions.org is a great resource, but once again, you still need to take researching the information for yourself seriously. If you just can’t figure something out, pray and ask God to show you an answer. He is perfect, and doesn’t contain any errors.

Don’t be Mr. Skimmy-pants! 

(I’m hoping the obnoxious red grabs your attention)

When you read in your Bible don’t just skim stuff over. Look deeply into what you are reading, because there is more there than what’s on the surface. In fact, there is more there than you could ever imagine! A lifetime of studying probably wouldn’t scratch the surface, so take it in! Fill up your heart(s)!

Ask questions, don’t skim over them!  For example:

  • What does Jesus mean in Matthew 7 when He says:

Matthew 7:6 (KJV)

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

  • What about Matthew 15:21-27? Do you know why Jesus says that?

These questions have answers, amazing ones at that! After asking the question, go find the answer! If you have trouble finding an answer, feel free to pray about it and then contact me or another trusted Christian friend!

5. Start a Bible Study

One great way to learn, is by actually leading a discussion group. If you teach you have a lot of responsibility to use correct Biblical wisdom, and to live a Christian lifestyle.

James 3:1 (NKJV)

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.

(Read all of James 3 here! It’s awesome!)

Click here to listen to Chuck Missler speak about home group meetings. I highly recommend watching this.

With that being said, I highly recommend getting a group together for a weekly Bible study. If you aren’t a teacher, follow a guide of some sort. Then invite people! Get friends from work/school/wherever. Send a facebook invite to a bunch of friends.

Invite people who want to know God deeper, people who are curious to know anything about God, or a friend that needs God. One precautionary note: Let God do what He wants with the Bible study. When my girlfriend and I helped start a Bible study a while back I anticipated it would reach a certain group of people, but to my surprise it is touching the lives of unexpected people in ways I couldn’t have ever anticipated. This is because in reality it isn’t our Bible study, it’s God’s.

Pray that God will take over (because you want it to be His Bible study, not yours). Leave it open for people to talk, and give their opinions. Bring snacks! Make it fun, because the Bible is exciting! This is something to look forward too!

Where to start:

There are several ways you can go about this

1. Just pick a book in the Bible and study it as a group.

If you are just beginning your Bible journey it would be smart to start in the New Testament. I recommend starting with a Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) and then consider moving onto more of the New Testament. If you know the New Testament pretty well, by all means feel free to study the Old Testament. You can’t fully understand the New Testament until you know the Old Testament! I know I have a long way to go yet!

2. Use a pre-organized “study book” as a reference

Consider getting a book like this, or visit a website like this in order to “guide” your sessions. This can help you to segment out sessions a little easier, and many pre-organized Bible studies do tons of the research for you!

3. Make a power point presentation ahead of time.

Organize your thoughts and verses ahead of time. Have the group follow along with their Bibles and discuss topics.

4. Be Creative

Feel free to make it fun! Do all of your friends love playing softball? Make it softball, and Bible study night! Are you all a bunch of movie buffs? Have a Bible study, and watch a movie afterwards, but use discretion! Be careful not to let these things get distracting. Losing focus on the Bible study part of the night can severely damage a good opportunity. The Bible Study is the most important part.

Conclusion

Link in field

Don’t go into battle without a sword. Much like Link, the sword is easy to acquire, but we have to take a few steps in order to get it. Once we have our sword, we need to work on giving it our full heart in order to wield it at full potential.

Digging deeper into your relationship with God is life changing. Don’t miss the opportunity to grow stronger in your walk.

praying for y’all!

-Caleb

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Photo Source: Oldschool Link, Link Shield, Link Sword, Link in Field,

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