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II Timothy 2:15
   Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

   We stand approved before God when we study and rightly divide His Word.  The first thing you must do to study God's Word is READ it!

Luke 4:16-17
   And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
   And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias.  And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

   Jesus Christ had made a habit (as his custom was) of reading God's Word.  He read it himself and he read it to others in the synagogue on the sabbath day.  He had read and studied God's Word to the point that when the book, or scroll, of Isaiah was brought to him he could "find the place where it was written."  The scrolls in the synagogue did not have chapters and verses as do our Bibles today.  He had to unroll the scroll and find the place he wanted to read to the people.  He must have read it before.

   Jesus Christ also expected those that questioned him regarding the Word he was teaching to have read the Word.  In fact he frequently began his answers to their questions with:

Matthew 12:3a
   But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, . . .

Matthew 12:5a
   Or have ye not read in the law, how that . . .

Matthew 19:4a
   And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he . . .

Matthew 21:16a
   And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say?  And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, . . .

Matthew 21:42a
   Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, . . .

Matthew 22:31
   But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying,

   Jesus Christ read God's Word, expected others to have read it, and directed those who wanted to know God's will to read it:

John 5:39
   Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

   When Moses was first given the written Word of God, the first directions that God gave him was to read it to the people and command that it be read often.

Exodus 24:7
   And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.

   The reason for reading the Word was so that the people would be obedient and do it.  You cannot do the Word if you do not know the Word.

   When God gave Moses directions regarding the children of Israel settling in the promised land, He recognized that they would want a king.  God told them that if they decided to have a king that one of the requirements would be that the man would have to be someone that God selected and that the king should be directed to read God's Word:

Deuteronomy 17:18-19
   And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:
   And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:

   The king was to make a copy of the Word of God, keep it with him, and read it all the days of his life.  Once again, the reason for reading the Word was so that he could DO the Word.   You cannot do God's will unless you know God's will.  God's Word is His will.  You cannot know God's Word unless you READ God's Word!

   Once in the promised land, Joshua continued the practice of reminding the people of God's Word by reading it to them:

Joshua 8:35
   There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.

   The Word of God is not just for the priest or kings.  Joshua read it to all the people.  The men and the women; the children; and even the strangers (people not of the children of Israel) that were living with them.

   Later when the children of Israel had turned away from God and Jerusalem had been captured, a believer named Nehemiah led them back to the Word of God and got permission to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.  When the wall was re-built, Ezra the scribe brought out the Word and he and the Levite leaders read the Word to the people.

Nehemiah 8:8
   So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

   They read it clearly.  They explained the meaning of the words.  They helped the people to understand the Word.  Once again, the first step in understanding God's Word is to READ it!

   What about the Word of God written to us today?  How do we understand that which is written to us?

Ephesians 3:3-4
   How that by revelation he [God] made known unto me [Paul] the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
   Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

Colossians 4:16
   And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

I Thessalonians 5:27
   I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.

   Just as the Word given to Moses was to be read by individuals and read to others, the Word of God written to us is understood by reading it.  In the first century church, Paul was given the Word of God for our day and time which he wrote in epistles.  Although addressed to certain churches, the Word is for all born again believers.  The believers in the first century were directed to read the epistle written to them and pass it on to other fellowships in other cities.

Acts 17:11
   These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

   As Paul held forth the Word of God in Berea, those who heard him teach the Word checked out what he was teaching in the scriptures.  The Word of God declares that when these people heard the Word they were more noble than those that Paul had spoken it to in Thessalonica, because they received it with all readiness of mind - they were willing to listen and ready to believe it; AND they searched the scriptures DAILY, whether those things were so.  They did not just "take it on faith."  They checked it out in the written Word.

   It is clear that God wants us to read His Word every day.  We should also read it to others.  The reason for reading, throughout the history of the Word, is to understand the Word to the end that we DO IT!  You cannot do God's Word unless you know it.  And you cannot really know God's Word unless you read it often.

Psalm 1:1-2
   Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
   But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

April, 1999
Michael Cortright