Knowing God usually starts with being taught about God and His principles by one's parents, or by hearing God's word through a personal testimony, or in church. After that the most efficient way to know God better is to personally study His word, the Bible, and obey it.
Psalm 119:105 - "Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path." (NASV)
Joshua 1:8 - "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success." (NASV)
How can we know God's Word? Don't we have to be theologians? When would we have the time to study the Bible like that? How can we or our children be expected to understand the Bible when the experts themselves continually disagree?��
Here are some simple suggestions which we have found to be enormously successful:
1. When our children were very small we began to read aloud to them from "The Book for Children" by Kenneth Taylor. In doing this, we found a surprising benefit to
ourselves. This book is an excellent overview of the Bible and we parents quickly obtained a much better grasp of the Bible in general. Even when our children were too young to fully understand what they were being read, they benefited by learning to sit quietly for short periods of time (a very handy and much neglected skill).
2. When our oldest son was 6 or 7 years old we bought him some "A Visit with Mrs. G" Bible story cassette tapes. Our main regret now was that we did not purchase them sooner! We thought they were too advanced for younger children, but we have since found that the kids enjoy listening to them over and over again. Each time they do, they pick up a few more details, until they practically have them memorized, and each time their understanding increases a little as well. Our children have gone to sleep listening to Mrs. G (or the Bible on tape) almost every night since that time. Kitty Anna Griffiths (Mrs. G, P.O. Box 150, Station O, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4A 2M8) has over 50 long playing tapes which tell the stories of the Bible wonderfully and accurately.
3. Soon after we began listening to Mrs. G, we were given, by some thoughtful friends, The Living Bible (dramatized version) on cassette. Being die-hard NASV fans, we were skeptical. Thankfully, we began playing them anyway and have since found them to be the
single greatest aid EVER in our lives to our learning the
Scriptures! Our children also have had no trouble following along since they are familiar with many of the stories via Mrs. G. This has led them to memorize at least the gist of an astounding amount of Scripture.
By the way, if you allow your children free access to the much more EXCITING books the world has to offer, don't expect them to delight in the Word of God. Choose only the "best" in everything. We don't even have time in our lives for much of the "good" let alone the mediocre or bad.
"The good become the enemy of the best for want of time." - Bill Gothard
4. Another thing we have found very rewarding is memorizing larger portions of Scripture. Our kids very much enjoyed learning several chapters from the book of Proverbs one year. We all find this book easy to apply to everyday life. One day our son and daughter came running into the kitchen breathless, "Mom! Mom! We just saw some 'young toughs!'" They were referring to some neighborhood teenagers whom they had seen driving around throwing water balloons from their car. They had learned the term "young toughs" from chapter one of Proverbs. Although I have heard so-called "Christian" advice to the contrary, we have found it very helpful and enjoyable to quote Scripture to our children whenever possible. Although we did not know how to do this before we became more familiar with Scripture, it has now become second-nature. Now we are simply sharing our own thoughts.
Question: I love your suggestion about listening to the Bible on tape. How do I get started?
Answer: We purchased our tapes at a local bible book store. The set was very inexpensive, about $50 for the whole thing, I think. You might have to order it. I would HIGHLY recommend getting that exact version (The Living Bible Dramatized Version). I was never a Living Bible fan until I heard it on tape, but I just get so much out of it. Our whole family does. I know that they now have a The New Living Bible (a translation rather than a paraphrase) available on CD, but I haven't heard it, so I don't know if it is as listenable as the version I have.
I no longer worry about about teaching my children to memorize Bible verses. Within a year or two of having the tapes my children knew their Bibles far better that I did despite my many years of reading it. I know it far better now too. You can start quoting almost any passage and my children know exactly what the story is and what is being taught. They can finish many verses for you word for word. They may not have memorized a list of verses exactly, but they know far more verses "almost" exactly than anyone I've ever met (including pastors).��
I have also found that listening to the Bible on tape makes it far easier to absorb large sections of scripture all at once. This in turn goes a long way toward enable me to understand specific verses in their correct context.
Our whole family listens to it every night at bedtime. My favorite book is the book of Proverbs and my husband and I listen to that the most. So many wonderful promises and so much wisdom. Our kids can also listen to "A Visit with Mrs. G" at night if they'd like, so they take turns. Listening to it during the day is beneficial, too. We always have a few tapes in the car and listen there too. When we used to drive to Florida every year, we could listen to the entire New Testament during the ride. It was wonderful. It almost made driving worth it!
Don't neglect the Old Testament when you start listening. The Old Testament gives you the background for the New Testament. Once you know the Old Testament law, you'll have a far better understanding of what Jesus (and others) were talking about it the New Testament. When we first got the Bible on tape, we listened to the first five books of the Old Testament through about 5 times before we listened to anything else. I'd highly recommend doing that.
I'd also caution you against thinking that you have to sit down and pay close attention to every word. My husband had a problem with that for a long time. He never played the tapes unless he had time to sit and listen to them. (Which was almost never except while driving.) Now he realizes that if he just plays them while he is working around the house, or whatever, he will pick up something here and there and the next time he hears the same tape he will pick up other things that will fill in the blanks. We often listen to the same book of the Bible for several days until we've all heard it enough and want to move on. (Some books, like Proverbs, you NEVER get tired of.)
A quick Bible reading Suggestion:
Every time I have a new baby, I use the time I am nursing to read my Bible or some other book I've been neglecting. I take the baby and go lay down on my bed and nurse and read. If there are other little ones to be watched, they can play on the bed or on the floor nearby, or I can do the same thing sitting on the couch. I mean, what else can you do while you are nursing anyway? :-)
A note about the "experts":
Do theologians, pastors, etc. really know as much about Scriptures as they would like us to believe? Did they study the Bible itself in theology school or did they, for the most part, mainly study the studies of other theologians? Since most of us are woefully lacking in our own Bible knowledge, perhaps these experts just appear to be experts. Was the Bible written for everyone, or only for a chosen few to decode and interpret for the rest of us? Remember, Abraham didn't even have the scriptures and did quite well.
Knowing about God vs. knowing God:
"Knowing God results in every other kind of understanding." Proverbs 9:10
Can you know the Bible and still not know God? Yes, I think so. The Pharisees of Jesus time were like that,
"ever learning, but never coming to the knowledge of the
truth". This is my problem with too much of a focus on Bible curriculums, quiz teams, and memorization projects. There's really nothing wrong with any of these things, in fact, they are good for teaching Bible facts, but you must make sure that your children are not just learning facts. They must be learning God principles and His ways as well. They must be learning to know God Himself.
When you and your children read and study your Bibles you need to be searching diligently for hints as to God's character, and His ways. We were
"created in the image of
God". We should always be striving to be who God made us to be; creatures made in His image. If we know who God is, and what His character is like, then we will know what our character should be like, how we should act and how we should think. We'll know who we should be.
Every time you read Scripture, keep this foremost in your mind. Ask yourself why God acted as He did. Ask yourself what character qualities He is trying to teach you by recording these words in His book. Study the other Bible characters the same way. What was their character like? Was the way they acted good or bad? Did God approve? How can we internalize the good character qualities demonstrated in the Bible? How can we become wise in a godly sense.
I love the book of Proverbs. King Solomon wrote it to teach wisdom. Proverbs is full of examples of wise behavior and recommendations on how to act. It is also a book full of promises. Always seek to understand God ways and embrace them yourself, then you will be able to rely on God's promises and will receive His blessings.