Resting in the Father’s love

Those who are in Christ Jesus are children of God.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1)

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)

My main focus this year is seeking greater intimacy with our Father. This has led me to constantly evaluate my walk with God. It is easy to start judging my relationship with Him as short of the mark – my mark. I can’t do as much in the community we are serving as I would like to; we have our fingers in too many pies; my “quiet times” with God are never quiet, but outside whilst my busy toddler runs past me shouting: “Mummy look!! Loooook at me!!!” . . . Yet God is quietly reminding me that He died to save me for adoption. He didn’t free me from one slave master to be my new taskmaster. He died so that I may be His beloved child. WOW!

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11)

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:6-7)

Sitting in the Father’s love

A side note on Roman adoption is important here. Today, we tend to see examples where adopted children are either treated the same as the biological child or, sadly (especially in the third world), taken is as a form of glorified slave. This was NOT the case in Roman culture. By Roman Law, an adopted child had MORE rights than the biological child. For example, a biological child could be disowned, and adopted child never could be; an adopted child was one hundred percent secure in their relationship with their adopting father! (I advise you to look into Roman adoption as there is a lot more to unpack, just not so relevant to this train of thought).

Pursuing intimacy with God is discovering Him as my loving, gracious, merciful Father. It is finding Him to be a Father who delights in time with me, however it looks. He loves being part of my play time with my son; He doesn’t need me to wear myself out pursuing unrealistic expectations; He achieves His purposes in His time and by His strength – not mine. He wants me to rest in His presence and enjoy His love.

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:13-17, emphasis added)

Yes, He has set me tasks to do. Yes, we suffer for the Gospel, too. And, yes, there is an urgency in my spirit for the lost. But it is in His strength that we build His kingdom, not our own. It is through His Spirit that we endure. He is our daily bread; He is our sustenance; He is our first priority. The first commandment is “love God”, the second is to “love others”. Everything else will flow out from this.

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. (Revelations 2:4, emphasis added)

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:3)

I am learning a lot about Abba Father’s love through watching Glenn with our son ❤

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Removing the veil

Moses’ face shone with the reflected glory of God when he returned from speaking to God on Mt Sinai, and seemingly every time after whenever he spoke to God. Moses would relate God’s message to the people of Israel, as they beheld his shining face, then he would wear a veil until he went back into God’s presence. (See Exodus 34:29-35). The account makes it seem that he put the veil on, not to hide the glory of the Lord, but to hide its diminishing. 

Whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he would remove the veil, until he came out. And when he came out and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face was shining. And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with him. (Exo 34:34 -35).

Paul corroborates this in 2 Corinthians when he talks of the Law having been brought to an end, even though it had glory for a time:

Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. (2 Corinthians 3:12-13).

God has challenged me through this concept of the veil hiding His glory’s diminishing on Moses. There are many times when I have tried to “veil” (cover up) His diminishing glory in my life. Moses face shone most gloriously straight after time with God. How true this is for us today! How often do I hear comments about how crucial daily time with God is to Christ-likeness through the day. We only reflect His glory. A mirror cannot reflect our image if we are not looking into it; we cannot reflect the glory of God if we are not spending time in His glorious presence! 

It can be too easy to try and hide the diminishing of His glory, rather than top it up with fresh time in His presence. We might use the words to sound like we are still spending time with God; we might talk about what we know He wants, rather than how we are living it out; we might share old testimonies rather than new ones; or refer to old lessons rather than current ones. However we hide it, the outcome is the same: our glory diminishes if we do not return to His presence. 

Hiding my diminishing glory behind the veil

We are called to be lights to the world. We need to shine so that the world can see Christ, the true source of Light and Life. We shine when we reflect Christ.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

Let us not hide our lights when they start diminishing. Let us not be like the foolish virgins who did not keep enough oil and missed the Bridegroom as they went out for more.

And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. (Matthew 25:8-10)

Let us keep entering His presence and thus filling up our oil to keep our lamps burning with His glory.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

How do you need to seek more time in His presence? In His Word? By journalling of His goodness in your life? By interceding for a family member or friend? By praying into a situation causing you stress? By laying aside your priorities and prioritising time soaking in His presence? Seek His glory daily; do not hide its diminishing. 

Removing the veil and meeting with Him

Choosing intimacy

December seems to be the month of relaxation. Christmas time can be hard for many, due to absent loved ones, but overall the season is one where people relax. Work slows down. School is out. Beaches (in the Southern Hemisphere) are full. This year we noticed that it was also a season where many people seem to take a spiritual holiday. I found this an interesting observation, given it is meant to be when we remember Emmanuel, God come down to be with us.

This year, I realised that I was amongst the spiritual vacation-ists. I certainly spent plenty of time reflecting on what Christ did for us, and had fun starting to teach my toddler about Christ’s birth, the Word made flesh. Yet, as church activities wound down for the year and many of our congregation went away to their family homes, I noticed that my form of relaxation also took me away from intimacy with my Father. I reflected on the story, but didn’t engage with our God, the centre of the story! It was easier to enter my usual form of escapism – reading fiction. (Perhaps, for you, it is social events, computer games, beach time, cooking, . . .).

Book worm disengaging

Now, don’t get me wrong, reading wholesome novels in itself is not bad. The fault lay in that I became completely absorbed in them, taking all my free time (not much with a toddler!); there was no time left for conversing with my Father. I put myself before God. I didn’t trust Him to fill up my cup, which was feeling mighty empty at year’s end.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (Psalm 23:5).

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:11).

The Spirit started prompting me. He started gently reminding me of my need for time with Him. My soul cried out for more time in His presence.

A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1)

It is easy to ignore the Spirit’s nudge and choose not to return to a place of intimacy with God. It takes effort to engage in any relationship; effort I didn’t feel I had the strength for. I hope that if you are feeling similar promptings that you will prick up your ears at this point. Thankfully this time I am choosing to heed the gentle nudge. If you’re in a similar place, thinking it easier to put it aside for “tomorrow”: don’t. We need God daily. We need to interact with Him daily. He is our daily bread. He is our sustenance.

Give us this day our daily bread, (Matthew 6:11).

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. (John 6:35-36).

Choosing to submerge yourself again into a deep relationship with God can seem tiring. It is tempting to continue to pursue your escapes – whether wholesome or worldly – but they will not satisfy. God is the One who satisfies the longings of our souls.

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, (Psalm 63:5).

More satisfying than rich food

So, as this new year starts, choose to renew your relationship with God. Choose to make time to sit and dwell in the presence of the Almighty. Seek Him. Meditate on His Word. Sing songs of praise. Intercede for family. Listen to His wisdom for your work, family, finances, free time. Enagage in Bible study. Listen to Bible teachings. Allow Him to mould your character into that of Christ.

when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.  (Psalm 63:6-8).

Yes, it will take discipline of mind and body, but this is part of being a child of God. Self-control appears repeatedly in the epistles as a fruit of the Spirit, and a part of a godly life (1 Cor 9:25, Gal 5:23, 1 Tim 2:9, 1 Tim 2:15, 2 Tim 1:7, 2 Tim 3:3, 2 Pet 1:6). Proverbs sums up the alternative, what we’re like if we choose to live an undisciplined life:

Like a city with breached walls is a man without self-control. (Proverbs 25:28; ISV*)

It takes discipline to cut off the areas in our life that hold us back from intimacy with God. Do you have such self-control? Do you think God worth pursuing? Cut off what holds you back and enter into the presence of the King of kings. Make a commitment to escape into daily times of intimacy with God and enjoy the rewards. 

So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, (Psalm 63:2-5).

 

*Scripture taken from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version® Release 2.0. Copyright © 1996-2010 by the ISV Foundation. Used by permission of Davidson Press, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY.

Intimacy rekindled

New Year’s Eve is often a time of reflection. I try to take it as a time to reflect on all God brought me through during the year and to pray into the next one. This year has been another busy one (Does life continue to get busier every year? I’m telling myself it will start reversing speed once I pass the mother-of-toddler-years . . .). It seems appropriate that God would speak to me from Luke 5:16 as this busy year concludes. This past week God has reminded me of the most important part of our life: intimacy with Him! Jesus modelled this to us:

But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. (Luke 5:15-16)

The world is becoming a busier place, with more distractions than ever. God had me give up Facbook the past three months and I’m not sure that I want to go back onto it in the new year, and this is just one example of (what can be) a glorious time waster in my life. The world likes to distract us from God, yet He is the most important part of our daily life.  He should be our most treasured relationship, and the most pursued one.

As the new year begins, He is reminding me to find the desolate places in my world to which I can run away and pray. My current “desolate places” are early morning before workers arrive (our house is being transformed into a mission station, so lots of noisy renovations!), toddler nap time, and late evening. In the past, it has been a favourite walking track, quiet forest spot, and evening journalling sessions. We are all different; God is an intimate God. Where are your desolate places? Do you go out to the desolate places to pray? Do you find the quiet places you can listen to Him?

In the new year, my heart’s desire is to do all that the Father tells me, doing nothing of my own accord. This can only be achieved through intimacy, and constant time in His presence, both talking and listening to Him.

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. (John 5:19)

I also have had certain flaws in my character highlighted (don’t we all!) where I pray for growth. Again, this can only be achieved by time in His presence. We usually take on the characteristics of who we spend the most time with. Spending time with Jesus, in prayer and His Word, is how we will be transformed into His likeness.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,  bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17).

This new year, withdraw to the desolate places, and pray!

Where is your desolate place?

 

Christmas tree time of year

There are many opinions within the church surrounding Christmas and what we should and shouldn’t do. Some believers think we should change the date because it is unlikely that His birth was in December. Others feel we shouldn’t have one day set aside to celebrate it. Whilst still others abhor anything related to the old pagan celebration of Yuletide. The Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate on different days to the Western churches.

Even Glenn and I have different preferences surrounding celebratory days such as Easter and Christmas. Glenn counts all days the same, where I love keeping special baking treats, music and decorations for certain times of the year. For me, it is a time of reflecting on certain aspects of the Gospel message; keeping these days as special pushes me into a special season with God. Glenn, on the other hand, does not speak to God in the same way and so the days are not made special for his faith.

So what is right, what is wrong, and does it matter?

This morning I reflected on our differences as I put on Christmas music and painted play-dough decorations with my toddler. During this time, I was reminded of Romans 14.

Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. (Romans 14:4-6).

That makes it fairly clear, doesn’t it? We get to make the decision for ourselves and we aren’t to judge our fellow believers. The important thing, according to Paul, is that we seek to honour God. Please note that I am not talking about people celebrating in ways that contradict Scripture (drunkenness, orgies, pagan worship . . .)! I am talking about how we honour God, from believer to believer, can vary. For example, some of us find special days call us to reflection and remembrance, where others do not.

I highly recommend you read through the whole passage of Romans 14 this week and keep it in mind when you come across someone celebrating (or not celebrating) Christmas as you do. By all means, discuss your varying views with others, but only so far as it does not cause another believer to stumble. Let us walk in love, peace and mutual upbuilding. 

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother (Romans 14:13).

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding (Romans 14:19).

Christmas crafts

Scripture memory/ meditation

​Developing discipline, developing character

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 good success. (Joshua 1:8).

And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:3).

I had myself convinced that I’m unable to memorise Scripture. I told myself I’m not naturally gifted at memorisation, and that’s okay. I made excuses such as: “I know x,y,z in the Bible, so why must I know exactly where it is?” But God has challenged me on this. The Bible tells us that we should let the word dwell richly in our hearts, and that this makes our path sure. 

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)

The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip. (Psalm 37:30-31).

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3).

What’s in your heart?

Meditating on the Word and tucking it away in our heart is what brings change in our lives. We should see growth in our character through time, and the Word and Spirit are the two that bring this about. When we memorise Scripture, the Spirit is then able to bring the right Scripture to mind to guide us in any given situation.

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. (Hebrews 4:12)

Beth. How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:9-11).

“And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:18-20).

Is the Word tucked up in your heart?

In Jesus’ time, Jewish boys were expected to have memorised the Pentateuch (Genesis-Deuteronomy), knowing it by heart by the age of 12! Jesus expected people to know the Law and be able to draw conclusions from it – memorising the Word, but also meditating on its meaning.

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” (Luke 10:25-28).

The Law also expected the people to memorise God’s commands, write them on their houses, and physically tie copies to their heads and hands to remind them of it. They were to teach the Law to their children, talking and thinking of it all day long.

“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth. (Deuteronomy 11:18-21).

Today’s education system is set up to have us forget – we cram all the information in for a term, are tested, and then forget it the very next term as we move on to new information. There is no building, there is no expectation to remember. How different from what the Scriptures above reveal about treasuring wisdom and knowledge, and what knowledge is more important than what God has revealed to us in His very Word!

We need to walk in obedience to God in all seasons of life, and God’s Spirit will guide us. In this season, God has challenged me to focus on Scripture memory and it is blessing me abundantly. It changes playing toddler games all day (which could feel rather mundane, rather quickly) into hours of worship. It invites God into my relationship with my son, and has me speaking truth over my boy. What a blessing for both of us!

Help for Scripture memory

I pray that God guides me into making Scripture memory a life long joy and devotion. I pray that I will pass this treasure on to my children and that they, too, will store the Word up in their hearts and minds. I pray for a change in our thinking as a church, and a change in what we value. Scripture memory takes time and focused attention, it means that we will have to sacrifice other activities and time wasters (Facebook, cough cough), in order to devote time to it – but what rich fruit it will produce! God, make memorising your Word a priority in our lives, and help us to simplify other areas in order to devote time to learning of you in your Word. Guide our memorisation with your Spirit.

In ending, I want to make it clear that we are not under the Law; we live out these spiritual disciplines from a place of sonship, as children who want to spend time with our loving Father. For me, Scripture memory (and meditation on it) is the area God has me focusing on and it is turning daily living into abundant life as it transforms my heart and brings me into His presence. If God is highlighting it to you also, then I suggest starting small – try memorising one verse you love each week.

Soaking up the Word

Bible study

​Developing discipline, developing character

Glenn and I often joke about how God chose us to be in ministry because everyone will know it is God, not us, doing the work. Why? Because Glenn and I are both inherently lazy people. Don’t get me wrong, we can both be work horses, but you have to appropriately motivate us. In actual fact, it usually takes God to motivate us to get off our backsides!

Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. (Zechariah 4:6) – Yep, definitely is by His Spirit!

I am completely content spending my days reading novels or working on whatever latest project strikes my fancy. Glenn is equally happy to play computer games all day, with a little travel interspersed in between. Whilst this all might be fine in relaxation time, it is not a great choice for daily life. Laziness is not life giving and it certainly doesn’t bring a sense of purpose. Yet, even experiencing a feeling of purposelessness, it still feels easier to live for the flesh than to train (discipline) ourselves in the things of the Lord.

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? (Ecc 1:2-3) . . . Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; (Ecc 12:1)  . . . The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

Why am I sharing this wonderful (hehem) insight into our character? Despite joking about God’s choice with Glenn, I have often had people make my life choices seem to be more to do with my person than with God at work in me. And so I bring this up in a blog about Bible study because this discipline is one I’m sure most people assume I find really easy to live out – because I am fiercely passionate about the Word of God and making it known. I want you to know that it is a choice I must make to strive after God, and I have to let Him put strategies into my life that push me into Bible study.

Gods living Word

Even though I love the Bible, it takes effort to study it. It takes energy to dig beyond the initial surface level of a passage. It takes time to study inductively (exploring what the Word says), rather than deductively (reading the Word with preconceived notions and established beliefs). Yet if we are really hungry for truth, and if we desire God’s heart rather than religion, then we will make the time to study inductively. 

Gimel. Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word. Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. (Psalm 119:17-18)

Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. (Psalm 119:165)

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

Digging into the Word means coming to a greater revelation of Christ, Jesus, who is the living Word! What a great gift we have; and yet, what a gift that is set aside, unwrapped, by far too many of God’s people!

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

For me, making the time is the key. Life tries to put many demands on our time. We need to make sure that Bible study is included in our daily life. I’ve learnt that I need to be pushed into study. I am always thankful when I am, but my innate laziness stops me from studying from sheer desire. To turn my desire and ideals into practice I need to have some goal in mind, or an obligation to keep. I love teaching for this reason – I can’t teach what I don’t know and thus I am “forced” back into study.

Teaching in Zambia

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. (1 Timothy 4:13)

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

This is not to say that reading through and meditating on Scripture isn’t important, too – it just serves a different purpose in the life of God’s people. We need to do all three – read, meditate on and study the Word of God. [I’ll look at Scripture mediation and memorisation in upcoming blogs).

And, most importantly of all, we must allow the truths of Scripture to dwell in our hearts richly, transforming us into His likeness and producing fruits of righteousness. Studying the Word must lead to APPLICATION, or it is useless. Understanding without application is dead knowledge.

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2)

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. (Proverbs 9:9-10)

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:22-25)

Flowers fall, but the Word remains

We also see that Scripture knowledge is needed for evangelism, and that believers are also to teach each other from their knowledge. There seems to be an unwillingness today to debate the Word – not argue, but wrestle through passages together to come to greater understanding of the truth and its application. We need to start studying the Word for ourselves; we need to know it ourselves. There is such Bible poverty within the church today that pastors preach falsehoods from the pulpit and their congregations are none the wiser. Would you know if your pastor taught something scripturally unsound? Would you be prepared to bring it up to him (in love)?

Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus. (Acts 18:24-28)

So how will you study the Word? Will you faithfully work through a Bible study book? Will you join a Bible study group? Will you agree to lead a home group, or commit to running a Bible study, thus forcing yourself into Bible study? Will you sign up for a Bible study course through a distant learning theology school? The Word is the truth we are to live by; we must know it to walk in the truth!

Open the Word; Dig into life

If you want a free PDF copy of my Bible study resource, The Inductive Bible Study Companion; Unlock the Word, please just send me an email! Let’s end Bible poverty!