So in part one of this series, we talked about how we put God off, or on the back burner when it comes to actually reading our Bible and renewing our minds daily. The quote that most often sticks in my head was when I was talking to a friend and she said, “Well, God knows I have to _____, and He understands that life is busy.” You can fill in that blank for yourself. Yes, He knows, but He still expects us to renew our minds daily and pray daily. The verse that comes to mind says that God will redeem the time. Funny how I can’t actually find that phrase. But in chapter 42 of Job, God restores Job’s fortunes and Job is given more time. In verses 16 and 17 it says, “ After this, Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons and his grandsons, four generations. 17 And Job died, an old man and full of days.”
So why did I try so hard to make that point? Because of the fact, and I’ve seen this countless times in my life personally, I’ve stopped everything, to do what God has told me to do. Even on my busiest of days, I still make everything else on time. He redeems our time if we will simply be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
Now on to part two:
I teased you with the telephone game way of studying. How it really got to me was the way it started. You love this awesome Bible teacher and want to read anything and everything they write. At least that’s how it works with me. So you buy all their books – es, ALL their books. But what we, on the outside of the publishing world, don’t know is that their book may be the telephone game live and in print. And a lot of times we read books about the Bible rather than picking up the Bible itself. I’m guilty at times and I’m sure you are, too.
But those authors are most likely building on things that they have read from other authors and so on. Pretty soon, the message gets a distorted and can even end up saying the opposite of what a certain passage or book of the Bible is trying to relay. Or leaving out things because they are taken out of context. Deception can easily creep in. It works this way for topical studies, too. If we invest our time in reading the scriptures, we will be able to know the truth and rightly divide it when reading the book. Don’t just take another human’s word, take God’s!
Jen Wilkin has great names for all of the ways we misguidedly try to cut corners when renewing our minds. Another one she writes about is the Magic 8 Ball Approach. we go to the Bible with a particular current event in our lives. And we start looking for answers to our particular situation. Should I move to another state? Should I marry Bill? Is it time to change jobs? You can see how things can get really messed up really fast. The issue with this is, “The Bible is not magical and it does not serve our whims, nor is it’s primary function to answer our questions.” (Jen Wilkin) It’s good to recognize that the Bible is more concerned with the decision maker than the decision. It desires to change our hearts so our desires align with God’s will.
I’ve always wanted to be a personal shopper. I’ve always been good at dressing other people. But the Personal Shopper Approach to Bible study just can’t measure up. I want to know more about a certain topic, such as who i am in Christ Jesus. But I’m not sure where to find anything about that in my Bible. SO I get a personal shopper – A Bible study from Big Bible Teacher X. BBTX has sought out scriptures on this topic from all over the Bible and done all the work for me. She even writes it out, and asks me questions, and then tells it back to me at the end.
“What seems to be the problem with that?”, you ask. well, you can never take ownership of what the Bible says if you aren’t the one doing the digging. How can you personally relate to being the “righteousness of Christ” if God didn’t reveal that to your heart specifically? Sure it becomes head knowledge, but we also want that heart knowledge deep down inside of us. And to take it further, it’s really a stretch to call a book on self image a Bible study.
In her book, Women of the Word, Jen gives quit a few more of these cute little titles to ways of studying that just don’t measure up. The Xanax Approach and the Jack Sprat Approach are just another couple that come to mind. It’s really worth the read.
But here’s the thing. How can we accurately divide the word and share it with others if we ourselves have not dug in to it’s treasures for ourselves? The answer, of course, is we can’t.
And of course you know that God has been leading me through this particular series. In fact, just yesterday in John Bevere’s book Part three came to mind. Interesting to see where God is going with this.
So, as with the last post, I challenge you to start by digging in and using that SOAP method for just five minutes today. After all, we have to start somewhere. we’re in this thing together. And don’t forget, God will redeem your time.