Matthew 4:4 (NIV 1984) "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."
The term "Bible study" is not uncommon. In fact, we use it regularly in conversation.
"I'm going to 'Ladies Bible study' tomorrow." "We have small group 'Bible study' tonight." Or, "What 'Bible study' are you going through right now?" "Have you done your 'Bible study' today?"
Over the years I've had numerous conversations with women in different stages of life with varying depths of maturity.
One lady shared with me she didn't like the idea of "Bible Study" because it sounded like homework. Without passing judgment I really tried to understand her perspective because initially, I was shocked.
However, this conversation caused me to dig deeper into my own life. How do I view Bible study? I know there are times when I am guilty of equating Bible study with merely homework. Or, I reduce my study time as another item to check off my list, or a chore needing to just get done.
The more I ponder these thoughts, the more the motives of my own heart are revealed. The intentions of each of our hearts are weighed on a scale. One side of the scale is duty, the other side of the scale is desire.
When we view study time in the Word as a "duty" it will feel like homework when we open up God's Word. Then our time does become a chore; one more item to mark off; one more to-do that is delayed until tomorrow. We reduce our time in the Word to vacuuming, dusting, or cleaning out the refrigerator.
When our time in the Word is the desire of our soul it births an intimacy coming from a pure heart. As we grow in our relationship with God so should our love for Him. Wanting to spend time in His Word and time with Him reflects a heart that is in love. Communing with God in a present state of His awareness deepens the relationship.
Matthew 4:4 tells us, "Man does not live on bread alone but by the Word of God." Physical hunger takes place in our stomachs, but spiritual hunger takes place in our souls where earthly things cannot satisfy. The foods we eat each day provide nourishment to our physical bodies.
The Word of God provides spiritual nourishment for our souls. We cannot survive without this sustenance. Recognizing this need in our daily lives is critical to our spiritual growth because only the Word of God can spiritually satisfy. This is our source of true refreshment and replenishment. Striving to love and know God through His Word provides an anchor to our soul not found elsewhere.
Time in His Word helps us grow spiritually. But time alone is not the anecdote. Anyone can read the Bible for 10, 15, 20 minutes a day, get up, go about their life and lack a spiritual connection to God. And the opposite is true. We could read three or four verses, soak them into the fiber of our being throughout the day and experience closeness to God.
God and His Word coupled with a pure heart propels spiritual growth. When our heart is longing, yearning, and hungry for God we will engage our soul with our Savior beyond "the clock." The receptiveness of our heart and how absorbed our spirit is to our Lord often reflects the depth of our desire for Him.
Often times we want a quick fix in life. Guess what? Spiritual maturity isn't manufactured. Drink this potion and within 24 hours all of life's troubles will be cured. You will always respect your husband, never get angry with your kids and be free of insecurities and struggles! Sometimes we may wish it was this easy.
This kind of microwave mentality perpetuates calculated devotions and a ritualistic relationship. Read your Bible everyday for 10 minutes, pray for 5, go to church on Sunday and serve in the nursery. In the big picture, yes, growth takes time. But when we become clock hounds we miss the point in spending time in the Word. The spiritual watch God uses is much different than the worldly one we use to somehow measure our spiritual life.
Only God can change our heart and our motives. Reading and studying His Word because we "should" is a Pharisee alert. When we relegate our relationship with God to a list our heart grows cold to intimacy. We follow an agenda rather than following our Lord.
Awhile back I was writing a message and the Lord laid on my heart this truth: "Bible study" is not homework, "Bible study" is "heart-work!!"
- The kind of "heart-work" I need to keep my pride and short temper on a tight leash.
- The "heart-work" I need to subdue my flesh.
- The "heart-work" I need to love and respect my husband.
- The "heart-work" I need to be patient and positive with my children.
- I need this "heart-work" everyday!!! (And lots of it!).
Viewing my time in the Word as "heart work" gives me a renewed perspective towards God's Word. The condition of our heart is the foundation to the stability of our relationship with God. As my friend Lisa would say, "May each of us desire our time in the Word as an opportunity to unzip our heart before God so He can do His work in us."
The more I pursue and fall in love with God the more He changes my heart. The more I want more of Him, the more he releases me from my Pharisee tendencies of dutiful devotions and routine rituals.
Ladies, Bible study in not homework, Bible study is heart-work!!
Ask the Lord to change your heart when you are tempted to view your time in His Word as a chore or a duty. Pray for Him to reveal the 'heart work' He needs to complete in you.
Ask God to deepen your desire for more of Him. Memorize Psalm 42:1-2 listed below.
Is the Word of God your daily bread, or is it cake for special occasions?
What marks the difference between "home work" and "heart work" for you? How can you improve your attitude towards your time in the Word?
What are your motives for studying God's Word? Is it to check off your list? Is it to grow in your relationship and understanding of God?
Heart Transforming Word:
Psalm 42:1-2a (NIV) "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God."
Psalm 119:11 "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."
Psalm 119:105 "Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."
Colossians 3:16 "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom."
Deuteronomy 11:18 "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds."
Psalm 119:103 "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!"
Psalm 119:130, 131, 133 "The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands. Direct my footsteps according to your word."
Copyright 2010 by Hester Christensen. Edited 2012. All rights reserved.