Biblical Literacy

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

“So, about ‘quiet times’ can I just read a book about the Bible? Or, just like read a chapter of the Bible and pray?”

These are the literally questions I sent a friend via AOL messenger one night shortly after I had gotten to bible college. I wondered what people really meant when they talked about having a ‘quiet time’ or ‘reading their Bible’. Kind of bizarre questions to be asking while you are enrolled in a BIBLE COLLEGE! Am I right? I just didn’t know. I read my Bible some before coming to school, but I heard a lot more chatter about ‘quiet times’ and I just didn’t know what that looked like.

Did it have to be every day? Did you have to do it for a certain amount of time? These weren’t new questions I just never really thought to ask someone before coming to this community of bible college students.

I must assume that some of you, like me, wonder these same questions. Is it embarrassing to admit we don’t know the answers? It is, but I wish that it wasn’t. So, this is for you, Sister or Brother, who secretly wonders what a ‘quiet time’ with the Lord looks like…

It looks like a whatever you want it to, but the caveat is that it leads you to more fully ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’ (Matthew 22:37). Books about God, faith and the Christian life are very encouraging and insightful, but they are not the inspired Word of God! We need to get into the Word and begin to KNOW HIM!

“The heart cannot love what the mind does not know. Yes, it is sinful to acquire knowledge for knowledge’s sake, but acquiring knowledge about the One we love, for the sake of loving him more deeply, will always be for our transformation. We love God with our minds, allowing our intellect to inform our emotions, rather than the other way around.”

Jen Wilkin + Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds
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I have by NO means arrived in this area but I do know it’s important. I didn’t value the Word of God in college. I wanted to but I just hadn’t dived in with my mind yet. I think about how much more I love and appreciate my husband now that we have been married for almost 13 years. I love him with my mind and not only my emotions, if it was the other way around we likely wouldn’t be together any more. We have both hurt and disappointed the other and if we were ruled by our emotions we wouldn’t have any reason to continue being hurt. BUT, because we love each other with our minds I know He is the one that was given to me as a gift from God to grow and sanctify me.

The same goes for God. We skip out when we get hurt if our love is only emotional. We also fall into patterns of complacency and apathy. Getting into God’s Word is for us to KNOW God. It is not a place to go to slap a ‘spiritual bandaid’ on our current problems, point out someone else’s sin, or gain badges of knowledge to hold over other people in pride. I cannot stress it enough – being in God’s Word is a place to know HIM and study His character!

+ Here are three mistakes I made in studying the Bible +

1+ Jumping to Application: When we start reading it’s super easy to quickly read a chapter or two and look for the direct application for ourselves. Proper application is the last step in a three step process:

-Observation – This is the first step and according to Living by the Book by Howard Hendricks this is where we ask, “What do we see?” We do this as we first come to the text and no detail is too small. We might highlight repeated words or underline contrasting statements.

– Interpretation – this is the second step where we ask, “What does it mean?” How many of us are guilty of going here first when we crack open our Bibles? Likely, many of us fall into trying to understand what the text means before observing what we see.

– Application – Lastly, we come to application. This is also another place where we like to jump to before truly studying the text for context and broader understanding. Here we can discover “How does it work?” We can discover how what we read affects and transforms us today!

2+ Riding the High – Ugh, this right here is where I fall short a LOT of the time. I fall into the trap of having an amazing time reading and studying the Bible, but then let busyness keep me from coming back to soak in more of God’s Word. I justify it by saying, “it’s okay, I will just think about what I studied last time,” I ride the high for so long I forget that I am coasting again. I don’t want to be comfortable in this pattern. I want to be habitual and disciplined but I struggle. I am kind of a butterfly in all things – I skip from project to project, book to book and forget I didn’t finish what I started. This carries over to my time with the Lord and I need to make conscience efforts to be disciplined. Being consistent is a big part of knowing more about God and in turn loving Him more. What we make a diligent study of, we fall more in love with.

3+ To-Do List – And my third struggle has been what I think you might have noticed at the beginning… just doing this whole ‘quiet time’ for the sake of doing! Just like anything we must discover what makes our soul sing when we study the Word of God. We are all unique and our Creator loves to see us approach Him in ways that makes us delight in who He is. I encourage you to start the discussion, ask friends or family how and when they like to study the Word. Maybe it’s at night or early in the morning. Maybe it’s in bed, a special chair, or at the kitchen table. There is nowhere in Scripture that says we have to spend time with God in one specific way but it does say the we need to love and delight in the Word. Sometimes we must start reading and study God’s word out of obedience and the more we desire to delight in it, we will! It is a chore if our heart isn’t in the right place. We need to pray and ask for God to transform our hearts and give us a love for His Word. The more time we spend with God to know Him, the more we love and desire it. We had a friend in our home state of Colorado that would say, “Whatever you are doing with the Lord, add 15 minutes.” So, if you are caught in a pattern of not studying the Word or spending time in ‘His courts’ – I challenge you to spend 15 minutes this week doing that. Next week, spend 15 minutes twice a week studying Scripture. Start small and with a book like James that is rich in both observation of who God is and personal application.

Psalm 1:2
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Don’t let anything stand in the way of knowing God and becoming a student of His Word! I hope we can move forward together toward a place of being comfortable studying each book of the Bible. Comment below with what keep you from spending habitual time studying God’s Word!

+ Enjoy a free memory verse postcard that goes with this post –Hop Over Here ++

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