Category Archives: Bible Study

More and More

It seems to be a first-world, 21st-century dilemma that we get whiplash from all the possibilities we have to do good around us. Sometimes we simply don’t know what to do with all of our options.

Should I devote myself to overseas missions? Pro-life causes?  The orphan and the widow? The homeless?

We seek out God’s guidance in our own lives, and that is good. But sometimes our murky understanding of “God’s will” leads us to expect unforgettable “Eureka!” moments of unearthing it. We look for black-and-white, unmistakable signs of what should be our life’s passion and greatest work.

We wonder what God has for us next, or would have us do now, or what He has waiting for us. Our questioning and seeking begs the question—is it something different? Is it something we don’t yet have?

Keep Going on the Road You’re On

During a time of great pressure and crises for the early church, Paul wrote to the Thessalonian believers. He was suffering. Others were suffering. Paul feared all the suffering would discourage the Thessalonians from their faith, but was overjoyed when Timothy reported the opposite (1 Thess. 3:1-5). In that situation, in that time, how did Paul counsel the Thessalonians to live and act and pursue their purpose?

He didn’t ask them to start any new initiatives or reforms. Didn’t suggest starting their day with a to-do list, or dreaming big to decide how to spend their time.

Paul asked them to remember.

“Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more” (1 Thess. 4:1).

More and more.

We taught you to love each other, Paul reminded the church. Remember how we talked about living in faith? Keep doing that. Just do it more.

Paul prayed for the church in Thessalonica, but not that they would discern, discover, or otherwise find out the will of God for them. He didn’t pray that they would move on to the next step or start the next phase.

He prayed that they would continue on the road they had chosen. That what they had begun to understand they would live out more often. That what they had started doing they would do more often. That the way of life they were called to would define them “more and more.”

Not Always Different

It’s as if Paul thought they already had what they needed. They didn’t need something new.

More often than not, my days are driven by my own American sense of aiming for the stars and getting something done. Something bigger than daily, seemingly-small obedience.

Really, what can we do? We keep looking around us for ideas, seeking a way we can be a part of what God is doing.

As if we don’t think it counts to just be His. As if we think we have to earn our place. As if we think He can’t lead us without our help.

But He loves as His children, He earned it for us, and if He has led us this far we can trust Him to get us home.

Now that we are here, at His table, all we have to do is follow Him. Every day.

Maybe seeking God’s will for my life is often less about doing something different and more about doing something more. If you and I are living in love, walking in righteousness, and seeking Him daily, then we are already doing what He wants. We just need to do more of it.

We may have big dreams, and we could go on a grand adventure. There will likely be crazy twists and turns in the road ahead of us. But the heart of His will for us is to keep on keeping on in what we’ve already begun to learn, to increase, to keep growing. And to do so more and more.

“Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you” (1 Thess. 3:11-12).

You Give Them Something to Eat

“Don’t worry about money,” He told them. “Don’t take anything with you. Just stay with whoever will welcome you and tell everyone they need to repent.”

That’s my paraphrase, of course, but that’s essentially what Mark 6 says. The twelve disciples went out two by two and preached repentance to all who would listen. They healed the sick. Cast out demons. They were very busy, and perhaps surprising even themselves, quite effective.

When they returned, Mark says they told Jesus “all that they had done and taught” (6:30). Probably talked nonstop, between the twelve of them. After hearing their reports, Jesus invited them to come to a quiet place and rest – they had to be so tired. So deeply craving rest and peace. They followed Him, ready for a time of quiet.

But the crowds followed Him, too.

Jesus saw them coming, and met them where they were. Patiently He spoke to them again, explaining the ways of God for hours.

All while His tired disciples waited in the Middle Eastern sun.

We Get Tired, Too

No matter how we fill our days, we usually fill them. Between a job or school, kids or parents or roommates, church responsibilities, volunteer work, and whatever else we last agreed to, we often have more good things on our to-do lists than we know how to handle. Our time is usually spoken for and rest is hard to find.

And oh, how we need it.

Continue reading You Give Them Something to Eat

4 Steps to Reading Your Bible More

bible2With the onset of adulthood I have found I appreciate sleep more and more. It is harder to get out of bed than it was when I knew my early rising meant more time with Legos or Adventures in Odyssey before beginning the day. Under this new sleepiness my daily Bible study has been suffering.

Every night I intend to get up early the next morning, and I set an alarm to match. But invariably, when morning does come, I think about my day’s responsibilities or how I’ve been feeling under the weather lately, and I can always think of a rational reason to stay in bed as long as possible.

But I’ve also noticed that when I don’t read my Bible in the mornings, it doesn’t happen the rest of the day, either. And the lessening of depth and conviction that breeds in my own life isn’t something I want to continue.

The Bible is a gift. The God of the universe shared with us His thoughts and ways through a Book—have we lost that wonder?

“For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).

These are the words of God. They are given to us, but we aren’t passive in this. We must take hold of His worlds and mold our lives around them.

“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).

A Few Simple Suggestions

So in those hazy mornings when excuses seem louder than my responsibility, I am learning to just do it. And as I continue to rebuild a daily Bible study habit, here are some things that have helped me along the way. You might choose to read at another time of day, or have your own tactics to stay consistent. These are only my ideas for right now in my own life, so whether they are also helpful for you or not, please take them as simply such.

 

  1. Plan for success. Get your things—any notebook, highlighter, or coffee cup you may be looking for while you’re still half-asleep. Know where in the Bible you will be reading in tomorrow. Go to bed on time—or earlier, especially while still cementing the habit. Having a plan will not guarantee you will carry it out, but not having a plan pretty much ensures you won’t.

 

  1. Pray for strength over sleepiness. A wise older woman (and a giant in the area of Bible study and memorization, no less) once told me to get one leg out of bed and God will get the other one. Some days it’s the other way around. But without the sustaining hand of God we would not even be breathing right now, so why not ask for His assistance in rising early to spend time with Him? He wants to help us. He will.

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  1. Hold yourself to it. As teenagers, some friends of mine started an e-mail group they called The 6:00 Club, and every day they told each other what time they got up that morning. Find that measure of accountability that works for you, and pursue it. Tell a friend, write it down, join a Facebook community. Or tell the Internet about it.

 

  1. Remember grace. Jesus died to make us forever perfect in His Father’s eyes, not to give us the ability to act perfect this side of forever. You will miss a day, just like I have missed so many days. Don’t give up and don’t guilt yourself. Just keep going tomorrow.

“I’m tired.” If we’re looking for an excuse, that’ll work as well as any. But it’s just an excuse—an attempt to justify ignoring our responsibility to know the words of our Father. A reason, on the other hand, is a firm and constant truth which stands whether we want it to or not. The God of the Universe wrote a Book and gave it to us. We can find an excuse for every day if the week, but can we seriously think of a solid reason to not study the Word of God on a consistent basis?