Wow! It is hard to believe that January is already half over! The “new” is quickly wearing off, and we are settling into the routines that will guide us throughout the rest of 2011. Over the last few weeks, we have been talking about making resolutions that matter. Resolutions that will guide us in those routines so that at the end of the tunnel, when we are getting ready to celebrate New Year’s Eve 2012, we will be stronger Christians, and will in turn have been able to strengthen our families, our congregations, and the family of Almighty God!
Since we have already discussed raising the spiritual expectations we have for ourselves and improving our prayer life, the next natural resolution we need to make is to improve our Bible study habits. To begin with, you can’t improve something unless you first understand that it needs to be improved. This week we will look at the reasons why we should be concerned with improving our Bible study, and next week we will look at five practical ways of improving our Bible study.
Scripture plainly teaches that God’s Word is the lamp unto our feet, and the light unto our path (Psalm 119:105). It is understood that the amount of light a lamp gives off is determined by the amount and quality of oil that is in it. To follow God’s illustration through, the Bible is our lamp, and our personal study is the amount and quality of our oil.
Take a moment to think about what that tells you about your own personal Bible study. If you had a physical lamp, and the amount of oil in that lamp directly reflected how much time you spend studying your Bible, how full would it be? Would it be empty, full, or somewhere in-between? Would the amount of oil in your lamp depend on what was on TV that night, or how many sport practices your kids had? Would it remain steadfast and regular regardless of what else was going on in your life on any given day? The answer to these questions will be your “plum line” with this resolution– your base mark. Think of it as weighing in before you start a diet. This way, at the end of the year, you can ask yourself these same questions again, and see for yourself what improvement you have made!
After evaluating how much oil would be in our lamps, let us ask ourselves what kind of oil our lamp would have. There has been a lot of hoopla in the news over the last few years about gasoline with ethanol in it, & the problems it is causing people and how ethanol is a cheap imitation of gasoline that causes more problems than it solves. Well I am here to say, bad Bible study is the same way! 2 Timothy 2:15 reads, “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.” If we are commanded to rightly handle the word of truth, this would automatically imply that there is a way to “wrongly” handle the word of truth.
So often in the religious world as a whole people do one of two things: either they take someone else’s word for what Scripture says, without ever truly studying it for themselves, or they do study it for themselves, but they “proof text.” Proof texting is not a good thing. It is basically taking a Scripture from here and a Scripture from there to make the Bible prove the view you already hold, rather than simply taking the Bible for what it says and putting away your pre-conceived ideas.
Sisters, let it not be so amongst us! Over this next year, let us resolve to dig deeper, more diligently into the Scriptures than we ever have before. Let us open our hearts and our minds to the Heavenly Father and study His word in a way that it will go straight from our minds into our hearts and be shown in our actions! May we strive daily to truly pray without ceasing, and may we expect more out of ourselves tomorrow than we do today.