My favorite section of the grocery store is the bakery section because I know I can enjoy the wonderful smell of baking bread there. You can almost smell it too, can’t you?
When you approach your Bible study, anticipate that God has some freshly baked bread waiting to sustain you because God’s Word is fresh every time. If you aren’t experiencing this in your Bible study, then try a new approach.
1) Pray before your open the Word.
Pray for an open heart and mind. Pray for the Spirit’s leading. Pray for cleansing. Invite God into your space. As a visual prompt that a meal is about to take place, I like to light a candle to remind myself that the Holy Spirit is present.
2) Take a small helping of the Word and chew it slowly.
I know a lot of people read the Bible in a year, and it seems that there are hundreds of different plans available for helping you do this. But–this is my personal opinion–reading the Bible in a year feels like trying to drink water from a fire hose. Quantity does not take the place of quality in Bible study. If a Bible in a year plan is working for you, great! If not, slow down.
So, break off a small piece of the Bread and take your time. When you “gobble” your food, you can’t appreciate its taste. And, the taste God’s Word leaves in your mouth may provide you with clues about the message the Spirit wants you to “get.”
Is the Bread bitter? This usually signals a faith struggle. Be assured that if you endure, the taste will change. Perhaps you are trying to reconcile your life experiences with the promises you read in the Bible. Perhaps there’s some sin in your life that directly affects the flavor of God’s Word. This is a time when many close the Word and walk away.
Persevere. Pray. Find a confidante. Realize that the Spirit is at work, bringing something vital to your attention. Choose someone who will pray with you. Talk over the passage that gives you indigestion with a trusted person of faith. His or her insights may be the seasoning you need to appreciate the Bread and give you the courage to make a change.
Is the Bread sweet? Sing praise. Share the joy of the experience all day long. Praise God. Thank God. You’ve had a wonderful experience and sharing it with others may lead to life changing moments for you and for them.
Is the Bread savory? Read it again and again. Savor it. Let it sink in. Memorize it. Say it. Give it away. I like cake because it’s sweet, but I love savory food the best. Why else do we choose savory foods as the main dish at most meals? Again, sharing your experience will help you digest the Word and get all the nourishment out of it.
3) Paraphrase and Personalize the Word.
“ By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”
Now, personalize it: “By this I know love, that Jesus laid down his life for me, Kathrese, and I ought to lay down my life for my brothers and sisters.” Do you see? God’s Word is speaking to you; you should take it personally.
This is the best way to pass the Word on to your family and friends. Let your words be full of salt, seasoning the world around you with God’s Word, making it palatable and personal. See Her Story, His Story for an example of this in action.
4) Live the Word.
God’s Word is living and active, and Love is a verb. Head knowledge is useless without heart knowledge. Go. Do. Practice what you’ve learned. Find a way to apply your lesson as soon as you can. The same day, if possible.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” James 1:22-25
5) Eat every day.
God’s Word is for daily sustenance. Like the manna in the desert, it’s meant to be eaten daily. You can try to eat for a week all in one sitting, but you’ll only starve between meals. And, if you don’t eat at all, you’ll turn into a spiritual skeleton. Be honest with yourself. How do you look in a spiritual mirror. Are you suffering from an eating disorder?
God’s Word is fresh every time. So, as the Italian mama says at every meal, “Eat!”
What kind of Bible study works best for you? Please share your experiences below.
- Knowing the Scriptures (wordspiritjourneys.wordpress.com)
- Sunday Sermon: Eating God’s Word by Pronouncing It! (jimkane.wordpress.com)