Thursday, February 6, 2014

Online Bible Study with fellow Blogging Ladies: Week 1

A Modern Girl's Guide to Bible Study by Jen Hatmaker

We're a little over a week into the book study so far, and I've got to say I really am enjoying this book and the group discussion. The group is made up of over 30 ladies, most of them bloggers, and fellow Christians. There's a wide range of faiths, some new Christians, and some that have been Christians since they were kids. These ladies are from all over the country. Despite not knowing these women in "real" life and each one coming from different backgrounds, we all have one thing in common. Jesus Christ.

Even though we are through week 1 of the study, I am actually a little bit behind. One of my biggest struggles is staying committed to things that don't have a specific deadline, but I'm trying really hard! I hope to be caught up in the next day or two.

Now that that's out of the way, the book starts out discussing the insecurities that come with studying the Bible and if fear plays a role in why one feels the way they do about studying it. The author quotes a verse in Psalm that really spoke to me.

Psalm 119:130
"The unfolding of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple."

I am simple. I am a simple human being with a simple mind. I am not a preacher, I am not a teacher, I am not a Bible scholar student. I have no Biblical education except what I have heard at church. And honestly, I've not retained a whole lot of that. But this verse gives me hope that even I will be able to understand and learn and retain the word of God. I just have to unfold His truths and that starts by learning how to really study the Bible and asking for His help while doing so.

Fears. I definitely think fear plays a part in my life. Fear of not knowing enough about the Bible before diving into it to fully understand what I'm reading. Fear of reading it and not taking anything away from it. Fear of committing myself to reading and learning and failing at fulfilling that commitment. And lastly...fear of being changed. Fear of reading something that I've needed to read for a long time that steps on my toes with great force. Fear that the Holy Spirit reaches out to me and makes me realize that there are lots of things in my life that need to be changed.

The next chapter talks about strategies for studying the Bible and actually connecting with it's words that just plain and simple don't work. Some of us may try really hard to study the Bible, but still come away without having gained anything. The first strategy the author discusses is the "randomly-open-the-Bible-to-whatever-page-and-see-if-there-is-something-inspiring-there method". I know I've used that method before, and it never really got me anywhere. She then writes that God is not a random being, in fact He is extremely precise and orderly and that He wants us to be mirrors of his image. Therefore, we need to have some sense of order to our studying; we need to be intentional and deliberate, she says. One thing she wrote that really hit home to me is that we put everything we have into other activities (hobbies, family activities, etc) yet struggle to put everything we have into studying God's word. I am so guilty of that.

Another thing the author discusses that I am guilty of is reading the Bible passively. Reading through it quickly without questioning the things I don't understand or without doing a little more digging to try to understand, or even communicating with God while reading. "As God leads us, we are to be actively engaged in understanding His truth." Add that to the list of things I need to work on. The author sums this all up to say that these methods that don't work just cause us to be inconsistent in our studying. She really does hit the nail on the head with everything she says.

Lastly, the third chapter, and my favorite so far, discusses how we need to understand that we can have our own insights into his Word and that we don't need to just depend on what another believer tells us. Not everybody has the same exact interpretations of scripture so something may mean one thing to somebody else but something different to you. I really like Jen's question "If He didn't reserve salvation for the privileged, why would He reserve knowledge?". I really love that I can gain my own knowledge from his Word and am learning how to do so from this book study. At the same time though she reminds us that we don't need to dive in head first without His help because there's a chance we can make up our own interpretations that are not true. I feel like diving into the Word without His help makes room for the devil to creep in and deceive us.

I will close this post with this quote from Jen: "He wants more for our lives than we could ever wish for." This is so so true. We can't even fathom the degree to which God wants the best for I think I am finally finding the desire to want the best for myself and my relationship with God, thanks to this book.

The Bible my husband gave me as part of my wedding gift.
Photo courtesy of A Digital Reflection

'Til next time,

Happy Is A Choice