Lately, I've been feeling God's conviction...such a dreaded word...about my Bible studies. You may ask, what exactly would God convict me about when it comes to Bible studies? Yes, I was doing studies of the Bible, but even that can be done in a way that does not glorify God's will. It started out as just as a way to meet other women, for some time for the kids to play with other kids, for me to have some adult conversation. Then it turned into an easy way for me to have my daily quiet time. With daily lessons it was easy to get into the habit of my daily quiet time, it gave me something to look forward to, and it held me accountable since I had other people to talk to about it. It was great, but I started hearing God tell me, "You're not there yet." So I made sure I dug even deeper to the studies, making sure I read every Scripture that was listed with the text, made sure I did the study every day, and I was getting so much out of it. Yet again, "You're not there yet." So I began to pray why am I not there yet? What am I doing wrong? What do I need to do to get there?
A few months back some friends and I were talking, and one friend mentioned how excited people were when they handed out taped recordings of the Bible on a recent overseas trip. He told us how they would gather for hours to listen to the Word of God being read aloud to them. He said, "Maybe in church we need to just play the Scriptures aloud so that people will actually hear them, since they are not reading them." And I (well, I'm pretty sure it was God because I don't know why I would say anything like this) said, "Only if there's a Bible Study in there by Beth Moore or something. That's the only way they would even listen to Scripture." GASP. I know! I was just as surprised that it came out of my mouth as you are! I love Beth Moore, I love her studies and they bring me deeper into the Word. Why would I say that, especially about someone that I love so much, personally as well as professionally? Why would I say that about someone whom I quit my studies in college, prepared to leave family and friends, and was ready to begin my life in a completely different state, just to learn from her how to do what it is she does so many years ago? But, here I was, in a group of people, and I had just said that...out loud...yup, that's why it had to be God. The funny thing was, no one looked at me like I was as crazy as I felt for saying that. No one even acted like they heard anything as ground breaking as what I felt had just come out of my lips. A lot of them said, "You're exactly right." Then we continued with our conversation.
I'm pretty sure they didn't find it to be as earth-shattering of a confession as I did because they were not doing what I was doing. They were not depending on Beth Moore or other amazing, godly teachers to actually tell them what was in Scripture. They actually were reading the Bible on their own. They actually were studying Scriptures from their own perspective, not just a study on one aspect of certain Scriptures, they were actually asking God to reveal these things to them, and not for Beth Moore to reveal them. Don't get me wrong, Bible studies are great, but how do we study the Bible on our own without someone else telling us how to do it? Are we listening for God's revelation of Scriptures for us personally, or are we depending on what He has revealed to someone else to guide us? Am I studying God's word, or am I studying the word of someone else?
That led me to the place I came to last week. Feeling like I should maybe "give up" my Bible studies for 30 days and just purely study the scriptures. I felt like if I gave up my Bible studies then I would be totally dependant on the Bible, on God's voice to teach me, but I never had a peace about that thought. Like I've said in earlier posts, God speaks to us through peace, through affirmation, through confirmation. I just wasn't getting any of those things from this idea about a 30-day Bible study fast. I was confused if it was because I selfishly didn't want to give up my time with such wonderful friends, or if this idea, which could have so easily been something God was calling me to, was actually from the great deceiver. I decided to go to the new Bible study we started at church for our mom's group since I just wasn't feeling a continuous call from God on the 30-day fast. It is on James, so I figured that since it was focusing on a particular book of the Bible that would at least allow me to study the Bible rather than just doing a topical Bible study. But I soon learned that God would use this Bible study, and ironically enough Beth Moore herself, to fulfill this call to study the Bible itself.
Not to even get into all of the details the past several months that have been pointing me in the direction of studying Scripture, of committing it to memory, of digging so much deeper than I ever imagined, here is what is going on in the new Bible study we are working on that just brings to a conclusion all of the convictions God has been laying on my heart. The absolute most exciting thing about this Bible study is that my mommy friends all over the country have begun this study within a week or two of each other. To have women collectively studying and digging deeply into the word of God, and to be studying the same book of the Bible at the same time, I cannot even begin to imagine the party that is going on in Heaven and the anger that is going on in the heart of the deceiver. Not to mention the idea that women everywhere will be coming together to actually memorize an entire book of the Bible, it just gives me goosebumps. God has been calling me to something beyond just a Bible study and daily "homework" assignments. He's been calling me to dig into the Word and to memorize Scriptures, so imagine how shocked I was when we began discussing this new study and I learned that that was exactly what we would be doing! Of course it starts off like most of the studies we've done. It has the video of the teaching and the daily homework assignments. God does know me well enough to know that I need that for my daily discipline, and I believe Satan knows me well enough to know that if he was able to pull me away from this study that I would have fallen into a pit of despair and loneliness trying to study the scriptures on my own with no accountability (I'm so glad that I was able to recognize that God's hand was not in the doubts I had begun to have about this Bible study). But beyond the teachings and the daily accountability it goes deeper, and exactly into the areas I felt God leading me to.
After the videos and daily studies, is handwriting the book of James. That is something I had done as a child and throughout college. It is also something I have strayed from since having children because I got busy and once I started my studies I didn't even think of writing out more than the occasional verse. What a great reminder God has given me to continue to do the things that are so important to my walk, to continue through each new phase of my life, and to continue to diligently seek Him. In this study we are also given the opportunity to memorize the entire book of James as we study. What an amazing culmination of the convictions of God. And to participate in this with women that I love and who will hold me accountable is the greatest joy in all of this. I am so excited about this new study and I can't wait to continue this journey with such amazing, godly women who have supported me, guided me, and encouraged me through everything. But God's conviction about my studies (notice I said studies) did lead me to the place of having to leave one study. This study is leading me exactly where God wants me to be, whereas another study was leading me farther and farther away. It may sound odd to say that a Bible study would actually lead you away from God, but that is exactly what can happen, and it can happen for so many reasons.
I encourage you to really evaluate where your studies are leading you. What are you learning from them? Are you growing not just in your relationships with others, but growing in your relationship with God? When you finish your study can you sit back, look back on where you were before you started, and see God's handing guiding and directing you through it? And most importantly, where does your study line up with Scripture? Is it more the words of man (or woman) than the actual word of God?