Why not start a Bible Study?

 

Why not Start a Bible Study?

It was a quiet Thursday morning when I awoke to do my morning devotions. Don't think me the super Christian because of this; it wasn't a pretty sight. I rolled off the bed like a primary school child, one hand clinging to my sheets and the other fingering through the pages of a tattered bible. I was half-blind, drunk with sleep and had morning breath that could kill a small bird. Probably the furthest time from which I would expect God to speak but He was there and He wasn't silent.

I had a burden on my heart that morning for the truth of God's word in the lives of His people. I knew many who laboured over:

  • Studies (*add your degree/education here*)
  • Jobs (“I hope my list of extra-curricular activities on my resume is long enough...”)
  • Women (“Only 2 years older than me? I can live with that...”)
  • Men (“Only 2 years younger than me? I can live with that...”)
  • Health (“This KFC Real Deal will be the death of me...”)
  • Fitness (“2 laps around UWI? – Lord, take me now...”)
  • *Insert further labours here*             

But what place did they give the word of God in their lives? What place did I give it in my life? This troubled me.

As important as it was though, it was not my only burden. I was a post-university student with a steady job, a fiancé and very much involved in church ministry. At face value, it might have appeared as though everything was in line. But on the inside, I was personally burdened by what I would say now was a desire for true togetherness with Christian brothers and sisters.  

So sincerely, I prayed to God for help- and he answered.

“Why not start a Bible Study?” The thought floated along a river and dumped into an ocean of good reasons why I should not. What will we study? Who will come? Where will we meet? Will they think it interesting? At the very worst, we would sit around a hard wooden table on uncomfortable chairs and get eaten by mosquitoes, while no one except me said a word for thirty minutes straight. Yet even if those things happened, perhaps just as likely, the Spirit could begin or continue to work. There was a sense of God’s leading that I could not shake. I contacted some people who had expressed a desire to study the word of God more and that evening, about six of us met over Luke 19:1-10 and a pot of soup. I didn’t imagine God would relieve both of those burdens through this one avenue. Being a Christian for several years now, when I thought God could not ‘catch me off guard’ I was genuinely surprised, and full of thanks.

Studying the Bible is for every believer (and unbeliever, if they’re honestly searching) at any and every stage in their Christian walk. It’s one of those tools in the shed that has been tested and proven. Sadly, it’s often the last tool we use.

The major focus of this blog post is not how to conduct a Bible study. No need to re-invent the wheel. For some helpful guidelines on conducting one, check out Intervarsity’s website here: http://www.intervarsity.org/bible-studies and https://urbana.org/go-and-do/missional-life/taking-manuscript-study-back-campus#prep.

 

Note: Personally, I’ve used the “Manuscript Bible Study” format that I learned at Urbana 12. There, I sat in a room of over 300 people, met in small groups of 6-7 persons and discussed God’s word in a way I had never done before. The studies were fresh, authentic and presented by experienced personnel who made it insightful and edifying. I’m writing this post in the hope that by sharing briefly what studying God’s word in a small group has done for me, you would feel led to start a study group among your peers.  

Seeing things at eye level

Passages that I’ve read several times become clearer as I saw them at ‘eye level’ and from different, but equally valuable perspectives. During one study, we were ankle deep in Matthew 18:21-35 (the parable of the unforgiving servant). Jesus was talking to Peter about putting limits on forgiveness. As stated by one attendee that day, “the denari of which my brother/sister requires forgiveness is absolutely nothing compared to the thousands of talents worth that God has forgiven me.” Studying this passage helped me see the magnitude of my own forgiven sin before God. We were there playing out the passage in our minds, looking at the vast difference between what each servant owed, feeling grieved over the one who was blind to the enormous debt he was forgiven of and thankful to God for His Son who took our debt of sin on Himself. It was a simple but deeply significant time of study and fellowship.

Sharing in close bonds of fellowship

In a small group, we couldn’t help but get involved in each other’s lives and indeed, we wanted to do so. Caring for Christian brothers and sisters allows us to share something of what I’ve read in Acts: being of one accord. It’s a togetherness that I’ve only experienced where Christ is the centre of a group. I see that same study group now and think of them as family. We care about each other’s lives and celebrate each other’s victories; I have gone to them with my prayer requests and I often pray for them. Studying God’s word in a small group is nurturing a unique type of fellowship in our lives.

 

Being surrounded by others who share a heart for the word of God has granted me great joy. Never have I more enjoyed meeting with believers to hear how the word of God affects their hearts and guides their thoughts, molding and shaping them as clay in a potter’s hands. Jesus knew exactly what He was doing when He chose an intimate circle of twelve to be the start of Christianity. God can use such a small group to nurture and disciple believers into close bonds of fellowship, to serve as support for when the torrents pound and the wind tosses about. Just as importantly, the word can be firmly planted in our hearts as the go-to tool for life’s various struggles.

 

Conrad Chang -Graduate of the University of the West Indies.

Conrad Chang -Graduate of the University of the West Indies.

As a final recommendation, I want to tell you that our group has never felt pressured by numbers. The aim here is not to start a church and experts recommend that groups of this sort contain their numbers to about ten to twelve persons. However many you decide to study with, keep God’s word at the group’s centre. Where two or three are gathered in His name, He is there. Happy studying!

#ChurchGirl - Gabrielle Mallet

I grew up   as the sole child of two ministers and attended church regularly. I went to a Christian pre-school, primary school and secondary school. My  immediate family and close relatives  all believed in Jesus and  made Him the  Lord and Savior of their lives and faithfully attended church services every Sunday . It felt like I was branded even before I was born, like my path was set out for me and I was not to even consider straying from it. I wasn’t given the option to choose otherwise or to become involved in ‘any foolishness’  according to my parents .

 

 However,   although my upbringing seemed to suggest that I was a Christian, I was not!. My friends were the regular unsaved church goers, and  my mind was focused on my fleshly desires and anything other than representing the God   to  whom I owed my existence. But I was still the smart, little church girl everywhere I went; I really could not hide it. Apparently, everyone saw a halo over my head , not my friends, of course, but everyone else. And I really did not mind  this, I used it to mask my unclean heart. “She would never do that, her father is a preacher”,  people said, whenever it was suggested that I had misbehaved, in anyway , but I was no saint. Even though I knew what I was doing; playing church and harboring an unclean heart, I really didn’t understand what I was doing.

It was , during a vibrant Carnival season much like this year’s, while I was in camp  that I really understood what I was doing. Camp is usually a place where persons have close encounters with God. The camp program usually consist of  sessions which take place very early in the morning, which are called devotions,  and more sessions during the day..... During devotions,  we examined various passages from the Bible and  the word of God was also shared during the other sessions, The Bible says that “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17), and it also compares God’s word to a mirror which allows us to see the conditions of our hearts (James 1:23).  As God’s word was shared at various sessions, during camp, I began to see how much I needed God and how contrary the life I was living and my actions were to His word.  

During this time, I saw who I was and I got a wakeup call. It brought tears to my eyes when I realized that God took His time and crafted me, and  time again  He placed me   in situations where I had to face Him . He went through all that trouble just because he loves me and wanted me at His side. What  had I done in return? I had “two-timed” God. It was at that time, when I saw that I had been  selected by God to serve Him, that I was chosen, I began to see who God really wanted me to be and  decided to change. I no longer wanted to continue playing games, and decided that it was time to get serious.

All  that I had done in the past was done, because I had no idea who God called me to be or who He really was. I wanted to rebel from the ‘kill-joy’ environment that I was in. But God is good,  and  He showed me who I was called to be and what His  purposes were for ,my life. It propelled me to give my life to God, for real.  I had repeated many prayers in which I surrendered my life to Him, before, but this one (one which I said at camp due to the experiences I had there)…I didn’t even have to repeat, it was my own.

 Sometimes  we are blinded to our own state,  we are not able to really see who we are  and what we have allowed ourselves to become  by drifting away from God.  But  God is earnestly trying to get our attention so that we can know who we are in Christ Jesus, so that we can represent Him. Many of us deny God at school, work and other places and we aren’t even aware of what we are doing to ourselves, or of the implications of our actions.. Let us choose to put a smile on God’s face every day. Leave who you were (the self who was ruled by sinful desires) behind you and explore who you are in Jesus.

Gabrielle Mallet -

IVCF Costaat President (2013-2014)