Most of us would agree that the past months have been some of the weirdest times we’ve ever gone through. 2020 was characterised by global shakings, controversial debates, divisive opinions and a lot of disillusionment – especially in the Church.
In light of all that, we are reminded that the only news source we really can rely on is the Bible! Prognoses and prophetic words may fail but the word of God is 100% reliable. God’s word is truth, unchanging, trustworthy and it will surely come to pass.
The Bible tells us that there are more shakings to come. Especially “truth” will be more and more under attack and confusion will increase.
So for 2021, I have determined (God help me!) to make personal Bible study a priority. And I encourage you to do the same. It is high time to build a solid and save foundation for our future.
Here are five benefits of personal Bible study (this list of course is non-exhaustive).
Five benefits of personal Bible study
1. We will get to know God by studying the Bible
The prophet Daniel spoke about a ruler who will deceive and seduce many of God’s covenant people. Many scholars believe this prophecy concerns the End Times, when the antichrist will arise and seduce parts of the Church. Whether this is about the antichrist or an antichrist-figure – be it a person, ideology or movement – Daniel says that only those who know their God will resist deception!
“He will flatter and win over those who have violated the covenant. But the people who know their God will be strong and will resist him.” (Daniel 11:32, NLT)
If we want to get to know God, we need to get to know his word. In the Bible, God shares his thoughts with us. He speaks about the plans he has for the world and for us personally. He reveals his fatherly love and tender care for us.
The Bible also tells of God’s mighty deeds in history, especially in the history of his people Israel. They were recorded, so we can be encouraged and learn from them.
The more time we spend reading the Bible, mediate on it and ask the Holy Spirit to give us understanding, the more we will know God. As a consequence, our confidence grows and our faith gets stronger – because we know what an awesome and all-powerful God we serve!
2. Loving the Bible gives us peace
“Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble.” (Psalm 119:165 NKJV)
This really hit home recently.
So many believers are concerned about the future. They worry about the current situation, changes of government, their freedom and many more things. (They may not admit it, but you can tell by the amount of alarming doomsday messages they forward on a near daily basis.)
Although I try to shield myself from that, it is not always possible in this age of technology. And so, even the few video clips and news I saw negatively affected me. I began to feel fear and even anger towards God for forcing this “horrible future” on me. (Be sure to also read: How to get through this lockdown and come out stronger)
2.1 Fear is not of God
I remembered a lesson I had learned a while back: whenever I begin to feel restlessness or fear of the future, or when I imagine “all those bad things that could possibly happen” – these thoughts are never from God! I can honestly say that God has never used fear as a means to guide me in life.
I have seen God’s hand of protection again and again, but God never used fear. And in those seasons when I did fear or worry, the things I worried about never came to pass.
This is what Scripture tells us. Jesus has promised to leave us peace and give us peace (John 14:27). Isaiah speaks of being led in peace (Isaiah 55:12). Colossians 3:15 tells us that peace should act as the umpire – the referee – in our hearts.
So let’s have our hearts filled with peace – by loving God’s word!
2.2 How do we love God’s word?
According to Psalm 119:165, we experience peace when we love the word of God! In the Bible, love, אהב, is not a cheap overused phrase as it is today (“I love your shoes!” –“Really?”)
We love God’s law (the Bible) by placing a higher value to what it tells us, than to the opinions of others or even our own. We love God’s law when we live according to its principles, follow its instructions and really believe wholeheartedly what it says.
There’s a saying that children spell love T-I-M-E. And maybe that is a good indicator for us, whether we L-O-V-E the Bible 😉 You get what I mean.
3. God’s word sustains and strengthens us
Another benefit of personal Bible study is that it sustains us in wilderness seasons. When God led the Israelites 40 years through the wilderness, he sustained them by feeding them with the manna from Heaven. It taught the Israelites to depend on God entirely and remind them “that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 8:3, NIV)
The Bible calls the manna the “bread of Heaven” which is a foreshadow of the true bread of Heaven – Jesus (John 6:35). To safely get through a wilderness season – a difficult, tiring and dangerous time – we need to feed on the word coming from God’s mouth just like the Israelites had done.
Let’s look at how the Israelites fed on the manna:
- They had to gather it daily
- They had to gather for themselves (it was not transferrable)
- Their portion was always the exact amount they needed for that day
We can also find negative example: many times the Israelites grew tired of the manna. The consequence was spiritual weakness. When the time had come to conquer the Promised Land, they were unfit and overcome by fear.
“Familiarity breeds contempt” and we need to caution ourselves from that. We must never take God’s word for granted, be bored by it or devaluate it. Let’s make sure we’re ready when we reach our Promised Land! (Be sure to also read: Four steps to get ready for your breakthrough)
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4. Studying the Bible equips us for life
4.1 Reading the Bible makes us wise
“The instructions of the LORD are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.” (Psalm 19:7, NLT)
Sometimes I need to take decisions, or face situations, that I feel way too inexperienced for. It is as if these things are “beyond me”. And when I think of decisions I might need to take this year, I feel so helpless.
But thank God, there is hope for me – and you! Reading the word of God makes us wise! It teaches us to discern right from wrong. It sharpens our mind and spirit and guides us in our decision-making.
4.2 The Bible gives us discernment
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16, NLT)
Jesus and the Apostles warned us that false teachers and new doctrines would arise and try to confuse us. It is by knowing the Bible well, that we will be able to train our senses and discern “lies that sound like the truth” (Hebrews 5:13-14; Ephesians 4:14).
4.3 The Bible lights our path
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105, NIV)
In a world that is getting darker and darker, we need the word more than ever to discern what way to turn and which step to take. The word of God illuminates our path and gives us the security we need to make the next step in the right direction.
5. God’s word is a source for success
When Joshua was about to step into his calling, God revealed to him the key to be successful: mediating on the word of God and living by it (Joshua 1:8).
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8, NKJV)
In the original Hebrew text “you will have good success” is actually a verb, “taskil” (תשכיל). Other words originating from the same root are translated as “to behave wisely”, “be skilful” or “be prudent” (e.g. in Proverbs 19:14 – if you ever wondered what “prudent wife” meant!)
According to that, to be successful means to be a) skilful and b) to know what to do in any given situation. And this brings us back to spending time with the Bible and allowing it to change and renew our thinking. If our thinking becomes aligned with the will of God our actions will also and we will behave wisely.
The Bible – Our solid foundation
If we want to safely navigate through an increasingly dark world, we need to go deep into the Bible. Jesus tells us to be hearers and doers of his word so we can brace any storm (Matthew 7:24-25). Once the storm hits, it will be too late to start laying a foundation.
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