Summary: A series of sermons from Richard Foster’s book "Celebration of Discipline."
SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES: STUDY
INTRODUCTION… Time management from The Unleashing Connection, Winter 1990, p. 3
"In one year, the average American will read or complete 3,000 notices and forms, read 100 newspapers and 36 magazines, watch 2,463 hours of television, listen to 730 hours of radio, buy 20 records, talk on the telephone almost 61 hours and read 3 books."
I look at those statistics and I can see how they are true. We do read magazines and newspapers. We all watch TV and listen to radio and talk on the phone. All of these things are normal parts of our lives. These are the ways we take in information and think about it. These are the ways we communicate. But, in the midst of all the magazines and TV, where is reading the Bible? Where is studying God’s Word? Do we make time for this activity? You may wonder why I am going to talk about “study” as a spiritual discipline… because it is!
READ ROMANS 12:2
Romans 12:2 tells us plainly that we as people are transformed by something very specific. What transforms us? It is the renewing of our minds! Studying the Bible is not some habit we should have, but it is a transforming power in our lives. Study gives us a foundation for our faith. I am sure you have heard me say before that it is not only important to know “what” you believe, but you must know “why” you believe it. Study accomplishes that. Study brings about freedom in the Christian life as well because Jesus says (John 8:32) that we “will know the truth and the truth will set us free.”
This principle of freedom is true in every area of human experience. It is true in biology and math. It is true in marriages and in business. But it is especially true in reference to the spiritual life. Many are confused about God and about Jesus Christ because they are ignorant of the Truth. If you don’t know about something, you can’t be successful at it or tell someone else about it! What is worse is perhaps some false teaching they received at one time or another is leading them in a false direction. Study frees us from ignorance and from the bonds of false teaching.
Do you know what’s in your Bible? Do you know the life of Jesus and what He did? Do you know the topics the Apostle Paul wrote about and why he wrote about them? Do you know the history of the nation of Israel and why it’s important for you and for me? My friends, I want to encourage you this morning to commit yourselves to study and allow yourself to receive the benefits from it.
ILLUSTRATION…Bible, Effect of Reading, autoillustrator.com
Some seem to expect the Word of God to hit them like a jolt of adrenaline each time they read or study it. Although the "jolt" may hit us periodically, the benefits of the Word of God act more like vitamins. People who regularly take vitamins do so because of their long-term benefits, not because every time they swallow one of the pills, they feel new strength surging through their bodies. They have developed a habit of consistently taking vitamins because they have been told that, in the long haul, vitamin supplements are going to have a beneficial effect on their physical health, resistance to disease and, general well-being The same is true of reading the Bible. At times it will have a sudden and intense impact on us. However, the real value lies in the cumulative effects that long-term exposure to God’s Word will bring to our lives.
Let us look briefly at this long-term beneficial spiritual discipline of study. I have tried to explain to you why it is important and what some of the promises are if you do it. I’d like to look now at the four basic steps of study.
A. Repeating anything is a sure-fire way to learn and definitely affects the mind.
B. Repeating creates “ingrained habits of thought.”- if you repeat something to yourself, even if you don’t believe it, your inner mind after awhile will be affected. That is basic psychology and how the human mind works.
C. This is why TV advertising is so important as well as advertising on radio. The repetition of the ads gets inside your head and right when its needed, the slogan or picture pops in your head.
D. It is the same with Bible study. Repetition will ingrain the way God wants you to think into your mind and soon you will follow Him.
A. This may seems silly, but when studying, you must focus on what you’re doing. Concentration centers the mind and keeps you from being distracted by every little thing.