Not Enough Study

My break from television revealed to me a second serious assessment: I do not study enough.

The kind of study to which I am referring is that of God’s word for my personal development. We preachers have a tendency to study only what we are preaching the next weekend. The conviction of not enough study comes at a much more intimate level. I am speaking of individual study of God’s word.

It is one thing to study for a message, Bible study lesson or personal devotion. It is quite another to study the Bible for personal growth and spiritual development.

One of my favorite books of the Bible says this about the importance of personal study:

For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.

Ezra 7:10

A man after God’s own heart must “set his heart to study the Law of the Lord.” And note why we study it: “to do it and to teach his statutes.” We do not study God’s Word to impress others or ourselves. We do not study God’s Word to grow in knowledge. We study God’s Word to do what it says, and to teach others what His Word says.

In the next chapter, we read were the nation of Israel followed Ezra’s example is studying the Word of God:

On the second day the heads of fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and the Levites, came together to Ezra the scribe in order to study the words of the Law.

Ezra 8:13

The people saw the by-product of Ezra’s study, and they wanted the same for themselves.

Our goal in studying should be the same as the goal Paul set for Timothy, when he said,

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

This is where God nailed me on not studying enough: I studied for my messages but I was not studying for my own personal spiritual growth.

Ouch! Again, the conviction was so strong. I trust you will use my candidness for your personal benefit.

I work hard preparing my messages each week, but as for personal study I was neglecting to do my “best to present myself to God as one approved”. I was devoting myself to the public result of learning without giving myself to the private effort of individual research.

Don’t get me wrong. I study, and I study diligently each week. But most of my preparation is devoted to what I say on Sunday morning. God wanted me to start examining what I was learning for Monday through Saturday morning.

You may not know it, but this was a defining moment for me when I realized I was not studying enough.

Athletes would call a preacher with this mindset a “gamer”. “Gamers” are individuals who show up and exert effort only in game-time situations. They take it easy during practice. When the whistle sounds and the crowd cheers, “gamers” play hard. When it is practice-time, however, they get lazy. I was being lazy with regard to personal study habits. I was a “gamer”.

For me, game time was studying for and presenting my weekly message. Practice time was the alone moments I spent in my own personal devotion. Thanks to giving up the tube, the Lord let me know clearly I was not studying enough.

On a positive note, I would like for you to see the benefit of personal study time.

In my message Sunday morning I presented my views on the doctrine of election. Some of you might think I developed my thoughts earlier in my week. However, what you don’t know is that it took me years of study to arrive at what I delivered to you. My thoughts on election were not something I generated last week. These thoughts were a conclusion of years of study and reflection.

Thank the Lord I have not been negligent in all my private devotions. There are seasons where I have studied more than usual. Thankfully that came true for me this weekend as we entered into our study on Ephesians. When I was wrestling with what to teach you last weekend, I fell back on my years of study devoted to the mysterious doctrine of predestination.

Before leaving Sunday morning a CrossPointer asked me to include my written thoughts on election in my daily blog. Since it has something to do with studying enough I thought I would include my thoughts for those interested. I will do that in tomorrow’s blog. Then on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I want to conclude the Not Enough series I have developed from television fast.

Until the, continue to study.


2 Responses to “Not Enough Study”

  1. 1 GAY
    April 1, 2008 at 9:29 am

    Ouch! I would say that most of us are “gamers” on Sunday. We walk the walk, do our service what ever it is, from driving the cart to teaching Sunday school, and then on Monday we are back to the real world. I am not sure I really like these series of blogs. I don’t think we have enough bandaids to cover the wounds. Keep it up and we will be better if we heed it.

  2. April 2, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Gay,thank you for your encouragement. A friend of mine says we show up on Sunday and proclaim Jesus is alive, then we go out on Monday and live as if He is dead. I want the resurrection power of Christ active in every area of my life. That is why I want to pray more, study more, read more and think more. Perhaps I should have called this series, “When is Enough not Enough.”

    Thank you for your candid response.

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