What’s the best answer for our hunger? God’s plenty. In fact God invites us to his table to feast on his plenty.
We’ll find his plenty on the pages of our Bible. The second half of Hungry equips us to find gospel food to nourish our souls throughout the week. But before we roll up our sleeves and get to work, we need to have a little talk.
Personal Bible study doesn’t always come easy for us, does it? And we often assume we’re the only ones struggling, that everyone else has a plan and sticks with it. So when the topic comes up, we keep quiet and just sit there feeling guilty or defensive.
We talked about that last night. I asked:
What has made personal Bible study hard for you in the past?
One woman took the first question and ran with it. “I’m so glad you asked this. I always feel like a failure in this area. The thing is, I know it’s important to spend time in God’s word, but I never hear what to do with the ups and downs I experience.” Other people piped in quickly with their own version of the story:
- “I have trouble focusing–I find I keep reading the same verse over and over.”
- “I fall asleep when I read the Old Testament.”
- “Bible Study Fellowship intimidated me, I was always afraid I had the wrong answer.””
- “Children destroyed my quiet time.”
- “I get distracted by my to do list or the messes I see around me.”
Yet each person who shared also kept getting up and trying again. Why? Because they found God was faithful to use his Word in their lives, no matter how imperfectly they took it in.
Does Scripture command a “quiet time”?
Then I asked a second question:
Does Scripture command “devotions” or a “quiet time”?
As we considered what the Bible says about itself, we realized the answer is, “No, but….” The Bible does encourage us to feed on God’s word in many ways:
- Deuteronomy 6:6-9, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart…”
- Psalms 1:1-2, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked…but his delight is in the law of the Lord.”
- Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…”
- 1 Timothy 4:13, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”
- 2 Timothy 4:2, “preach the word…reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”
However, it seems the preached word is to be our main meal. Our own study and meditation flows from that during the week. That truth seemed to take the burden from our shoulders.
Personal Bible Study is the study of a Person
But when we do open our Bibles at home, what are we expecting? Answers to our questions? Guidance for our day? Food for our hunger?
We are expecting to meet a Person.
God wants us to know him. He has taken the initiative by speaking. He spoke in order to tell us things about himself that we couldn’t know any other way. Unless he spoke to us first, we couldn’t know him truly, as he really is, not as we think he might be. That’s why he spoke, first in creation, then through the prophets,
“…but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” (Hebrews 1:2)
If we open our Bibles to meet God, we will find that we see him most clearly through Jesus. The picture we get of God goes from black and white to high definition TV when we see it fleshed out in the life and death of our Savior.
Meet the Divine Host
Jesus shows us the Father.
This principle became so clear to us when we met our Divine Host, first in the pages of Isaiah, and then in the words of Luke and John.
Isaiah writes, but it is God himself who speaks, “Come”
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come tot he waters;
and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!
Cone, buy wine and milk without m oney and without price” (Isaiah 55:1).
We read the whole chapter (Isaiah 55:1-13), and then began observing everything we could about the character of our Divine Host. The passage was dripping with his gracious presence.
Then we turned to the familiar story of Jesus coming for dinner at the house of Mary and Martha. With Isaiah’s picture of God fresh in our minds, we considered how Jesus made the Divine Host come to life. Here is some of what we observed:
- Jesus was the real host that day, not Martha.
- Jesus was feeding Mary the truth about himself, God the Son
- He knew Martha’s need and also her reluctance.
- Jesus was inviting Martha to leave her serving in order to be served by him.
The gentle chiding we hear in the passage reminded us of how personal God’s invitation is to each of us. He knows us, and knows what is keeping us from coming to him.
What’s Keeping Me From the Table?
We are all reluctant guests who are being pursued by our persistent Divine Host. Even when we sit down and open our Bibles, we often are distracted. We think we already know this God. We don’t expect any surprises in this familiar book. It’s our agenda we bring. We bring our preconceived notions.
We are half-hearted guests, who come late and leave early, giving excuses on our way out. Why?
“Saying yes to any invitation means saying no to something else. Martha had to leave her serving in order to come. What might God be asking us to leave so that we can come?” (Hungry, p. 144).
The question hung in the air as we ended.
It was a question to be pondered and prayed.