In the Celebration of The Disciplines Richard Foster defines Study as “ a specific experience in which the mind is enabled to move in a certain direction through careful attention to reality…The principle task of study is a perception into the reality of a given situation, encounter, book, etc.”
Now we take this definition and apply to THE BOOK and this definition comes together quite nice. I particularly like the focus on reality. Reality and the role of the Word working in conjunction with the Holy Spirit. This dynamic duo always present together never in isolation within Study is the means for the apprentice to gain the necessary knowledge in a given situation.
In the spiritual discipline of study, we engage ourselves, above all, with the written and spoken Word of God. In Rom. 12:2 the apostle Paul tells us that we are transformed through the renewal of the mind, and that we cannot just simply copy the behavior of those around us. The discipline of study is an important vehicle by which our minds are renewed by those things that are important to God. Study will help to release us from the bondage of fear and anxieties, and replace that with the knowledge of God’s grace, which will reach the depth of our hearts, minds and souls.
Jesus said in John 8:32, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” Without the truth, we will not be truly free. As we all know, this principle applies to every area, whether we study biology, mathematics or science. But it is especially true in reference to our spiritual walk. In this discussion, we want to focus on our study of spiritual issues.
As we learn from each other, we will be able to identify pitfalls, joys and challenges. The goal is to more fully experience the liberation that Study brings.
This liberation is so aptly described in Phil. 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
In looking at my personal application of this discipline I am reminded of a teaching the Holy Spirit gave me several years ago at a men’s retreat. I was told to think about the Word of God as a fine dinner reservation I was making. I would first need to book it then keep it, then savor it. In working through this analogy an apprentice must have an intentional appointment with the Word that he/she keeps and then savors. Savor here means to ruminate and apply. Given distraction is our biggest enemy to apprenticeship and engaging the Trinity through a spiritual discipline this aspect of booking and keeping is critical to our transformation. To get a feel for the practicality of this analogy think about how often you have broken a dinner reservation compared to blowing off a time of Study? Hmm…. Sorry. We have to face it though if there is going to be any transformational change.
I have used this tool for years now and it has given me a vibrant time of routine study. Look at your time in the Word as feasting on the best meal possible. BOOK IT, KEEP IT, SAVOR IT!
Another quick personal application happened just this week as I spend time in the middle of God’s great South Pacific. You can see the video below I posted in this regard. It had to do with Psalm 139. It is amazing how you can read a passage over and over and get something new as the Spirit works in conjunction with the Word.
This week the Spirit had me sitting on verses 11-12
“If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me, even the darkness will not be dark to you;the night will shine like the day,for darkness is as light to you.
These verses showed me again the utter neeed we have for knowing we are always in the PRESENCE. The ramifications of this knowledge is breath taking. One additional thought that came to me in addition to what is on the video is the fact that those of us who have been to the third world have always marveled at the joy in the lives of people who live in very dire straits. These verses bring reality to what we have seen on these trips. In the midst of darkness God’s light shines on the darkness making it light. The people who walk in His presence are always in the light yielding joy a persuasive sense of well being in the midst of their circumstances. Many of us have always said these folks should be on a mission plane to the church in the USA not us coming to them., they seem to have everything we don’t.
As always please share with us your experiences with Study. This blog is for you to be encouraged and to encourage others.
I thought I would add a song that talks about my last point dealing with the third world. Enjoy!