They Missed Jesus!
Is it possible to study the Bible without getting to know God? Yes! Think about this: The religious leaders of Jesus’ day fiercely opposed Him, yet they were ardent students of the Bible. They had long portions of Scripture memorized. They could debate every possible meaning. Yet they did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah, the Anointed One.
Why? Jesus explained this way: “You do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” John 5:38-40.
The Pharisees missed the most important fulfillment of prophecy because they lacked a willingness to believe and act on God’s Word. To them, the Scriptures were a book to be studied, not a prescription for life.
How is it for you? Do you study the Bible for knowledge alone? Or do you study with a believing heart, willing to act on the things God shows you?
The truth is this, my friend: We must approach the Bible with faith, as God’s living voice to us. But it doesn’t stop there. We must have a willingness to act on the things God shows us. If we are unwilling to modify our daily lives to line up with God’s truths, we will quickly lose our desire to listen to God’s voice.
Unwilling to Listen
Think of it this way: Does a rebellious child listen to their parents? He/she may have the most loving, kind parents, but their wise guidance is not wanted or heard.
How often are we like that with God! We want our own way so we don’t hear His Voice speaking to us from Scripture. Even if we do listen, we are unwilling to act on the things He shows us. We need a heart change!
Willingness to Act
In John 7:17, Jesus explains the heart preparation needed in order for us to enjoy Bible study and benefit from it. “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on my own authority.”
Did you catch that? Jesus says, “If anyone wills to do His will…” Jesus is speaking here of our willingness and decision to do what God wants, regardless of our feelings about His truths.
The Bible says of Ezra the scribe that he “prepared his heart to seek the Law of God and to do it…” When we prepare our hearts to seek the Law of God and do it, God will bless us as He did Ezra, “the hand of the Lord his God was upon him.” Ezra 7: 10 & 6.
“A true knowledge of the Bible can be gained only through the aid of that Spirit by whom the word was given. And in order to gain this knowledge we must live by it. All that God’s word commands, we are to obey. All that it promises, we may claim. The life which it enjoins is the life that, through its power, we are to live. Only as the Bible is thus held can it be studied effectively.” Ellen White, Education. p. 189
How to Prepare Your Heart for Bible Study
- Choose Faith: Decide to believe that the Bible is the revealed will of God, written to guide you in your daily life. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
- Pray for the Holy Spirit: You are naturally unwilling to listen to God. We all are. Only God can change your heart attitudes. “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one!” Job 14:4. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to transform your thoughts and lead you into the truth. “The Spirit of truth… will guide you into all truth.” John 16:13. Surrender your life to His guidance and pray for Him to give you a new, willing heart. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26.
- Decide to be Willing: God gave you the power to choose your allegiance in the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan. Use that gift to make an unequivocal decision to be willing to follow God, no matter the cost. Like Jesus, you can choose to say: “I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:8. God will make it reality in your life.
- Follow-through: Willingness must show itself in action. God has promised to enable your obedience as you: 1) Prayerfully examine your life to see how to apply the things God is showing you in His Word. 2) Determine to obey and pray for Divine strength to do what He is asking you to do. 3) Discipline yourself to act on truth in the daily choices of your life. “I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statues, and you will keep my judgments and do them.” Ezekiel 36:27.
Take courage friend. If you know you know you lack willingness, then you are exactly where God can help you the most. Tell Him all your reservations, surrender them to Him and trust that He will change you. Begin by praying, “Lord, I am willing to be made willing.” Then watch out, because He will do it!
He will “transform you by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2.
Ezra 7:10; Ephesians 4:22-24; Romans 8:26; Titus 3:4-8; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24. Read the chapter entitled “Consecration” in Steps to Christ by Ellen White. You can read it online HERE. Don’t forget to watch the Video Devotional on Heart Preparation too!
Has God ever asked you to do something during your Bible study time? What did you do? How did He bless you? Share your experience in the comments.
Note: This devotional is part of a 10 part series on 5 Keys to Enjoying God’s Word. If you have not already, please take time to read the devotionals in the series. How to Turn on God’s Alarm Clock, Finding a Quiet Place Alone with God, Faith – Essential Preparation for Bible Study, A Willing Heart for Bible Study, How to Read the Bible, and Tools for Bible Study, Conversation with God, How to be Transformed by God’s Word, God’s Seven Tools for Remembering, Why God Wants You to Share What You Learn. Also, please see the related video devotionals with Pastor McKenzie.