I started attending church at the age of 7. I went to Sunday School, then Bible Class, then Youth Fellowship. But I never came across the idea of independent Bible study in a meaningful way until I attended a Scripture Union Scotland camp in 2005 where “quiet times” were mentioned. Most people nodded and seemed to understand this concept, but it was completely new to me. It was so new that I kind of ignored it until another Scripture Union Scotland camp later that same year when it was the main topic of a talk. Suddenly I realised that I had missed this huge, important thing!
I remember hearing a phrase while growing up, “God doesn’t have grandchildren” and it’s true. We are not saved because our parents are saved, our faith is not our parent’s faith and it should not be our parents faith. God wants a personal relationship with each of us. This is something which cannot be achieved if all we do is listen to stories about Him in church.
Think about it. If all you know of someone is what someone else tells you once a week for an hour, do you really know that person?
To get to know anyone we need to spend time with them, and to decide if we like them, we need to look at what they do and how they react to different situations. I’m going to admit that when you first start getting to know God, this can be hard. Thankfully He has given us the Bible, this glorious letter to His people that tells us exactly who He is, exactly what He does, exactly how He reacts to different situations, and exactly how much He loves us.
This is not a book to be opened once a week to a couple of verses and then ignored on a shelf. It should be dived into regularly and studied so that we can get to know God and have that personal relationship with Him.
An amazing thing happens the more we do this; we get to know God more and our relationship with Him grows and everything becomes much easier. We start to know how He wants us to react to situations and how He reacts to them. We start to develop a trust in Him, a faith that we didn’t have when we were simply acting as a pew warmer.
But studying God’s word in isolation is where the devil gets in. We see a verse that we don’t quite understand and we either ignore it and risk losing the lesson it has for us or we assume we can guess its meaning and risk getting it wrong. Or we learn reams of verses by heart but never fully grasp the practical applications of them. Or quite simply, we get bored and give up. None of this is in God’s plan.
As we’re told:
Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11 “And so encourage one another and help one another, just as you are now doing.”
Proverbs 27:17 “People learn from one another, just as iron sharpens iron.”
[Good News Translation (GNT)
Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society] – in a footnote if possible
I could go on. There are many times when the Bible tells us to study and learn together. This provides us with new perspectives, with accountancy, with stewardship, with friendship, and with the ability to share this journey with others. We are not alone; we are part of the body of Christ and that helps us to draw nearer to God.
From my experience back at that Scripture Union Scotland camp, I know that coming together with other Christians can help build your personal relationship with God, because I’ve seen it and I’ve experienced it. Now through Re:Treat Ministries UK, I want to share that experience, that fellowship, that iron sharpening iron with as many women as possible, especially the ones who feel so stressed and busy right now that they are struggling to be more than pew warmers.
We’re currently away on a retreat enjoying some group bible study but news about our next retreat will be announced soon.