Did You Study?

I am certain that the above question is quite familiar to you. In fact, every Sabbath it is put to each member present in every Sabbath school class. Essentially, the question seeks to ascertain those who studied the lesson for the week.
However, there is more to the question; for it indicates whether members are giving attention to daily worship and by extension whether the church is growing spiritually. You will recall that some time back I referred to the results of a survey that pointed to a small percentage of Seventh-day Adventists who read their Bible and pray regularly. For that reason, I proffer some benefits of daily worship.

Benefits of Daily Devotion

First among the benefits of a daily devotion is that it allows for growth in one’s relationship with God. In Mark 3:14, Jesus is represented as appointing 12 disciples “that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach.” So often the phrase, “that they might be with Him,” is overlooked, as there is a tendency to emphasize “doing” as opposed to “being.” Daily devotion provides time for being with God; and that is a definite need of mankind whether he recognizes it or not.
Additionally, time with God allows for one to gain a sense of his or her sinfulness and to seek forgiveness from God. And though struggling daily with shortcomings of various types, we are sinners saved by grace. So as I read my Bible, follow the Lesson Study plan, and pray, I am inclined to confess and seek God for forgiveness and His enabling power.
Also, my days are more manageable. Now, that is not to say that one will not have challenges or face the unexpected. They are inevitable, but time with God provides the disposition and perspective that might not have otherwise been experienced.
It does something for my spouse when she hears my intercession in her behalf as I call her by name. Likewise, our children are encouraged by our prayers and later, if not now- I hope, will have reasons to recall and play back in their minds those morning and evening worships.
Then there is the opportunity to grow in knowledge. As a minister with 30 years of experience, I never cease to be amazed about what I learn just from studying the Sabbath School lessons. For instance, in the last Quarter of 2010, Thursday, October 14th edition of the Lesson Study regarding the Old Testament character Hannah, I was most impressed but also challenged by the sterling example of a mother who gave her most treasured and precious possession to God. Yes, Hannah, who promised God that should He bless her with a son, she would give him back to the Lord, kept her promise. And that she did so under what I might regard as unfavorable conditions, for example passing her young son to Eli who seemed to have no control of his own sons, speaks to faithfulness and explicit trust in God- even when her mind told her otherwise.

When We Do Not Study
On the other hand, when we fail to make time for God and for His Word, we miss out on opportunities to grow spiritually, resulting in our days seeming to be out of control. Maybe this explains why although we are so busy, we cannot point to what we have accomplished. Or maybe we are accomplishing this and that but feel so empty and so unfulfilled.
Are we happy or are we grumpy? Shouldn’t we be exuding the love of Christ? If we are finding fault with everyone but ourselves, then maybe we might not be spending enough time with God, reading His Word and praying. I cannot speak for you, but I have been there; and it is only when I retreat, or pull away from everything and everybody that I regain focus, assurance and confidence. Consider the following description of Christ: “Jesus Himself, while He dwelt among men, was often in prayer. Our Saviour identified Himself with our needs and weakness, in that He became a suppliant, a petitioner, seeking from His Father fresh supplies of strength, that He might come forth braced for duty and trial. He is our example in all things” (SC, 93.4). Consider that “if the Saviour of men, the Son of God, felt the need of prayer, how much more should feeble, sinful mortals feel the necessity of fervent, constant prayer” (Ibid).
So as I sum up this Ministerial Weekly, there is more to that question, “Did you study?” That is necessary for my soul and your soul’s salvation. For each day the church has arranged a portion of Scripture for you and me to read and study that we may grow in God’s grace and knowledge; and one day, hopefully soon, Jesus will come to take us to be with Him. And we shall be in the very presence of God. Therefore, I urge that we make time for the Morning Watch reading and the Sabbath School Lesson. The Lesson Study can make you a learned and spiritual student of the Word of God. Is it any wonder Job exclaimed, “I esteemed Thy word more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12). To worship is to live!

Have a great weekend! Vision 1Million to be launched on September 3 in your field.