Saturday, April 17, 2010

Laboring In Vain

There's something to be said for those big names in Christendom who write books & put out full length Bible Studies complete with a DVD series & group guide. They're probably doing what they're called to do & many lives have been changed b/c resources like these have been made available. But what about the few who slip through the cracks, who can't seem to commit to a 12 week study that not only requires 2 hours of group time each week, but 30 minutes or more each day reading and answering questions in a book? Application is key. Group time & personal study promote growth, but only when applied. Sometimes group time & personal study promotes distraction from what may actually be needed...

And what might actually be needed is not only application, but grounding. Many of us (me included) have tried to build on a weak foundation. Oh yes, I've said my house is built on the Rock, but again, application makes all the difference. If that declaration is just a sentence made up of magical words, I can shout it from the hill tops, but the truth will be revealed soon enough. When the wind & the rain comes, do I stand firm or do I crumble? If I crumble (as I have done many times), I can be assured that my house was built on something other than the Rock.

So lets say group time & personal study have indeed proven to promote distraction for me... What then? Doing a Bible study isn't wrong & the personal study time is well... personal, right? Isn't that applying the Word to my life? I don't think so. I've spent time in the Word with countless study guides over the years & I didn't change much. I thought I was changing though, I was learning new things after all... & it seemed like that was enough. But lasting change is the litmus test. No application, no change. I can have all the knowledge in the world but if I don't put it into practice, its just useless trivia to me.

Application has its own set of requirements. If I apply a sticker to a window, it sticks. Why? Adhesive. If the adhesive is dirty or rubbed off however, it won't stick. How do we get things to stick? How do we get things grounded, strong, firm & steadfast? We make sure our contact surfaces are clean. We make sure the ground is solid & we dig deep to lay our foundation. That takes more than 2 hours with a group once a week or 30 minutes with a study guide each day. The real work is done outside of these parameters when we take what we've learned & put it to work in our everyday lives. We submit to God & get our hearts clean. We confess our sins, fire up the bulldozers & let the Lord build our house. Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain (Psalm 127:1a NIV).

We can go to church, do studies, read our Bible cover to cover but these things won't benefit to us much if we're not taking our resources to God & applying them to His blueprints. His plans say if we apply the resources we have to His specs, we'll have a house that'll weather anything. But if we cut corners, we're in for trouble. Are we laboring in vain with Bible studies & teaching series? Are we applying what we've learned to this build? Are we clearing out our hearts & digging deep to lay the foundation for a solid house or are we setting ourselves up for shanty living?

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