My wife Courtney and I love great food, watching food shows and cooking. Our date night preference usually involves finding a great local food spot and trying a recommended dish on the menu.
Courtney is a great cook, and one of my favorite things she makes is her take on baked beans along with green chile mac-n-cheese. But you know what? As good as they are on the day she makes them, they taste even better after they set in the fridge overnight. In fact, if you listen to great chefs, many will encourage you to prepare food and let it set or simmer. This way, the flavor of the ingredients intensifies and really permeates the dish.
As you are leading in discipleship ministry, this same principle can be a powerful tool in considering methods for studying the Scripture with an individual or small group. There are many approaches to studying the Bible, but taking your time has great advantages. Just like food takes on more flavor as it allows the ingredients to do their work, moving through a Bible passage slowly creates space for the Holy Spirit to speak to us and allows the truth of God’s Word to permeate our hearts.
Throughout the Bible, the Holy Spirit teaches us how dwelling on the Word of God allows the truth to transform us. In Psalms, we see the authors describing how they meditate on the word or law of the Lord. In Psalm 1, the author uses the image of a tree planted by a stream of water, slowly taking in water from the ground for life amid a difficult desert. Jesus described Himself as a vine that gives life to the branches in John 15, commanding His disciples to abide in Him. Only through the truth and power of Christ does real fruit grow in our spiritual lives.
So, what are steps we can take in letting the truth of God’s Word set and simmer in our hearts? First, get your ingredients together—in other words, make a plan. Determine what sections the Bible you will study, how long will the study be and what pace you will take throughout the study.
For example, you could take a group or person through the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5-7. Over the next 12 weeks, focus on one passage for the week, reading it every day.
Next, determine some practices to employ for specific ways will you meditate on the truths found in the Scripture. This might look like planning a certain time each day to read the passage for the week.
As the Holy Spirit speaks through your time in the Word, write down in a journal the truths you hear to take with you throughout the day. Each break at work or quiet space during the day, take out that journal, read that truth and ask the Holy Spirit to hide it in your heart. The more you practice this, the more you will see that truth become an opportunity to live it out in the circumstances throughout your life.
This is just one example of setting the truth and letting it simmer. You can also make a commitment to replace social media time with reading the Bible passage for the week. Each time you would open that app, open the Bible instead. Find a quiet place outside to be still in God’s creation and think about the truth you hear from Holy Spirit. Plan a time to look back on your life and see how God worked in this truth around you.
You might also have some other methods for meditating on the truth of God’s Word, but the goal should always center on creating space and time for the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts and transform us.
Just like making great food, taking your time makes all the difference in the world.