Hi, this is Noel. Today we are going to describe the benefits of following your desire and introduce Step 2 in devotional Bible study--Finding the Lessons. But first, let me tell you a story about my first semester at Seminary....
(You can either read the Lesson or watch the video. To take notes either print out the Lesson, follow along in the book, or use a separate piece of paper to write out the answers to the questions below.)
I felt nervous as I stood in the Dallas Theological Seminary bookstore. In a few short weeks I would enter the school as a first year student and I had some serious doubts about my ability to succeed in a program so demanding--especially since my background was engineering and the study of the Bible was basically a liberal arts curriculum.
In engineering, most assignments involved reading a few pages from the book and working out several pages of problems. In DTS, I would be required to read thousands of pages and write several long papers each week.
I knew I needed help with my reading skill so I selected the book How to Read a Book from the bookstore. I figured that should take care of things. Then after I took it home and started reading, I noticed the book was over 400 pages long and school started in a few weeks. So I went back to the bookstore and bought the book How to Read Better and Faster so I could get through How to Read a Book.
The first day of classes arrived and I began the legendary workload. During the first week I got the assignments for the semester for all my classes and spread them out, as best I could, on a large chart then sat back and shuddered. This was too much work. According to my estimates I would need to study 200 hours each week to keep up.
Denise and I both studied the chart trying to decide what to do. It was clear that God called me to help others study the Bible and DTS had the best program to prepare me for that, but I had to face the looming possibility that I could fail at this.
Then Denise suggested a novel idea. She said this was too much work not to enjoy. "What about just doing what you want to do? If you want to study, then study, if not, then don't. If you want to study a particular subject, then study it, if not, then don't. Let your Desire be the guide for what you do and how much you do it. That way, even if you fail, you still get what you wanted from the program."
This sounded like science fiction. I had a natural interest in some of the courses like Greek and Hebrew. But other courses I did not like at all. In one course I needed to explore the oblique process of dating pottery from an archeological site. Plus, my performance in school had only been average up to that point, and I could not see how backing off the push would give me any chance of success.
Then something amazing happened. When I consulted what I wanted to do, I discovered that a surprising amount of the time I wanted to be responsible.
Encouraged by that, I looked at the courses I did not like, to see if there was anything I wanted to learn from them. Surprisingly, when I took this approach I discovered that it was an interesting puzzle to try and guess the age of a piece of pottery given the little bit of information we have to go on. As I surfaced things I wanted to get from my least favorite courses I was surprised to discover what I wanted from the course was not far from what the professor wanted me to know.
Once I was in touch with what I wanted to do, creativity came out of nowhere and went to work on the 200 hours per week. I found and interviewed people who were good students and learned what worked for them. I learned how to take better notes in class and how to spend less time studying for tests in content classes. I made sure to give the majority of my time to my favorite courses and figured out ways to do the efficient minimum on classes I liked the least.
After all the dust settled, my schedule was possible—all because it was something I wanted to do.
Make no mistake, following my Desire did not guarantee success. In fact, sometimes when there was a lot of pressure and I did not want to study, the idea of following my Desire seemed to work against me.
But, in a very surprising way, following my Desire put me in the best place to succeed because it got me running at peak efficiency, with peak creativity and a positive attitude. It told me when I needed rest and it told me when I could successfully push. The amount of Discipline I needed to get through the rough spots felt reasonable since it was in service of accomplishing what I wanted to do.
Your Desire is your most effective tool in negotiating a collection of conflicting requirements. There is no more effective arbitrator regardless of your personality. Desire helps the hard driving person not burn out. Desire helps the free spirit focus without feeling forced.
But Desire does not live in a vacuum. Your deepest and truest Desires live in the same space as your shallow and passing Desires and with things that seem like Desires but are not.
How can you distinguish your true Desires from the others? Your true Desires surface when you minimize the Desire Killers (described in Lesson 8) and get a clear fix on what you want the most.
Skill Time: Finding the Lessons, Example 1
After you surface the Facts, the next step is to determine the Lessons that can be learned from the Facts. What is God teaching me here? Is there a command to obey, a warning to heed, a promise to hold on to, a comfort to enjoy, or an action that sheds light on God's personality and values? If so, that is a Lesson and should be written in this panel.
12. After step 1, Surfacing the Facts, the next step is to determine the
Here is some practice with the first 2 Steps in Bible study. Read the passage below and write out what you see (Step 1: Facts) in the space provided, then see if you can find and write down something you can learn (Step 2: Lessons) from the passage.
Psalm 28:7a The LORD is my strength and shield.... (NASB)
Step 1: Facts ~ What do you see in the passage?
Step 2: Lessons ~ What can you learn from the passage?
Watch the video or check the answers below to compare what you get with what we get from the passage.
Next time, Denise will talk about Deceitful Desires and I'll give more help and another example for the 2nd Step in devotional Bible study--Surfacing the Lessons.
If you are stuck, reply to this email and ask a question.
Skill Time: Fill ins
Lessons that can be learned from the Facts
Skill Time: Bible Passage (Your list can be different and shorter. More are presented here to help you get the idea.)
He is talking about the Lord
He is saying the Lord is my strength
He is also saying the Lord is my shield
What is strong about me is that I am connected to the Lord