The Practical Pursuit of Transformation By God’s Word
It was 19th century evangelist D.L. Moody who first said, “The Bible was not given for our information, but for our transformation.”
The Bible makes the same claim of itself. Paul wrote to Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God…[so] that the man of God may be complete” (1 Timothy 3:16,17 emphasis mine). It is meant to change us from the inside out. And while it is God alone who changes hearts, we are called to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). This transformation comes powerfully and sweetly by his Word.
But how can we actually get the Word into us? How can you and I practically pursue transformation by the Word of God? As a women’s ministry leader and Bible teacher for almost two decades, I want to share three practices that have borne fruit and joy in my walk with Christ and in my observations of others’ journeys as well.
Pastor and author Eugene Peterson popularized the phrase a long obedience in the same direction. This is our pursuit as Christ followers. One day, one act, one decision of obedience at a time. Ingesting a daily dose of Scripture over the long haul is a powerful way to get to know the character and history of our God. And really, there are no shortcuts. It just takes time. I like to follow a five-day-a-week reading plan so that I read the entire Bible once a year. This amounts to about 20-minutes each day. Busy and tired moms of young children might consider listening to the Word, if daily reading feels impossible.
I cannot overstate how effective studying the Word of God with the people of God has been for me. I have experienced exceptional fruit over the last two decades by gathering every week on both Sunday mornings at church, as well as once a week with other women. Group studies allow for consistent accountability (there’s nothing like a small group meeting to motivate you to get your homework done), fellowship, bearing burdens with one another through prayer, and sharpening one another through discussion. Once again, consistency over time is key. As Christ followers, we must not neglect meeting together (Hebrews 10:25) each week and digging deeper with a handful of girlfriends is a joy.
You know how the sayings go: You get what you give. Hard work pays off. Nothing worth having is easy. And these are never truer than when applied to memorizing passages of the Bible. It is a difficult practice, but one that pays off like no other. When I commit portions of Scripture to memory, I marvel at how the words of God come spilling out into my conversations with others and in my prayers to the Lord. My most successful memorization efforts are in a group of three or four other women who memorize along with me. In a group context, whereby we meet each week to rehearse what we’ve memorized so far (out loud, in front of one another, no exceptions), I have memorized entire books of the Bible along with my friends. Even with young kids, even with a full life of work and ministry, by God’s grace, we did it in partnership with one another. It takes perseverance, but I promise it’s worth it.
Here in North America, you and I are crazy rich with opportunities to be in the Bible. Chances are you have several copies of the Bible in your home, there are several churches and Bible studies you could attend this week, and you have several friends you could ask to join you for memorization. Do not waste those resources.
Wield the Word, friend. Steward it for your transformation.
Jen Oshman is a wife and mom to four daughters and has served as a missionary for almost two decades on three continents. She currently resides in Colorado, where she and her husband serve with Pioneers International, and they planted Redemption Parker, an Acts29 church, two years ago. Her passion is leading women into a deeper faith and fostering a biblical worldview. She writes about that at www.jenoshman.com and other ministry websites. Her first book, Enough About Me: Find Lasting Joy in the Age of Self, is forthcoming with Crossway in March 2020.