|Hungry for God's Word|
Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.
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What does it mean to “eat” God’s Word? What would you describe as a “well-balanced meal” of the Scriptures?
Eager and growing
Jeremiah’s is the heart cry of every person in whom the Spirit of God has come to dwell. The first and most essential evidence that the Spirit of God dwells in us is an insatiable hunger for the Word of God. We can know that we have the Spirit if we experience a growing desire to know and obey the Holy Scriptures of God. For where the Spirit comes to dwell, He comes to feed us with God’s Truth. He is the Spirit of Truth (Jn. 14:26), the Author of Scripture (2 Pet. 1:21), and the one Person of the Trinity Who can guide us into all Truth (Jn. 16:13). He will teach us all the things which Jesus Christ has spoken in His Word (Jn. 14:26) by comparing Scripture with Scripture to bring to light the eternal and life-changing truths of God (1 Cor. 2:12, 13). The Spirit of God is thus, in the first instance, the Teacher Whom God has sent to build us up in the Truth. If we have the Spirit dwelling in us, we will be eager and growing students in His classroom, hungering like Jeremiah for more of the Word and Truth of God every day.
Look up all the Scriptures cited in this paragraph. In what ways do you experience this “teaching” work of the Holy Spirit?
But how can we know when the Spirit is actually teaching us? What are the effects of His instruction in our lives? First, let’s agree that it will be difficult for the Spirit to teach us the things of the Lord if we are indifferent or merely casual about sitting at His feet. Daily time in God’s Word is required if we are to learn from the Spirit of God. If you lack enthusiasm for such a commitment, pray to the Lord, Who is at work within you by His Spirit, to make you willing and able to devote more time and attention to reading and studying the Scriptures (Phil. 2:12, 13). He will show you how to make the time and what approach to Scripture reading and study works best for you. Anyone who has the Spirit of Christ will find a way to “get to class” and to listen carefully as the Spirit teaches us the things of God.
How would you describe the time you spend reading and studying God’s Word? Is it sufficient? What do you do?
We can know that we are learning from God’s Spirit in two ways: when we have the sense of being in the presence of God and His glory (2 Cor. 3:12-18), and when we experience conviction such that we take seriously the work of changing our lives (Jn. 16:8-11). Paul taught that, when we are studying the Scriptures, as the Spirit is present with us and we are waiting on Him to teach us (Ps. 139:23, 24; 1 Cor. 2:12, 13), we will begin to be aware of a kind of “heavy” spiritual presence, making itself known to our minds and hearts. We will discover ourselves in the very presence of God Himself, as He speaks to us from His Word. The effect of this will be to heighten our joy in reading and to make us more attentive to the passage we’re considering.
What does it mean to “be in the presence of God and His glory”? Do you experience this?
How do you know when the Spirit is convicting you of something?
Then, as we continue to meditate and reflect in the presence of the Lord, the Spirit will begin to convict us of things that need to happen in our lives. He will convict us of sin, showing us by God’s Law and Word whatever is out of line in our lives, or any temptations that we might expect. We will become more sensitive to sin and temptation and more inclined to resist the devil. Second, the Spirit convicts us of righteousness. Not only does He warn us and tell us of what is wrong, He points the way to what is pleasing to God and illumines the path He wants us to walk, in terms specific to our own unique circumstances. Finally, He convicts us of judgment, which is kind of gentle reminder that God takes seriously His call to obedience, and we must as well.
You can know that you have the Spirit of God when you hunger for God’s Word and He feeds you by His Spirit, for a life of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Kingdom of God.
Why does it make sense to believe that, if we really have the Spirit of God, we will hunger for God’s Word? And if we don’t?
How do you think Christians can encourage one another to grow in hunger for God’s Word? Is there anyone in your life encouraging you this way?
How would you like to see your time in God’s Word improve? What steps will you take? Who will encourage you and hold you accountable? How?
Start your own ViewPoint discussion group. This week’s series is available in a free downloadable format, suitable for personal or group study. Download the series, "VP Effects of the Spirit".
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.