Editor’s Note: The women of UFC will be studying the book of Malachi together for the next eight weeks. Our study book is organized into seven weeks of study, with three to four days of homework each week. We will have an opportunity to tone our Bible skills as we explore word studies, cross references, and different translations of our Bibles to dive deeper into God’s Word and see what we can unearth for ourselves! Our Bible study small groups will be back in action, giving us time each week to discuss in community what we are learning and to pray for one another. We have missed gathering as a group and would love to see you either Thursday at 9:30 a.m. or 6:30 p.m. for live teaching and small group discussion (with masks and spread out a bit). If the Zoom option works best for you, we will have a 1 p.m. group. And finally, if you’d like to find a friend to do the study with, we’ll supply you with a teaching link and the material for your own at-home group. May we all dive deep into God’s Word and forge deeper relationships with women in our church this spring! Register here.
By Brianna Hines
Welcome to our next series! We will be diving into the book of Malachi together, and I am so excited! Now, you should know, I am not a Bible scholar. Don’t get me wrong! I have loved writing this Bible study on Malachi that we are about to begin, and I am honored that you have chosen to follow my lead as we dive deeper into God’s Word. But I am certainly not an expert! I will even sheepishly admit that I have not yet read the entire Bible. I am currently in the middle of a year-long reading plan, but I have never read all the way through a few books in the Bible. Leviticus, anyone? Nope, I am not a Bible expert.
As I began writing this study, I would often present the trickier passages to my seminary grad husband to interpret for me. He was very patient and would offer me numerous resources to consult, as well as things he had learned himself. However, he was careful not to give me easy answers, even when I begged for them, so I could do the hard work of interpreting the Scripture on my own. On one such occasion, he said to me, “Why don’t you ask God to give you the answer? He is the one who wrote the book after all.”
I sat back a little dumbfounded. It wasn’t that I had never prayed over my writing. I had, but I began praying more often and in a new way. I began asking God to reveal the answers to some of the toughest questions I had with the passages. I began praying for wisdom to know what to write and how to explain the things that He revealed to me. I asked for ideas and other passages in the Bible that would help me understand these. And you know what? God answered me.
The passages I was pouring over became clearer as I followed a trail of Scripture references and root words all the way through His Word. When I asked God for writing ideas and questions to ask, a trickle of thought turned into a stream. I had to be careful when I prayed this prayer. The first few times I made the mistake of asking at 9 p.m. I lay awake in the dark until 3 a.m. with a notepad, trying to empty all the ideas out of my brain, so I could get to sleep. It was only by God’s power and wisdom that I was able to interpret any of Malachi.
The opposite was also true. Some days I would forget to pray over the time I spent working on the study and a pea soup fog of four kids, dirty dishes, unpaid bills, and world news would descend on my brain. I fought to squint through the fog and “bless the world” with my own, amazing, biblical insights and clever questions. I didn’t get far on my own strength and either gave up frustrated or realized my error and humbled myself — yet again — to ask God for His wisdom to interpret His book. God needed to be the first person I consulted — before myself, my husband, or even smart people who have written commentaries.
Each one of us, whether we have read the Bible from cover to cover 100 times or are opening it for the first time this week, has the ability to study and understand the Bible. God’s Word is a gift to us, and He wouldn’t give us a gift we couldn’t open. He didn’t lock up the Word and only give the keys to pastors, seminary grads, or people who have published books. God gives the keys — in the form of the Holy Spirit — to everyone who accepts Jesus. We need only pray and ask God for wisdom, and He will faithfully lead us in our study of His book.
Does this mean we know everything? No. Does this mean we will perfectly understand a passage on our first read through? No. Does this mean we shouldn’t ask for help from wise believers, books, or resources to help interpret the Word? Of course not! May it never be! It does mean, however, that we have the ability right in our own living rooms to dive into God’s Word and study it for ourselves. It is a gift from God, and He is asking us to open it daily, not because He is a glutton for punishment or some strict school teacher glaring at us from the other end of a yardstick. No, He knows how much we need this time in His Word. It’s our instruction manual for life and our love letter from the God of the universe.
So, please don’t let me, or anyone else, lead you to believe that you can’t study the Bible. God has given you everything you need. All He asks is your time. Let’s give Him some time today and in the next few weeks as we study His Word in community with others. Let’s see what He has to teach us! We can do this!