Each week I have the privilege of meeting with a discipleship group. We gather for breakfast at a local restaurant to share what we’ve been reading in the Bible and pray for one another. Our group provides accountability, support and encouragement. Currently, we have six in our group. As we read during the week, we prayerfully look for a Scripture verse that stands out to us. We make note of it, sometimes journaling about it and share it with one another. We are not on a common reading plan.
This week when we met, I just knew I needed to share from John 6. In the first few verses, Jesus fed 5,000 men (maybe 20,000 people with women and children) with five loaves of bread and 2 small fish. After that event, Jesus went to the mountain to pray and walked to his followers on the sea while they were traversing a storm. The verses I shared came from the conversation Jesus had with the crowds on the other side.
27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”
29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” – John 6:27-29
Jesus told the crowds to work for the food that leads to eternal life. You can anticipate the question of the crowds, “What must we do to work for eternal life?” I love Jesus’ response, “Believe on the One God sent!” Jesus does not tell us to work for eternal life. He tells us to believe for eternal life. The foundation of our Christian experience is belief in Jesus Christ. Belief is also the most important aspect of growing in Christian maturity. Anyway, I shared these verses during our meeting this week.
As soon as I finished, one of our group members, Lee Bentley, said, “You’re not going to believe this, but the verse I felt led to share is:
29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” – John 6:29
It was as if God YELLED at us this morning. We need to believe in Christ and trust in his provision for our Christian walk. Not every group meeting results in such a providential development, but this morning was tremendously encouraging. It was also the first meeting for two new members so the experience was greatly encouraging.
The importance of reading God’s Word cannot be overstated. Here’s an excerpt from my new book Commissioned, that highlights the importance of reading God’s Word:
In his book The Shape of Faith to Come, Brad Waggoner reflected on the importance of Bible reading for Christian maturity,
Our study of churchgoers included the measurement of more than sixty factors characteristic of biblical spiritual development… Our statistician applied sophisticated procedures to our data to produce a rank-ordered list of correlations. The number one factor, or characteristic, most correlated to the highest maturity scores is the practice of “reading the Bible.” I almost had to laugh when I saw this. Sometimes we complicate things. The simple discipline of reading the Bible has a major impact on Christians.
Essentially, consistent Bible intake leads to spiritual maturity. Nothing is more important to one’s spiritual development than the reading of God’s Word. The reading of the Bible is where group interaction is so vital to the follower of Jesus.
Brad Waggoner, The Shape of Faith to Come (Nashville: B&H, 2008), 68.
Reading God’s Word and sharing it together is vital for our spiritual growth. Let me challenge you.
- If you’re not reading God’s Word daily, start today. Begin in Genesis or Matthew. If you have a smartphone, you can download the ESV Bible app. The app contains regular reading plans that you can choose from.
- If you’re not in a Sunday school class or Discipleship Group, find one. Gathering with other followers of Jesus around God’s Word to learn together is spiritually invigorating.
- If you’re not memorizing God’s Word, then begin now. At Wilkesboro Baptist, we have monthly memory verses. For April, our verse is Isaiah 41:10. Or you can be like one of our most godly ladies and memorize Psalm 46.
By any means necessary, learn from God’s Word this week. Maybe God will use what he’s saying to you to encourage someone else!