What Does God Want Me to Obey – Making SMART Applications in Bible Study

What can I obey from the passage?

This is one of the most important questions you can ever ask after studying the Bible, but sadly it often doesn’t get asked at all.

Much of modern day church life is very passive. People go to church. They sit. They listen. They think “that was a good sermon.” And then they chat for a few minutes and go home. Do they really remember the sermon? And even more, do they follow what they learned?

Here is a little experiment for you. Next time after church ask people, “what do you think of the sermon?” And then ask them, “what can you obey from what you learned today?” Notice the responses you get. Do people remember what they learned? Do they feel awkward when they are asked about how they will apply it? These questions and discussions should be normal, a fabric of who we are and what we talk about together as believers.

I have asked these questions of many people, and sadly I often get very vague responses. Sometimes within minutes of the sermon, church goers cannot remember what it was really about!

And we are all guilty of this. Sometimes we are absent minded and don’t pay much attention. Sometimes we are listening, but instead of trying to learn with a humble heart we are looking for points to disagree with or criticize.

The same could be true of small group Bible studies. Emphasis is often placed on learning facts, delving into history, and expanding our doctrinal knowledge. But building up knowledge without life change is not beneficial and only means we will be held to a stricter standard of accountability when we face God!

James 1:22-25 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

This is one of our key verses here at Study and Obey. God calls us to be “doers of the word and not hearers only.” That means that whenever you study the Bible (in church, in Bible study, or in personal devotions) you should always ask yourself the question, “what should I obey?”

The Bible has only one correct interpretation, one meaning. But it has unlimited potential applications. However, not all applications are equal. Some are unrealistic. Others are too vague.

You should practice making SMART applications.

S is for SPECIFIC – Your application should not be too general. Saying, “I will love others is too general.” Saying, “I will love my wife” is better, but still too general. Saying, “I will love my wife by cooking her a special meal” is specific. When making applications, be specific.

M is for MEASURABLE – Is your application something you can measure? Will be you be definitely say whether or not you completed it successfully? This is tied closely together with being specific. It is very hard to measure “I will love others.” It is very easy to measure “I will love my wife by cooking her a specific meal.” When making applications, make sure you can measure them.

A is for ACHIEVABLE – You should make sure that your application is realistic. “I will get up at 4 AM every morning this week to pray for two hours” is an awesome goal. But can you really achieve that? In other words, do not shoot for the moon at the beginning. Set reasonable, short-term goals. Once you achieve those, you can go higher.

R is for RELEVANT – Your application should be relevant to the Bible passage you are studying, whether in church, Bible study, or personal devotions. The application should come out of the text. R is not for Random. For example, you are studying the parable of the sower, about spreading the gospel seed. And you make an application to get up early and read the Bible. That is an awesome thing to do, but is it relevant to the passage? Relevant applications may include: praying for the lost, sharing the gospel with a friend, or supporting a missionary.

T is for TIME-BOUND – When will complete your application? It should have a time limit or it may never get done. In the example above, “I will love my wife by cooking her a special meal” to make it time-bound you should add when you will do this. Church and Bible studies often meet weekly so often the best amount of time is one week. But for your personal devotions you may consider making an application for that day.

So start getting into the habit of asking yourself, “what should I obey?” And then make a SMART application. You will be amazed as God changes your life little by little!

Philippians 1:6 – And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

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