Two years ago I got married, become a homeowner, became a dog owner and moved to the south, away from my family and friends for my new husband’s army career.

Those were some big changes. Those were also some big challenges.

I had never really lived that far from my family and friends before. I found myself lonely and missing home and wishing that I could make friends in my new town.

I did what I knew I needed to do, I joined a church and a young married couples small group. My small group  is a huge source of support and encouragement to me.

Fast forward to today, two years later. I am still involved in that small group and also involved in other groups, so many groups that I’ve recently been wondering,

“Am I doing too many bible studies? Is there such a thing?”

“Am I doing too much?”

I know I am not alone in wondering if I am doing too much. Society tells us to be busy and stay busy, and if you aren’t busy you aren’t doing something right. Even more so, as women, we have mistakenly placed our identity and sense of worth on the business of our schedule and our inability to “pencil anything else in” in our daily planners or google calendars.

So while the world wants us to ask ourselves

“Am I doing enough?”  God wants us to ask,  “Am I doing too much?”

Beyond this question, the other question becomes, “What do I want to gain by doing these bible studies?”

That question I can answer: I want a deeper relationship with my Heavenly Father. 

In my quiet time, He led me to the book of Haggai where the people of Jerusalem had been neglected rebuilding the temple and decided to build their own houses instead.

Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it. -Haggai 1:5-6 (NIV)

The people of Jerusalem were never satisfied. They jumped from one thing to the next hoping to feel fulfilled and fell short every time. Something was still missing. 

Sweet friends, there is only one thing that can fulfill us and sustain us.

It is an intimate relationship with Jesus. Light bulb moment! 

I have been looking for answers in all of the wrong places. Somewhere in my mind, I told myself the more bible studies I do, the closer to God I will become. This isn’t true.

Bible studies are no substitution for studying scripture.

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house…” Haggai 1:7-8

So in taking my own advice (studying scripture), I studied this passage further and became curious about the instructions of going into the mountains, getting timber and building the temple. 

“Go up into the mountains…”

What is the significance and the symbolism of going to the mountain? Why didn’t God just say gather wood where you are and start building?

We see in the bible that mountains are significant, as they facilitate being closer to God.

Mount Sinai is where Moses receives the Ten Commandments from God. Mount of Olives is where Jesus goes to pray before his crucifixion. The Sermon on the Mount is where Jesus delivers the Beatitudes and the Lord’s prayer.

Mountains are a place where people go to hear from God and feel His presence. If you have every had an intimate encounter with God while on a mountain you know firsthand how this experience can aid in your spiritual growth.

“bring down timber…”

Timber is used to build. The definition of timber according to Google is ,”wood prepared for use for building or carpentry.” The people of Jerusalem were told to bring down the building blocks needed to build the Lords temple. God didn’t instruct them to gather branches and twigs, but to get sturdy and durable building materials to prepare a solid foundation.

“build my house…”

You want to build a house with solid materials, hence the reason you need timber. You gather the timber and then you immediately use it to build the Temple. Timber does no good if you are simply collecting it and not using it to build. 

Through this scripture, the Lord revealed to me that instead of floating from one bible study to the next hoping that I grow closer to Him, I should:

Get in His presence to hear His word (go up to the mountains) take away solid  truth and wisdom from spending time with Him in His word (bring down timber) live out those truths in my everyday life to grow closer to Him and strengthen my spiritual foundation (build my house)

Sweet friends, I encourage you to spend time with God in the word and take away the truths that allow the word of God to transform you! Bible studies and small groups are great, especially in terms of building strong and healthy communities, but in order to grow closer to God you must also spend time studying the bible.

As for me and the handful of bible studies I am doing, instead of looking at them as the way to grow closer to God, I am looking at them as an opportunity to build community and encourage others. It is through my daily quiet time with God that I am reminded of all of His goodness and faithfulness and it is through the bible studies and small groups that I am able to share the goodness and faithfulness he reveals to me with others.

Praise God!

Mrs. Stephanie Miller

Mrs. Stephanie Miller

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11).