Another thing Noel Mayes used to do when teaching Ephesians, that is both exceptionally wise and crucial for you and me to remember: he used to begin his class by saying, "the fact is, I CAN'T TEACH YOU THESE THINGS. These are truths that can ONLY be taught by the Spirit of God."
I'm going to do my best, in dependence on Him, to share some things I believe the Spirit has taught, and is teaching me on this subject. But it's crucial that we realize any real and enduring learning will ONLY take place in hearts connected with His, in fellowship with and in trusting, humble reliance upon His Spirit (I Cor. 2:9-15).
That, by the way, in no way eliminates time and effort on our part! In fact, it only makes it all the more imperative! These things are hardly the natural and "normal" way our minds would work; they are counter-intuitive; they fly right in the face of the "natural." The Bible, itself, promises they will (Isaiah 55:8-9; I Cor. 2:14-15)!
And so, because time and effort is required, there MUST be genuine DESIRE (roughly the English equivalent for the wonderful Spanish expression, GANAS). Another very wise friend, Miles J. Stanford, used to insist these truths come to "none but the HUNGRY HEART." You've got to want it.
Have we ever desired ANYTHING in our lives to the degree these young Olympic athletes desire that gold??? Have you watched, as we have, the PARENTS of the girl gymnasts in the stands, as their daughters performed on the mats before a watching world?
Man, THAT is what I call "ganas." You think of what these young ladies have sacrificed, and all the many, many hours of grueling training; and it fills you with admiration, and a sense of pride and exhilaration for them.
Personally, I don't think it's worth it. I am captivated watching it, and I cheer and admire, but I honestly think they're wasting SO much time. Paul said it, centuries ago: "Now, they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible." (I Cor. 9:25).
I DO think there's something in life that is worth that kind of dedication, but it ain't Olympic gold. I just have to wonder how so many can get SO fired up about things so transient and temporal, and, at the same time, as a fellow teacher once put it, "it's like pulling teeth" to get Christians to study God's Word.
So, again, I must emphasize it will cost you in terms of time and effort:
1. Reading passages over and over again
2. Praying for the Spirit's ILLUMINATION (Psalm 119:18)
3. Scriptural MEDITATION.
This last one -- SO very important. Many refer to it as "a lost art" among modern Christians.
It's been said that meditation is to Bible study what digestion is to physical nourishment. You can spend top dollar to get the very best and freshest organic produce, but if you're not properly DIGESTING your food, you may as well buy Purina Puppy Chow -- it won't do you much good.
Sorry, must close for now; got preachy, and ended up using up my time on the Olympics illustration. Need to take my dear, recuperating, footsore bride out for some fresh air and sunshine.
More later, Lord willing. Thanks for your patience.