This week, we’ve been talking a lot about the Bible and its importance in our lives. Even if we know how big a difference daily reading the Bible can make in our lives and we desire to know God’s word more, it can seem a bit overwhelming to actually dive into reading the Bible daily. Luckily, these devotions, regardless of whether you have spent the past year with us, have helped to give you some direction as to how to study the Bible. Still, it can be daunting to really dive in to creating this habit that can literally change your life. So, today, we’re going to be talking a little bit about how to study the Bible. For some of you, this will be old stuff that you already know. For others, some of this might be a little new. But, that’s okay! Wherever you are at in your walk with Christ, it’s always important to be intentional about your time with God. So, let’s dive in!
Today, we will talk about one aspect of studying the Bible: What should our daily time with God look like? Before we begin studying the Bible each day, it’s a great idea to pray. Why? During this time, we want to make sure we are coming to our studies with the right attitude to get the most out of it, and we should be sensitive to the Holy Spirit while we are studying. Prayer helps us to keep those things in mind.
Then, we dive into our actual studies. If this is your first time reading the Bible, it may be helpful to you to just mark some interesting passages with a pen or highlighter as you read. If you’ve been doing this for a while, you may ‘code’ your Bible, marking topics that are similar across texts. Even if you don’t do this every time you read the Bible, once you begin reading regularly, you’ll start to see the ways that the different books of the Bible interact with one another. If you see something, it’s a great idea to write it down in your Bible! This is called cross-referencing and can be a great way to go deeper in your Bible study. Plus, think of all the notes and ideas that your Bible can hold if you keep doing this over a long amount of time! Another way to go deeper in your study is to look up the meaning of words using a dictionary. If you are unsure why an author used a certain word, look it up! You may find something really cool about the original Hebrew or Greek words.
After this, it’s a great idea to write down some of what you found in your study in a journal. Writing things down (1) helps you to work through problems in your mind and (2) will help you remember it later on. If you skim through something, it will be hard for you to really write about it. Or if you read something, but are confused with what the author is trying to say, you may be able to work it out in a journal. Then, like you did in the beginning of your study, it’s great to pray again. Remember, you don’t read your Bible just to know more of what it says. That’s important. But, the main reason why we do it is to get closer to God! Bible study without real heart-changing conversations with God can lead us down the same road as the Pharisees.
Whew! That sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Once you’ve done all this, it’s awesome if you can find a group of friends or a mentor to help you work through what you are studying. Have questions? You can ask them about it! Sometimes, it may be hard to find times to sit down and read for 30 minutes, or you may be thinking that you would never journal your insights and prayers. That’s okay too! Listening to your Bible in the car or online can be a great way to learn more about what God is trying to say even if you don’t enjoy reading.
Tomorrow, we are going to look at another aspect of studying the Bible. In the mean time, take a moment to put some of these Bible study tips into practice as we read the context around a verse (2 Tim. 3:16) I mentioned yesterday in 2 Timothy. Read through 2 Timothy 2-4. While you do this, think about the importance of learning what God’s word has to say. Like 2 Tim. 3:15 says, the Bible is “able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Let’s get in the Word! And, if you still feel a little overwhelmed, you can be reminded of what Richard J. Foster writes in his book Celebration of Discipline:
“Study produces joy. Like any novice, we will find it hard work in the beginning. But the greater our proficiency, the greater our joy. Study [of the Bible] is well worth our most serious effort.”
Does your Bible study look different than this? Do you have any other Bible study tips you would like to share? You can share them in the comments below!
(Check out more about Shar’s Bible Journal at http://womenlivingwell.org/2014/09/good-morning-girls-bible-study-journal-amazing/)