No doubt, God’s revelation to us through His Word has changed your life and mine in the most significant of ways.
As I grow in the knowledge of God, it becomes even more evident that no amount of Scripture study can possibly lead to fullness of understanding. That said, God commands us to know and love His Word!
We must be faithful stewards of the Word of God.
Amongst other things, this means:
- Study to show thyself approved (2 Timothy 2:15).
- Delight in the law of God (Romans 7:22).
- Keep the commandments of God (John 14:15).
Then, we must be careful not to allow our Bible reading to become stagnant.
You just can’t read the Bible once and call it quits.
If we want to have the right relationship with God and with others, we must submit to the Word of God and become doers as well as hearers (James 1:22).
With these things in mind, I have made a list of five ideas that can help us take our Bible study to the next level, and I have done so with myself in mind. I have only personally done two of these, and plan to challenge myself to do the other three.
Become an Early Riser
Studies have shown that in most people, our brains are the freshest in the very early morning.
Couple that with the fact that most of us “normal” people have a day job, and it becomes increasingly harder to find time to study God’s Word.
Between my day job, college, this blog, my family, church commitments, and my small business, I have what one might call a “full plate.” I have a responsibility to God and others to show up and be the best I can be in all of those areas, and somehow, I must still find time for Bible Study!
“Come on God, do I have to?” Wrong attitude. Easy answer.
YES! We must! In order to grow in the knowledge and things of God, we MUST study His Word. But not only must we, we should want to do it. And I do. I’m sure you do too.
So, in light of your busy schedule, why not take care of your Bible study first thing in the morning?
Not only will you be more likely to retain what you have read, but you will be starting your day with the precious promises that God has given us.
Remember, Christianity is not a coat we hang up at the door when we get home or get to our place of business. The Holy Spirit lives within us! This means that there is no escaping His influence on our lives, but the guiding of the Spirit NEVER takes the place of Bible study, and certainly never contradicts what you find on the pages of God’s Word.
When time seems like it is getting the best of you, why not try an early AM Bible study? It might be the
best second best decision you’ve made concerning your walk with Christ.
Handwrite Portions of Scripture
This is one I am very eager to try. The only reason I haven’t is that my handwriting is so terrible!
But, you’re not necessarily doing it for the purpose of reading it later. Rather, it is a practice that is helpful for committing things to memory and gaining a more thorough understanding of the Text.
As I’ve heard one pastor recommend, you might start out by simply copying one whole book of the Bible.
You might start with a short book, to be sure. And I could be proven wrong, but I’m not sure how helpful this practice would be just picking verses arbitrarily.
Next time you are committing a large portion of Scripture to memory, why not giving handwriting a shot?
I think you will be surprised at how much easier it is to recall what you have studied.
I could see copying a few chapters each day as part of your early morning study routine, then throughout the day, calling back to memory some of what you have written.
Perhaps this could be done in conjunction with another party to keep you accountable? More on that later.
Use a Multi-Pronged Approach
I have personally been doing this for quite some time, and have found to be extremely helpful at approaching Bible study as an integral part of my daily experience.
Right now, there are four main ways I engage with the Bible during different times of personal study:
- In-depth study. This involves using the Scripture references, notes, index, etc. in my Scofield Reference Bible to discover the Bible’s entire commentary on a particular subject. Also, I will reference other commentaries, lexicons, etc. to attain a fuller understanding.
- Broad listening. Each morning, I listen to between 4-6 chapters a day, straight through from Genesis-Revelation. I do this using a KJV Bible podcast, listening at double speed. This is a GREAT way to move quickly through the Scriptures to see God’s overall revelation.
- Thru the Bible. Also on a podcast, I listen to J. Vernon McGee’s Thru the Bible radio program. This is also done on double speed, sometimes faster (he is a VERY slow talker). We are not in total agreement on many things, but as a whole, he is a wonderful Bible teacher and his exposition of Scriptures is incredible. He makes it a point to bring in lots of historical and cultural context, which is perhaps my favorite thing about it.
- Preparing for preaching/writing. As I preach or teach on different occasions or prepare to write a blog post, I will spend some time studying that specific subject matter in the Scriptures. This is the least broad because I am intentionally limiting myself to what the Scriptures say on the matter at hand, but some of the most informative for the same reason!
This methodology has been most helpful for me. It gives me a well-rounded approach to Scripture study and helps me to keep from getting stuck in a rut.
An example would be that I used to ALWAYS get stuck trying to make it through Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy (for the same reasons most people do). But after listening to McGee’s program, I can NEVER read them the same way again!
You will find that one area of study will help to shed light on the other areas over time, making for a well-rounded Bible education. I did not mention my time interfacing with the Bible during my college studies because not all are in that situation. But, that is a consideration as well for those still in Bible college.
Form a Small Bible Study Group
A quick disclaimer: study groups are wonderful, but should NEVER take the place of personal study time. God gave His Word to you personally and wants you to engage with it one-on-one to discover what He has for you.
That said, forming a Bible study group can certainly take your Bible study to that next level.
Here, you will benefit from seeing various perspectives on a matter. So in reading a portion of the Scriptures, rather than consulting commentaries, etc., you will confer with others directly about the meaning of the text.
Here is something, however, that you mustn’t ever neglect: No matter what you or anyone else interpret the Bible to be saying, it is only saying one thing!
If you are a young (new) Christian, I would suggest that you limit the membership of your study group to like-minded believers. This isn’t a bad idea for anyone! This will help you to firmly plant your feet in the doctrines of the Bible.
However, if desired, some “veteran” Christians may desire to hear varying perspectives on the matter in order to learn how to interface with those different perspectives when witnessing, etc.
An example might be that I, as an Independent Baptist, reject both Reformed Theology and Arminianism. I have done the research, and have firmly planted my feet in the ground of Molinism–or, divine middle knowledge (many IFB’s might be interested to know that although we don’t tend to give it a name, our beliefs are consistent with Molinism).
Although I disagree with these other perspectives, a Bible study with these varying perspectives would be engaging, to say the very least! Remember, “the truth is not afraid of questions.” I don’t mind fellowshipping with someone who disagrees, but accepting their doctrine is another story.
No doubt, group Bible study is a practice that can either be detrimental or indisposable to your faith, so while it must be conducted with discernment, it might be just what you need to kickstart a stagnant Bible study routine.
Pray the Scriptures
This is a practice that, while I’m sure is nothing new, I had not heard of until recently.
There are many prayers recorded throughout the Word of God, and many portions of Scripture that could be prayed and recited as such.
This should not be confused with a sort of liturgy; rather, it is simply a deeply intimate way to pray to God and interface with Scripture at the same time.
I think of this as not much different than singing some of the wonderful Hymns that are essentially Bible verses placed over a pleasant tune or preaching an all-Scripture sermon.
My advice is quite limited in this area as I have never done it, but from what I hear, this can definitely add something special to your study time.
Before the end of the year, I would like to try this a few times and see how it goes. It is definitely outside of something I would normally do, which makes it both exciting and intimidating. Have you tried this? Let me know how it went in the comments!
Hopefully, this post has been helpful in providing some new ideas for your personal Bible study time.
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