2006-07-12 - Summer Questions
2006 #7 ~ Bible Study
Hebrews 4:12, "For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
Today's question: "I do faithfully read some part of my bible every evening. I love the story y it tells, but how can I get more out of it as a study. How do you study the word? What I usually do is just turn to a chapter and read some of it, but then with to another chapter. I really want to get more out of readings at night?"
This is a great question because of the practical and useful nature of it. There are numerous daily Bible-reading guides available online. Just use a search engine like Google, Yahoo, or Dogpile, and you will get a lot to choose from. They can generally be printed out, but in addition to that, your local Christian bookstore might offer some daily reading guides. Lastly, many Bibles themselves contain guides to get the reader through the Bible in a year.
No matter how we read the Bible, it is good to have some organization to our approach. I would start in the Old Testament with the Psalms, and in the New Testament with the book of John, and then simply keep going - using a bookmark (Reading a chapter a day in each is, at most, a ten-minute commitment). The sequential reading of Scripture will avoid the randomness of picking a chapter here and there, without any system or context.
The heart of your question respects how to go about studying the Bible, and there are several things we can do to become students of the Word. One is to join a Bible study offered by your local church. This could be in someone's home one evening a week, or even a study that the church offers as a Sunday School class. If nothing like that is available to you, there are still ways to study the Bible on your own. Acquire a study booklet from a publishing company like IVPress, Evangelical Press, or any number of places, that has a "question and answer" format. It will help you dig into the text. It will also serve as a helpful guide. The Lets Study series from Evangelical Press is excellent. Again, your local Christian bookstore, or any number of Christian book distributors online, can help you get started with these.
Another way to get into God's Word and study it is to begin to memorize some verses. As you are reading, simply jot down a verse (and reference) that you find meaningful on a 3X5 card, and memorize it. It really isn't that hard to memorize a verse. Keeping it memorized can become the challenge. This becomes harder and harder, as you continue to add verses. In time, if you really start to hide God's Word in your heart, you will probably find you spend more time reviewing old verses that you have already memorized, than leaning new verses. This is one way to really get a grip on what the Bible teaches.
If you lack motivation or discipline, pull a friend alongside, and get them to memorize a verse a week with you. It will be good for both of you, and will establish accountability. It also might help guide or influence your interaction with each other. Imagine how our conversations would change with each other, if we started by talking about the verses we are memorizing together.
It is very easy to get distracted by our busy schedules, and to find ourselves neglecting God's Word. Your desire and present practice of setting aside some time each day to read God's Word is half the battle to being a student of the Bible. I want to encourage you in this. Neglect of studying Scripture and prayer are often the first signs of backsliding from the faith. The things I have mentioned above are just general guides and ideas. There is no perfect way to study the Bible, but rather, we each should look to develop our own systems of study that fit into our lives and help motivate us to make the study of Scripture a daily part of our lives. Thank you for your question. I am sure it is something many others also think about.
Soli Deo Gloria,