Thursday, December 5, 2013

How To Study Your Bible

                Through the many years of blogging, writing, and talking about the Bible, I have had many Christians, and non Christians, ask me how I study. Studying the Bible was not something I was raised to do. I was brought up in a very religious home that was based more off tradition than actual faith in Jesus. The Bible that was in our home was “holy” and we were never allowed to actually open it and read it. When I became a Christian, reading the Bible became the most important thing I did each and every day. I would
read, pray and journal what I had read about, but actually digging in and studying I was not quite sure how to do. I joined a Women’s Bible Study at my church and was taught that my Bible is the greatest treasure I have been given. Not only does it teach me how to be a Christian, but it is God’s Word, spoken to me and for me, so that I can come to know Him in a more intimate way.
                So, how do we study the Bible? Some people prefer an actual Bible study. One that has questions you answer and follow along with as the writer gives you their insights. But for me, personally, this never seems to give me the meat of God’s word that I so desperately crave. If my Bible is my greatest treasure, than what I need to be doing is digging into it.  I have no issues with studies that require you to answer questions- they are for a purpose and a reason. But I have found that the studies that involve answering questions lead you the way the person writing the study wants you led, and not always what God wants to speak to you personally. I prefer to dig for myself, and to uncover the nuggets God has waiting for me as I seek Him out personally.
                How do you dig then into the treasures that God has for you? You start with prayer. It is important for us, before we come to God’s Word, to lay before Him our hearts. He knows what is in our hearts and He knows what we need to hear from Him this day. Only He knows what is before us, and only He can prepare us through His Word to face the challenges this day will bring. When I start my study time, or devotion time, (whichever you prefer to call it) I always start with prayer. I lay before my God and King the sins of my heart, the struggles I am facing, the worries and fears that are plaguing me and I begin to praise Him for His unfailing grace and mercy. We study His Word for ourselves, not for the benefit of others.
              
  Secondly, I listen as I pray. Usually what happens is that as I am praying the Lord will speak a scripture verse, or a point He would like to teach me that day. That is usually where He wants to meet me in His word- right where that scripture is found. For instance, yesterday, I blogged about my time with Him and how He spoke to me the issue of my heart and how He wanted to break me down and rid me of the sin that He saw there. It was during that time of prayer and listening that He spoke and showed me where to begin my study time with Him.
                Next, after I have prayed and gotten the direction He wants me to take; I will go and read the chapter or chapters that He has given me. While doing this I underline, circle or highlight every word or phrase that sticks out at me. Those words and phrases that stick out at you while you are reading are the Holy Spirit wanting to speak to you. What happens most is when I try to continue reading or I try to go to a reference verse that is listed He takes me back and tells me to “camp here”. Having a good resource library is also necessary to dig for the treasures the Lord has for you in His word. I use online tools and I have listed these websites at the bottom of this blog. (Feel free to check them out and use them for yourselves.)
                Studying our Bible is something that we have been given the privilege to do. There are thousands and thousands of Christians in the world who would give anything just to have a snippet of God’s word each day. Yet we, in America, take for granted the freedom we have to read, study and spend time with our God who gave so much for us. Studying your bible is not just something we do; it is something we must want to do. It was not easy for me the first few years of being a Christian, trying to study and learn about God. I had an unbelieving husband who thought I was a freak for wanting to spend time with Jesus. But each and every day I made a point to go and spend some time digging in His word, not only for my own sake, but so that I could get to know Him.
                One of my favorite verses of scripture is found in Philippians. Paul is writing about his life before Christ. He tells the Philippians about his life as a Jew, and how all of that means nothing because now all he wants is Jesus. Paul writes, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;” (Philippians 3:7-10) Then Paul speaks his heart, and for me, the whole point of studying our bibles, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,” (Philippians 3:10)

                That is why we study the Bible. That is why we read and pray and seek to know God. So that we too can know Him, know the power of His resurrection in our lives, know the fellowship of His sufferings for the sins of this world, and that we too may be conformed into His image and into the image of His death so that all may know the power and the love of Jesus Christ our Lord. We do not study the Bible to preach to our families, we do not study the Bible to teach others- we study the Bible so that we may know Him, our God, our Savior, and our Lord. If we study the Bible for any other reason, then we are losing out on the greatest treasures we will ever know.
                We must set aside time each day to know God. He wants to reveal Himself to us. He died so that we could have a personal relationship with Him. He is waiting for you. All you have to do is begin. So, where do you begin? I always suggest you start in the book of John. It is a great study, and there are so many treasures to find nestled in the pages of this book. If you prefer to study your bible along with a study, then go and find one. The best way to get to know God personally is to read your bible. When you read, if something jumps off the page, “camp there”, God has something for you- He wants to speak something to you. All we have to do is be willing to listen to what He has to say.
                I pray that you would make a commitment to spend time in His word each day. If you do not have a quiet study time, make one. Make a commitment to be in His Word, digging for the nuggets He has placed there for you. I pray that His Word will become personal to you today and every day. In Jesus Name, amen and amen.
                Resources I use:

               http://www.blueletterbible.org                            http://www.biblegateway.com