Adulting 101: 3 Ways to Study the Bible, Not Just Read It
One big topic that we consistently hear our community talking about is the struggle with how to study the Bible more in depth. It's tempting to just "read and go" as we play our audio Bibles while we're getting ready for the day, or quickly skim over verses with a bowl of cereal. How can we make the most of our time in the Word, and what does that even look like? Our guest writer Melanie shares some ways you can get more in depth with the Scriptures for this week's Adulting topic!
"Sometimes I pick up my Bible and have no idea where or what to read. Other times, I have no motivation and use the excuse that I 'don't have time.' How can I start to study the Bible more intentionally? -Anony[miss]
The Bible. The wonderful work by God, created to know God better.
So why is something that is so incredibly wonderful often so hard understand? My first thoughts when it comes to hunkering down and taking in these 66 books of wisdom is that there is in fact a difference between reading the Bible and studying the Bible.
Let’s look at your free reading. Say you are reading your favorite fictional tale with great character development, a suspenseful plot, and hey, a little bit of romance. The reality is, we often read right through not stopping to highlight or underline, making notecards to better understand, or looking up the historical context of the storyline. We just want to read to the end because we have to see what happens next!
This is one of my favorite parts about the word of God, because there is a handful of suspenseful plots, character development, and a remarkable love story. Not only that, but this book calls us to have a pen and highlighter in hand, whip out our notecards, and take the time to study the intention behind why these words were written.
Reading the Bible alone can often cause us to fall into quick devotionals that do not force us to press in deeper, or can cause us to do a quick glance-over so we can 'say' that we have read. And sometimes there is a self-seeking view of the Word when we look up verses to match what we need to hear to help ourselves. Hear me, reading the Bible is not a waste of time, but it is how we use that time that is the key here.
When you are pressed on time, train your heart and mind to seek Him and His wisdom and turn away from possible self-seeking motives.
Studying the Bible means that we have set apart time to think deeply, take notes, and put our focus on developing a greater understanding of who God is. This can take away the tendency of rushing or putting the focus on ourselves, and instead redirects our worship back to God and the abundant knowledge that is given to us freely.
Studying allows us to examine, ask hard questions, and develop a deeper communication line with God as we get to know Him more.
With all of that said, here are my 3 tips on how to study the Bible:
Create A Highlight Method
When it comes to studying the Bible, it can become overwhelming and confusing very quickly. I have found that creating a form of structure and intentionality can be very helpful in studying. The highlight method is very common in study techniques, and can help to specify what you are reading. Typically, you can start this method by choosing your colors. For me, I chose 5 colors that represent what I am looking for as I am reading the word. Examples of this can be green for God’s promises, red for sin/death, purple for commands/wisdom, etc.
Once you have created your highlight key, you can go into the word and start highlighting the verses that apply. If you have a journaling Bible or journal, you can share in the margins why you have highlighted that portion, what you have learned about God, how this applies to your life now, and how that passage may link to another book or verse in The Bible.
Dive Into History
I do not think that it is any surprise that if we had to choose between reading the Old Testament or the New Testament, many of us would choose the latter. Why? Well, the New Testament is a bit easier to understand and many of us want to be able to read, comprehend, and apply what we have read. The problem with avoiding the Old Testament is that we will miss out on crucial parts about our biblical history. That in fact would make our New Testament reading not only make more sense, but also greatly increase our appreciation for the Bible as a whole.
I encourage you to dive into the books after Genesis and Exodus and get to know the Kings and Judges. Understand the culture where our biblical ancestors called home, deepen your knowledge on the Old Testament law and why it was so difficult for the early church to separate the law from grace. Learn about the Holy Spirit at work in the Old Testament before coming down upon the people in Acts and familiarize yourself with the human nature of people like David, Abraham, Esther, and Job. No longer do these people have to just be a cool Sunday School story, but these people who lived and breathed - you will come to find - are no different than you and me.
Focus On God
When you sit down to read the word, ask yourself this question: In my reading/studying today, how will these words impact and deepen my knowledge of who God is?
Often, we can fall into the trap of going into the Bible to better understand who we are, how it applies to our life, and reading to make ourselves feel better. The focus no longer is on God, but is instead on us. The problem with this is simple:
The Bible is not just a book of guidelines and historical stories, but it exists to deepen our love for God and to develop a rich knowledge of who He is.
It allows us to get to know who God is and understand the standard of His love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, patience, kindness, justice, and so many more characteristics. It is then when we have the opportunity to compare ourselves to His perfect standard and are reminded of how much we are in need of Him. To go in and study who God is and seek Him in the Word will naturally allow us to see who we are, and this should convict us, soften our hearts in humility, guide us to repent, and have us stand in awe of the God who loved us and gave His life for us.
Hebrews 4:12 ESV - For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Thanks to our Delight & Be™ contributor: Melanie Castenada