What competes for your personal Bible study time? Do you seek to guard the time you give to the personal study of your Bible? Whether you have 15 minutes or two hours, how can you make the most of the time you have to read and study?
Jen Wilkin states, “It can be tempting to want our personal study time to fill our emotional tank for the day. We may rush to find an application point we can act on in whatever time we have. This may mean we limit our time in the Word to devotional reading—meditating on a passage and looking for a way to put it to immediate use. Devotional reading is beneficial, but it is not foundational, and its benefit actually increases exponentially as we grow in our foundational understanding of the Bible. So we must be sure to study the Bible with our minds, as well as with our hearts.”
With the time allotted to you each day, how can you seek to build a basic knowledge of Scripture? Here are nine suggestions.
1. Take a Long-term View
View your Bible reading as a savings account rather than a debit card. It’s about hiding His Word in our hearts, not regurgitating it back out.
Psalm 119:11 (HCSB)
11 I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You.
The study of God’s Word is never wasted. Trust the Holy Spirit to bring His Word back to your forefront.
Luke 12:11-12 (HCSB)
11 Whenever they bring you before synagogues and rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how you should defend yourselves or what you should say.
12 For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what must be said.”
2. Stay Put
Don’t skip around, learn the context. Choose a book, and read it all the way through.
Jen Wilkin states, “Reading a book of the Bible from start to finish helps us connect the dots in our Bible knowledge and generate a cohesive understanding of the text.”
3. Honor The Context
Answer the following questions before beginning to read a book of the Bible: Who wrote it? When was it written and to whom? What is the theme and purpose? What is the historical and cultural context? You can find the answer to these questions from a good study Bible, and I would recommend the ESV Study Bible.
4. Understand Genre (Kind)
Jen Wilkin states, “The Bible is comprised of many different literary genres. It contains historical narrative, poetry, prophecy, wisdom literature and more. Each of these genres abides by certain rules. Each uses language and imagery in a certain way. We cannot read the Psalms the same way we read the Gospels, nor can we read prophecy the way we read wisdom literature.”
5. Use The Right Tools
Read until you know what the text says. Look up what words mean. Use online sources like Preceptaustin.org. Check for cross-references see (openbible.info/labs/cross-references/). For help in finding a good commentary go to: danielakin.com/building-a-theological-library-2013-update/.
6. Dwell in The “I Don’t Know”
Jen Wilkin states, “Until we feel the extent of what we do not know, we won’t push ourselves to pursue knowledge.”
This is so true. Don’t be so quick to gloss over the Word. Chew on it. Seek to find answers to the text that leaves you asking questions. However, spend some time studying it on your own before seeking help from other sources.
7. Study The Whole
Is the OT more intimidating to you than the NT? Remember, all of it is God’s Word.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (HCSB)
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Without the OT, we would never be able to fully understand the NT. Hebrews wouldn’t be as weighty without Leviticus.
8. The Bible is not about Us
The Bible is about the character and work of God. The Bible was written for a community, not an individual. In the OT, it was Israel. In the NT, it was the church.
You will grow as an individual as you learn to see your own character in relation to God’s magnificent glory. Time in the Word will show you the bigness of God and the smallness of man (Isa. 40:28-31). Ask the following as you read the Bible: How does this text bring out the bigness of God? What does this passage teach me about the redeeming work of God? How does seeing God in this text lead to Christ-centered application?
· Insights Gleaned—What is God saying to me?—What is the Bible teaching me?
· Put Off—How have I failed to live by God’s Truth?
· Put On—What changes do I need to make?—How is He calling me to walk in His Grace?
· My Plan for Change—How will I make these changes? What is my specific plan? What does change look like for this DAY ONLY?
Cry out for God’s wisdom. Pray before the following before you begin your Bible study:
Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things in Your Word (Ps. 119:18). Touch me with Your salve that I may see (Rev. 3:18). Enlighten the eyes of my heart (Eph. 1:18).
God always answers those desiring to be more like Him.
3 You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires.