In last week’s article we spent our time looking at the Scriptural reasons for improving our Bible study. This week, let us look at five practical ways of doing just that.
- Set a specific time of day to study. This can be hard because there are a lot of things to take into consideration. For instance, time when you are not tired and you don’t have to worry about children is ideal. If necessary, ask your husband for help! You cannot be the type of wife and mother that God desires that you be if you are not growing Spiritually. How can you bring your children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord if you aren’t growing yourself first? There is nothing wrong with asking your husband to watch the kids for 30 minutes or an hour to let you spend some private time with God’s Word. (I have been known to take my Bible into a bubble bath and lock the door!)
Even without kids at home, however, life is busy! It is hard to make time for something every single day without forgetting, even if you have the best intentions. My husband and I have learned that setting an alarm works well! We have taken a leaf out of Glenn and Cindy Colley’s book “You’re Singing My Song” (actually, their marriage seminar) and we do the same thing with our family Bible studies. My husband has an alarm set on his phone for 9 p.m. every day. When that alarm goes off, whether we are at home, in the car, at a ball game, or at a restaurant, the kids know it is Bible study time, and nothing else happens until we have spent time as a family in God’s Word. What a difference it has made for our family!
- Quality over quantity. It is easy to fall into the trap of “speed reading” a few verses to keep our daily Bible reader status. Unfortunately, “reading” the Bible does nothing to improve my spirituality. God’s Word does nothing for us until we take it out of our heads and put it into our hearts. There may be times that you can study, glean from, and comprehend, several chapters in 30 minutes to an hour. There may also be times you spend the entire time on 1-2 verses! God’s Word is rich and deep. Some verses contain more meat than others, and some passages may be more applicable to you at a certain point in your life than others. Take your time and make sure you are understanding what God is saying to you as you study His Word. If you missed them, there have been some excellent articles on exegesis (how to study the Bible) and hermeneutics (how to understand the Bible) on Come Fill Your Cup that could really benefit you this year as you work at being a better student of God’s Word in 2011.
- ALWAYS ask yourself how what you are studying specifically applies to you. It doesn’t matter whether you are studying the Old Testament or New Testament, a prophecy or a command, there is always something specific that you can glean from any given Scripture. It may be a specific command that you need to follow such as in Acts 2:38, or simply an example of what NOT to do (as with the Jews wandering in the desert). Somehow, there is a way you can learn and grow from every passage (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It does not say that most Scripture is profitable, or that the most well-known Scriptures are profitable, it says that ALL Scripture is God-breathed and will help us. That simply means that it is up to us to study those Scriptures in such a way that we will understand what God wants us to learn from it.
- Learn the Word! If God’s Word is embedded in our heart to the point we can quote it, what a difference that would make! Although I can find any Scripture I need fairly quickly, memorization is not my strong suit. If we really wish to follow the example of Christ, I think it’s a skill we need to learn. When Jesus was tempted in the desert, He did not have to say, “Hang on a sec Satan, I know it’s there let me find it….” He was ready immediately to give his defense (1 Peter 3:15). So often in the brotherhood I am afraid that we look at things that are daunting or hard and say, “Oh, I am just not good at that” and let that be our excuse not to do it! From this point on, I resolve—and I pray that you resolve—to approach daunting activities in our road to Spiritual growth with an attitude of, “Lord, help me try harder.”
- Don’t skip over the hard stuff! Remember that God, in His infinite wisdom, is trying to communicate with our simple, finite minds. Because of this, there are times that the Bible is just hard. However, where there is a will there is a way! You can try breaking down the passage, expanding the context, looking at other books by that writer, or doing a word study from the passage you are working on. If you are still stumped, ask other, sound brethren to study it with you, or go to a concordance or other resource. There are many fabulous resources available through Focus Press and Apologetics Press. Just remember when using a source other than Scripture that all men have fallen, and all men are fallible.
God bless you as you strive to improve your study of His word!