How to Study God's Word // Kick-off
You’re standing at the edge of the diving board about to jump in.
In that moment, you know you’re going to jump, you have to!
You want to jump, you really do!
You can’t wait to be in the water.
Then there’s that second of hesitation when you have to decide how you’re going to jump.
Will you dive in with olympic style?
Belly flop for a good laugh?
Will you make a statement with a canon ball?
Or a graceful pencil dip in?
You’re lost in thought then someone on a poolside lounge chair (who might be slightly annoyed with your hesitation) yells, “JUST JUMP!”
Startled, you lose your footing and flop into the water. It was messy, not graceful at all, you experienced some confusion along the way but you did it! You’re in the water and you realize how silly you were to hesitate.
That’s how studying the Bible on your own can seem. We get so overwhelmed with the varying processes, options, and styles. Sometimes we are paralyzed. What's worse is sometimes we are so paralyzed that we decide it "must not be for me" and we back away completely. We walk back down the ladder because we couldn’t decide how to jump, when what really matters most is that we JUMP IN!
As we journey together over the next few months and learn different strategies and tools for studying your bible, I also want to be your cheerleader who’s already in the water that says, “Just jump! You’ll be so glad you did!”
Use the tools that I share along the way, read the supplemental texts that I suggest, follow along to learn new how-to’s but don’t ever just watch me from the top of the diving board. My desire for you, and even more importantly, God’s desire is for you to be in the “waters” of His text, experiencing His presence more than you ever have before!
So before I present you with a “method” that I love and I’m excited to walk through with you, this is me shouting “JUST JUMP!”
I study the Bible using a systematic approach. Before you peak at the document and freak out or get overwhelmed by the "big word", let me go ahead and clarify that I don’t complete this entire method every single time that I sit down to read the Bible. If it’s a larger chunk of scripture, I honestly don’t even complete it in a week most of the time. This is NOT my daily routine for a quiet time. Systematic just means done according to a method. When I sit down to study the Bible and I want to grow in my understanding of Who God says He is through His word, these are the things I do. It’s not anything new or ground breaking but over the past several years as I have learned, studied, and taught, I’ve compiled my favorite and most helpful tools and strategies to share with you.
Let me also be clear and say that these are not the only ways to study the Bible. There are a lot of variations and methods for growing in your understanding of the Bible. Is there a wrong way to study the Bible? Uh. Yea. Going back to the diving board analogy, it doesn’t matter if you dive or cannonball off the board but it does matter that you aim for the water right?! (ouch!) Yea… There are plenty of false teachers out there, taking scripture out of context, distorting the truth, and wrongly interpreting, applying and teaching the Word of God. We shouldn’t be surprised by this, Paul warns us in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, but we should absolutely be diligent in our own study so that we are able to discern the false teachings and not be led astray (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Instead of spending any time discussing the wrong ways of studying the Bible, I’d love to just direct you to these posts to help prepare your heart.
Feel free to click the graphic and download the PDF, there is also a less colorful version of the same PDF available for download on the resources page for easy printing if you’re a paper and pencil kind of learner like I am!
Speaking of how I am, I am prone to forgetting that this study is NOT simply academic. There is no denying I am a book nerd, a huge fan of the Bible, and learning the stories. I have to keep at the forefront of my mind that this study of the Bible is spiritual and requires the presence of God and His Holy Spirit in me to be done correctly. One way that I practically remind myself of this is praying before I study, while I study, and when I finish.
Praying before I study helps remind me that I am completely incapable of pursuing God in my own power, it is only through His faithful pursuit of me that I am able to know Him in any capacity. It helps me to stay humble and gives me confidence in Whose I am at the same time. Praying while I am studying helps me to keep from getting frustrated with my own lack of knowledge, it also helps me from getting distracted and reminds me that God longs to be with me in these moments. Praying/listening after I’ve wrapped up some studying helps me to still all of my “me-centered” thoughts swirling around in my mind and helps me to hear His voice and keeps me from missing what He would have me learn from His word.
A big-picture look at Systematic Bible Study:
Comprehend the text. What does it say?
Interpret the meaning of the text. What does it mean?
Apply. How should this change me?
Over the next few Blog posts, we’ll be walking through this method together and practicing these strategies hand in hand with the book of Colossians! Feel free to “JUMP IN” and try things out on your own, share with a friend, gather a group together and never hesitate to reach out with a question. I’d love to hear from you throughout the journey!
Since this is an intro post, the first resource tutorial & "homework assignment" was also posted this week. (You can find it here!) Be sure to follow Equipping Arrows on Facebook & Instagram for more interactive content, encouragement, & accountability.