Monthly Archives: May 2016

Bible Study Tips

bible-1149924_1280After searching the internet for 30 or 40 minutes, I finally gave up trying to find the perfect Bible study tip sheet for my Sunday School class. There were a lot of good ideas out there, but nothing that fit our needs perfectly. We generally choose a book and go through it one chapter at a time, so I needed something that would fit that format. Anyway, here’s what I came up with. If you have similar needs, perhaps it will be useful to you!

Here is a link to download the pdf, along with the complete text below.

BibleStudyIdeas

Who: Look at the beginning and ending of the book. Is it apparent who is speaking and who is being spoken to? If not, see if you can find out by looking in a reference book or getting online.

 

What: Read the whole first chapter. Is it easy to tell what’s going on? If not, you may have to read the entire book first or look up a summary of the book.

 

Where & When: Can you tell when and where the book was written?

 

Why: Why is the writer of the book speaking to his audience? Again, you may have to do a little digging for the answers.

 

You may want to spend the entire first week finding out the answers to these first few questions, before beginning with chapter one. If you decide to use outside sources for your information, and by that I mean anything other than the Bible, be sure you don’t just accept the first thing you read as truth. Check to see if the facts are widely agreed upon by Christians and if they can be supported. (Even then, be wary. Satan has his own agenda, and it is sometimes hard to discern.)

 

Chapter by Chapter:

 

After satisfying your curiosity about the previous five questions, you will have a good foundation for understanding the individual chapters of your chosen book. Beginning with the first chapter, follow the simple steps found on the next page. Commence each step with prayer. Genuinely seek the face of God and His will for your life. “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” Psalm 27:8 “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:” Matthew 7:7

 

  1. Read the chapter, noting any questions you may have along the way. For instance, what does _____ mean? Do the Jews still carry on this tradition today? Why would he have said that specifically? Etc.
  2. Spend some time searching out a few more scriptures that address common topics or themes. Scripture is best understood in the light of other Scripture. The Bible is a uniform whole, communicating to us the story of God’s plan of redemption for mankind.
  3. Pray. This time, ask for help staying focused and finding helpful information. Look up the answers to your questions, and write down the results.
  4. Cultivate a desire for God’s truth, and ask for eyes to see the big picture. Read the chapter a second time, and write down any of your own thoughts and opinions. If another scripture comes to your mind while reading, look up the reference and make note of it.
  5. Pray again. This time pray for discernment before you read the opinions of others. Find out what other Christians believe about this chapter. This is where you need the most discernment, and if you aren’t sure, you may want to skip this step until you become more grounded in the Scriptures.
  6. Ask for strength to apply the Word of God in your daily life. Read the chapter one last time, writing down any personal applications you can find.
  7. Find your favorite verse from the chapter and memorize it. “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” Psalm 1:2

In the instance of preparation for a weekly group Bible study, these steps can be accomplished one day at a time throughout the week, spending 10-20 minutes in study each day. If you split the steps like this, be sure to begin each daily session with prayer.

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That Sweet, Sweet Spirit

I first shared these thoughts in 2011. Today, I needed that gentle reminder from the Holy Spirit. He says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. How do we come to Him? With a humble and contrite spirit. With praise and worship for everything He Is, and for everything He has done for us. I thought these words might encourage someone today, so I am re-sharing it (slightly altered from the original).

 

Lacking:

I have often wondered what I am missing in my personal Bible study and prayer time. Why do I seldom feel that sweet Spirit at home that I often feel in church while surrounded by people, as I struggle to resist the overwhelming desire to weep aloud and praise God with my whole being? The answer came to me quite unexpectedly yesterday morning as I researched and meditated over the life of Matthew Henry.

I was reading that Mr. Henry used to invite his friends over after God answered a special prayer. They would then proceed to worship God together as a group, thanking Him for His recent blessings. Now, I’ve heard of prayer meetings where people get together and petition God for something, but never just to thank Him. The verse was quoted:

O magnify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. Psalm 34:3

After reading about this, my mind wandered to several places that I’m having trouble tracking, but a few minutes later, I found myself trying to remember several praise and worship songs that I learned as a teenager.

When I look into your loveliness, when I gaze into your righteousness, when all things that surround become shadows in the Light of You.

I worship you, Lord; I worship you, Lord. The reason I live is to worship you.

You are awesome in this place, mighty God. You are awesome in this place, Abba Father. You are worthy of our praise; to you our hearts we raise.

I worship you, Almighty God; there is none like you. I worship you, Almighty God; that is what I long to do. I give you praise, for you are my righteousness.

I couldn’t remember all of the words to the songs, but you should be thankful, because I would probably sit here typing them out and singing them in my head all day long if I could.

As I sang bits and pieces of songs from my youth, I was impacted by the presence of God in my life. By His incredible love for me, His mercy toward me. I reached a point where I could sing no longer, but merely sit and weep, and try to take it all in.

The missing element:

Singing! When I sing, I glorify only – I’m not busy asking for things or being otherwise selfish. I am bearing my soul to testify of His worth. For the purpose of this post, I am changing the meaning of this old expression by slightly altering the spelling of the first word.

Baring. My. Soul.

When I think of baring something, I think of revealing it, making it naked, exposing it for what it truly is. When I come to Him in humility, worshipping Him for His wonderfulness, nothing stands between me and God. He sees me and understands me fully at all times, but when I sing, I am aware of Him looking back at me. And I don’t quite know how to deal with that.

Something about singing reveals our human qualities; the imperfections of the voice mirror the imperfections of the soul. Singing takes away the façade, stripping us down from how we want to be seen to the nakedness of who and what we really are. To the transparency of our utter dependence on Him.

It is difficult to pretend to be something that you’re not when you are singing, unless one has been highly trained to do so. Even then, if the trained singer once breaks focus and contemplates the message he is yielding forth, he is in danger of losing his composition, becoming that shattered and hopeful spirit once again as he struggles to physically cope with the majesty that is God’s love and grace.