Tuesday, July 11, 2017

how I read and study the Bible

I have been asked recently, the question of how to go about this reading and studying the bible.  I am certainly no expert, but by now, I do know my way around the bible.  If you're one who regularly reads my blog, and this is redundant to you, then you might want to leave now.  If you're newer, or if you're one of the ones who has been asking me this, this is for you.  I won't name names.  You know who you are.  Some of you are older than me, some younger, some the same age, and some of you are teenagers.  I say that because this can be for anyone, of any age.

For me, all of this passion came from when I joined a bible study for homeschool moms five years ago.  The boys went to classes and the moms studied the bible.  We did this type of study called Precept Upon Precept by Kay Arthur, and though it took me FOREVER to "get it", this became my favorite way of studying.  Before I did these Precept studies, I had done only studies already written for me.  The Precept studies teach you to read the word of God (and then do that over and over and over again until it sticks), and to come to your own conclusions on what the text is saying.  I have nothing against studies already written out, by the way, and I am currently doing a Beth Moore one on my own.  Those are wonderful and are what initially ever got me into the word of God in the first place!  There are tons of options, but I'll list those later.

My way of reading and studying is so simple that you might not believe me.

It starts with prayer.  When I read the bible first thing in the morning, I always start by praying first.  Sometimes I pray a long prayer and list out all my requests before God.  Other times, like this morning, I wasn't focused enough to pray that way yet, so I committed this day to the Lord.  I asked Him to give me pockets of time to talk to Him throughout the day, and I asked Him that as I read His word, to teach me through it today.  I always ask Him for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of what I am about to read, and I ask Him to speak to me through His word.

And then, He always does.

I started this morning by reading Psalm 5.  (I seem to always be reading in Psalm.)

This is a short chapter, twelve verses to be exact, and I read them aloud.  Sometimes I love to pray them back to Him as I'm reading.  While I'm reading, if something jumps out at me, I'll underline it or highlight it, and I might even draw a heart next to it, showing me that I loved what that particular verse said.  When I finished the chapter in Psalm this morning, I got out my journal, and I started writing out things listed about God.  I wrote out a verse or two that I really liked also, so that I can go back and revisit it later.

This was what my journal page looked like after I'd read that Psalm.  I blocked out an answer to prayer for someone, to protect their privacy, but I always write down things like that too.  Prayer requests and praises when He answers.

You can read for yourself, but I'll list it here too, what Psalm 5 said about God.

He listens to our words.

He considers our sighing.

He pays attention to the sound of our cries.

He hears our words.

He does not delight in wickedness, evil cannot dwell with Him.

The boastful cannot stand in His presence, He hates evildoers.

He destroys those who lie, He abhors a man of bloodshed and treachery.

I love verse seven: "But I enter Your house by the abundance of Your faithful love; I bow down toward Your holy temple in reverential awe of You."

He leads us in His righteousness, He makes our way straight before us.

All who take refuge in Him rejoice.

He shelters those who love Him, and for the righteous ones, He surrounds them with favor as a shield.

All of that came from those twelve verses of Psalm 5.

See how simple it is?  I sometimes like to pray this out to Him, praising Him that He blesses His righteous ones, and that He surrounds them with favor like a shield.  Especially because right now, I have a dear friend who has cancer, and she reached out for prayer last night.  I know that no matter what, God is in control, and He will surround her with favor as a shield, because His word says that.  Now that doesn't mean that bad things won't ever happen, it just means that when or if something scary or unexpected happens, He is still our shield, our refuge for those who place their faith in Him.

If I'm reading in the New Testament, where the chapters are a lot longer than in the book of Psalm, I like to read and study section by section.  If you'll look in your bible at Ephesians 6 (where I was this morning in my quiet time), you will see that verses one through four are under the subtitle, Children and Parents.  Verses five through nine are under the subtitle, Slaves and Masters.  Verse ten starts under a new subtitle, Christian Warfare.  When the bible was originally written, it was not broken up by chapters.  That's why I like to read by sections, because sometimes you'll reach a new chapter, and you'll see that the writer wasn't quite finished with that topic being discussed, like in Ephesians 5.  So on the day when I was reading there in Ephesians, I went from chapter four verse seventeen (under the subtitle, Living the New Life) through chapter five verse five, before a new section began again.

It is so easy, and it has made a huge difference in how I read and learn.

Always when I read, I use my journal to jot down what I'm learning about.  This morning in chapter six verses one through four, I wrote down what Paul (the writer of Ephesians) was saying to children, then to parents.  I did the same in verses five through nine, when he is talking to slaves and masters.

If I write things down like this, it helps me absorb what I'm reading.

I know not everyone is a lover of writing and journaling, but even if you make short bullet points, it helps tremendously.  It helps me remember what I've read, which is what I pray each morning.

So, that's it.  It's so simple that teenagers can quickly grasp this idea, yet it's so good that it makes your quiet time much more rich.  I know that I've been guilty of reading the bible just because I know I should.  And I've gone through it pretty quickly, too, so that I could check it off my list.  I don't want to do that anymore, though.  I want to read slowly and steadily, and I want to learn as I go.  I believe that's how we're supposed to read, so that what we're reading seeps into us.  We are also supposed to live out what we read so that the world will know we are different.  We should look NOTHING like the world, but pretty much, polar opposite.

Here are a couple of more pictures from recent quiet times.

I love to have a candle burning while I read and spend time with the Lord.  I like my space to look pretty, and I want to be drawn to spend time with Him each morning.  That helps me; having an inspiring space to sit and soak.  You will see that I write in my bible.  I mark it all up, I draw in it, I underline in it, I talk to God in it, and I write things to my boys in it.  I want them to have my bibles someday when I'm gone.

I like to use colored pens more than highlighters in my bible.  Highlighters usually bleed really bad, and these Papermate Flair felt tip pens do not bleed as much.  It does show through a tiny bit on the back of my bible pages, but that doesn't bother me.

I pray that all of this inspires someone to jump back into reading God's word, or to maybe start for the first time.  If that is you, a great place to start is in the book of John, in the New Testament.  It tells of how Jesus came to be, and who He is.

One last thing I do in my quiet time is writing out scripture.

You could even take this page and use it for your quiet time.  I told a teenager that last week.  Quiet time with the Lord each day doesn't have to be an hour long.  It could be praying, then reading a few scriptures.  That would take about fifteen minutes or so.  You can make it as long or as short as you want...the point is not quantity, but quality.  So this scripture writing plan is also a good plan to read by, and it's all themed.  I share these every month, from Sweet Blessings, and will continue to do so.

Thanks for reading my blog!  Love to all.

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