Bible study is as essential to our spiritual life as breathing. Jesus says His words are life (John 6:63). So to have spiritual life, we need to study the Bible. Reading the Bible sometimes may not be easy and it can be hard sometimes to relate to something that happened thousands of years ago. Here are 5 tools to help your study experience be more effective.
1. Learn about God
Ok, this may sound like an obvious point however some passages on the surface may not be so obvious about teaching us who God is. A question to always ask yourself when you read any passage in the Bible is “What does this teach me about God?” If you don’t get an answer, keep reading it and study the context or the culture to try to understand it because the Bible is all about Him (John 6:39).
Questions to ask:
- What does this tell me about God’s love?
- What does this tell me about God’s character?
- What does this tell me about the help God gives?
- What does this tell me about God’s power?
2. Experience God’s word
As you read, especially when it comes to stories, engage all five senses.
- See in your mind’s eye the many sick and paralysed people laying beside the pool of Bethesda waiting for the moving of the water.
- Feel the weight of that wooden cross as a bleeding, beaten and bruised Jesus tries to carry it.
- Taste the warm rich stew in which a tired and hungry Esau finds momentary satisfaction.
- Smell the stuffy, dirty, rusty prison they threw Paul and Silas in and yet they continued to praise God.
- Hear the angry mob of the Pharisees as they shout in outrage at Jesus.
Put yourself in the story
See the story from the different the perspectives of the characters involved. For example in Matthew 17:14-19, see the story from the point of view of the desperate father whose hope is fading as the disciples are not able to heal his son. Or put yourselves in the shoes of the disciples who are frustrated and perhaps humiliated when they don’t understand why they can’t help the boy when they have done miracles before. Or try to imagine it through Jesus’ perspective, the sorrow he felt even with all the the commotion going on He still sees the unbelief in the people’s hearts.
Try this with any story and see what lessons you can learn from the different characters.
3. Think about the “So what?”
So why is the passage important? What relevance does it have…to the bigger picture, or to the plan of salvation, or to your life?
4. Apply it to your life.
Think about what lessons God has taught you personally in the passage. This Is the part where the passage is made real to you.
- Is there change God wants you to make in your life?
- Is there a sin you need to confess?
- Is there something to thank God for?
- Is there a promise to claim?
- Is God calling you to serve?
What should I do with what I have learnt?
5. Then write it down.
Write down the lesson you have learnt. Write down your response to what you have read. Or write down your thoughts. Write down your prayer. Or write down your commitment to do something. Write down your questions. Write anything you want. Writing it creates a deeper impression in your mind and helps process what you have read.
Bonus Tip: Look for opportunities to share what you have learnt with someone, verbalising it helps you remember and the real added bonus is that what you share could be a blessing for someone else too.