There are so many ways to study the Bible! It’s a good thing, too, because there’s so much of the Bible to study! Lately, God’s been leading me into a new understanding. I’d be privileged to share my thoughts with you:
For several years now, in my personal study time, I’ve been reading through the Bible—again and again and again. I start in Genesis, read through to Revelation, then start all over again. Sometimes I switch translations, but I always find my way back to the NIV. That version, even updated now, just feels like home to me.
In any case, through the past few readings, I’ve started lingering longer and longer in some passages, wanting to get as much from each as I can. I know that once I move on, unless we study the passage at church or I encounter it in a book, it may be a few years before I circle around to it again. (I don’t read the Bible through in a year. If you’re curious, click here to learn why.)
This slowing down reminds me of a quote by Quaker minister Stephen Grellet, “I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness I can show to any fellow human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” Grellet was talking about ministering to people—grasping every opportunity—rather than getting the most out of Bible verses, but the idea is the same. Unless God decides to take me home, I know I’ll eventually read whatever passage I’m on again, but I also know it could be a while until I get there, so I hate to move on until I’ve absorbed as much truth from it as I can.
The point is: God is starting to slow me down—even more—again. But for me this is just as scary as moving on too soon! If I slow down, I may never reach a passage that I really need to read! Do I stay or do I go and how do I grasp everything I need to in God’s totally amazing, yet great, big Book?
I think this may become another exercise in trust. Can I trust God to lead me through His Word at His pace and in the order He determines in order to communicate everything to me that I need to know at just the right time I need to hear it?
That is the question.
Since December 1st, I’ve been reading a daily devotional that has weekly themes. Each week, there is a prayer to open with and a prayer to close with. There are devotional readings and Scripture passages that change daily, yet correspond with the week’s theme. There is also a Psalm for the week.
Funny thing is: praying the same two prayers every day for a week doesn’t faze me. I’m enjoying that, coming to understand what I’m asking God to do, and why, and truly making the prayers my own. But I’ve been feeling quite rebellious about reading the same Psalm each day for a week. Something inside me wants to read it, reflect on it, and move on.
I’ve been playing along, though—and, at first, I think it really was playing. But something interesting has happened the past few weeks that’s making me appreciate this discipline more. The first two or three days that I would read a Psalm, I’d think I had it and was ready to move on. But then, on the third or fourth day, something new would jump out at me, allowing me to see the passage in a whole new light. This week something new jumped out the day after that happened, too. Two brand new truths from one Psalm in one week! I can’t wait to read it again tomorrow. Who knows what is waiting for me?
I once knew a pastor who lived only in the Book of Hebrews for three whole years. I was a high school student at the time, so three whole years sounded like an awful long time for studying just one book! Now I think I’d understand if he wanted to stay even longer—just there—if it was what God led him to do.
I attended Bible study class this morning. We’re just starting on the Book of James. As our teacher started talking and classmates started answering her questions, I started remembering all sorts of things I’ve ever learned about that amazing book. But then I stopped myself (or maybe God stopped me). I wasn’t there to remember past lessons, though they are good and true and foundational. I was there to learn something new. So I asked God to open my mind and my heart to new truths. And God answered that prayer.
I hope this post hasn’t annoyed you too much. It’s kind of a ramble, not my usual style. But these are the thoughts that have been roaming through my mind on the subject of grasping hold of God’s Word. For now:
- I’m going to continue reading through my Bible, beginning to end, but I’ll be more open to His direction should He lead me to reread something, jump ahead, go back, or switch versions. Bible study doesn’t have to be an orderly pursuit.
- I will let God facilitate my personal study time, knowing that if I just plow ahead, I may actually be missing something good! I’ll approach every passage I encounter, whether in personal study time, in my Bible study class, in a sermon, or in a book, as an opportunity to learn a new truth—even if, maybe especially if, it’s one I’ve known from childhood.
- I won’t let the size of the Book intimidate me. Instead, I’ll trust God to use it as His perfect tool for instructing me—and each of His children—in all we need to know. If I find myself reading the same Psalm every day of every week for a year, I won’t worry about whatever the next one holds. God will lead me to it in His time. For now He has me studying all that He needs for me to know.
Father, thank You for Your Word. Please forgive me for rationing it out carefully, controlling the intake so I’ll get equal amounts of each priceless verse. Help me to trust You with the pace and content of my Christian education. It’s Your Word—that makes You the perfect teacher Who knows just what I need to know. Open my mind and heart. I want to know what You want me to know about You, Your Kingdom, Your ways, and Your Word. In Jesus’ name, amen.
How do you study the Bible?
What book are you reading now?
In one sentence, what’s a recent lesson you’ve learned?
This post is linked to Missional Women’s Faith-Filled Friday Blog Link-up.