January 9, 2012

Introduction To Bible Study

Originally postsed in April of 2009 as “Having Productive Times With God”. I have made a few tweaks and reposted it for our Men’s Group that will start walking through the book of Ephesians soon.

We’ve all had times alone with God that we wish we could have remembered or applied to our lives better. And I am no different. Lately since I have found a system that helps me read, understand, and apply the Word I have been able to really dig some great truths and life giving revelations out of my times with God. I love sharing this process with others. That’s why I was honored to be asked to speak at my church while the pastor is on a mission trip. He asked me to speak to them on Bible study or “Quiet Times” (that phrase bothers me, makes me feel as if I’m in trouble or something). Below is the outline I typed up to use as I taught. I have revised it for the blog to help it be a little more readable, but it still may be a bit choppy, sorry. I hope it will be of some help though. It is a Bible study method I got from Pastor Matt Chandler of the Village Church in Texas and I am indebted to him for it. Full audio HERE.

How many of us, when we sit down and have a great time with God, end up forgetting most of it by noon?
I want to help us build out a system to help us receive and retain more of what we experience with God.
The Bible shouldn’t be read as a news paper or just another book. It is a source of life giving revelation and wisdom.

There are three main places in the world to get wisdom:

1. Personal experience. Some would say that the only place to get wisdom is the Bible, but the Bible never told me not to pour gas on a fire… Unfortunately my personal experience told me that. Personal experience should never be the only way we receive wisdom because it is limited to our age. i.e. The only way to know what it’s like to be a 30 year old man is to be one.
2. Other people’s experience.

  • This is where we, as evangelicals, tend to make ourselves spiritually impotent.
  • We tend to spend our “quiet times” reading daily devotionals. Where we read 1 or 2 verses at most (sometimes only part of one) then the author takes 6 or 7 paragraphs to explain his opinion or view of the text.
  • That is us living on other people’s fish.
  • It’s not bad, it just can’t be primary.
  • With technology, a lot of people are listening to preachers all over the country. And you would be a fool to not take advantage of such great resources. Again, not bad (solid doctrinal teaching is hard to find), but it can’t be primary.

3. The God of the universe.

A survey was conducted across all major denominations to those who consistently went to one church.

  • Question: How helpful is the church in your spiritual development?
  • Those who had been saved close to a year – “The church is amazing”. We are learning all we can from whomever we can.
  • Those saved six years or more – “The church hardly helps at all”. Within about six years we go from passionate pursuit of Christ to churchman. The church as a whole is doing a poor job on teaching it’s members how to study the Bible for themselves and the members are taking no initiative to look into it for themselves.

It has to be our own! But, not ON your own!

I”m not saying you pull away from everyone and develop some weird wacky theology (which will happen if you only trust your interpretation) –  talk to others. We have to find a way for our relationship with God to be truly personal and truly our own. Reading our Bible and studying it is only one way we grow as Christians. God has ordained that we grow as believers when we get involved in, and submit to a local church, and when we have godly, biblical relationships with people who have authority to call us out and correct us.

Remember your faith is not ultimately about you. God is the one who saved you and He saved you for His will and for His purposes. Everything you learn is not meant to stop with you. It is all meant to be passed on through you in ministry or teaching as you lead your wife, kids, in the church and in the community.

Tools not Rules.

Cheesy rhyme I know, but please don’t think I believe you have to do it like this or you’re doing it wrong. I’m just stating what works for me. Though I believe there are a lot of solid principals to be taken from this system. We are all wired a little differently. You must find what stirs up your heart for Christ!

Things you will need:

Consistent time and place.

  • Day or Night. Whenever your mind works the best.
  • Don’t waste time looking for a different spot every day.

Bible.

  • I like the ESV and other word for word translations. They take the original Greek and Hebrew and translate them word for word which makes them not quite as poetic or flowing as some others. But I think thought for thought translations would be fine as long as their not your only translation you read from.
  • Easiest act of submission in Christianity. You are telling God you don’t have the answers, but you know He does. And you are trusting your life to His Word.
  • We don’t pursue knowledge just for knowledge’s sake. Knowledge puffs up.
  • Knowing God by J I Packer. Turning knowledge of God into knowing God.
  • There are no excuses. All of us could spend some time in the Word even if it’s just a couple of verses a day.

Pen and highlighter.

  • Certain Scriptures will pop out at you.
  • What is making those pop out? You did ask God to speak to you before you started.
  • Reading the Bible says “I want you to speak to me”.
  • The pen and highlighter says “I hear you”
  • Some might object to writing in your Bible saying that you might get confused and start thinking that God told you to write that and that it’s as important or perfect as the Word. There is an easy answer to that… The stuff in ink is me and therefore is subject to change. If it’s in print… you get the point.

Reading plan.

  • A book at a time…
  • Don’t have to waste time finding something to read.
  • It forces you to think about things you normally would not.
  • Don’t be afraid of the tougher texts because they are the ones that push you to dig deeper!

Journal.

  • It’s not a diary! Just write down what God reveals to you in the Word.
  • Helps you track yourself.
  • The journal says “I want to do something with this”.
  • Doesn’t have to be a big expensive deal.

Day planner ( ipod, to-do list, laptop, etc.)

  • All of us at some time or another have been trying to focus on God in prayer or Bible and had ten things run through our mind that we need to do that day.
  • Don’t waste time doing them or rebuking them.
  • Write them on your list and come back to them when you are finished.
  • This helps free your mind and relieve that stress and worry so you can spend as much time as needed with God.

How the plan works.

20,20,20 Plan(for lack of a better term again). Remember: tools not rules. I usually go for about an hour, but the breakdowns sometimes don’t follow this pattern.
20 min. Reading (give or take) *Pray first. Not just reading to check off a list.

  • Highlight sections that pop out at you. ½ a verse to a paragraph.
  • Notes in Bible.

20 min. Journal.

  • Write down one verse you highlighted that stood out most.
  • Date, page number, title.
  • Write down observations based on the context of the book or chapter.
  • Go back and check the cross references and footnotes in your Bible.

20 min. Application & Prayer

  • How does this effect my life?
  • Avoid ambiguity and be as specific as possible for that day.
  • Repent where you are convicted.
  • It’s not legalistic to do what the Word says and what the Spirit points out to you. Especially since you prayed beforehand and asked Him to speak to you!
  • Write out your prayer as well.

Lastly share what’s been going on with your spouse or friends.

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