Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tips I've learned for studying the Bible

1)      Be consistent:
The entire basis of our faith is based on the words of truth in scripture. These truths are worth our consistent devotion. Set an uncompromised time in the day to read. Make it as sure as you waking up in the morning. It takes a little while to form a habit, but it is gratifying when it is formed.
The time that works best for me is the mornings. If I am sure to get ready and make sure reading my Bible is the first thing I do every day, it keeps me from setting it aside. This was very hard for me at first, but once I established it as a habit, I crave it every day.

2)      Develop discipline in your life:
There is no easy way to have a truly edifying study of scripture. It always takes work! Part of the difficulty that we have in studying scripture has to do with a lack of discipline in other areas of our lives (and we all struggle with a lack of discipline somewhere). Learn to love discipline. Discipline is always miserable at first and highly gratifying later.

For example, you may not be a morning person, but know that reading the Bible in the morning would be ideal. Discipline yourself! Set the alarm across the room and fight not to hit snooze. Go to bed earlier. Set your clothes out the night before. Give yourself more time to take a shower and eat breakfast in order to wake up before you study. I have to give myself an hour of getting ready before I can think clearly. It will be grueling at first, but it gets easier if you fight. Trust me!

3)      Have long term vision:
Hard work pays off. Don’t get discouraged if it isn’t an enlightening experience every day. The long term benefits of hard study are much greater than the need for immediate, but shallow satisfaction.

4)      Constantly self -improve:
None of us begin as biblical scholars. We have to struggle and be discouraged sometimes in order to gain ground. There is a lot that you will not understand, but constantly probing a subject builds familiarity and that familiarity is a key to actual retention of information.

5)      Take the time to understand deeply:
I have found that the satisfaction of knowing a book of the Bible by heart is much greater than having read 5 books and hardly remembering what they said.

I first learned this when I decided to study the book of Romans for as long as my heart desired. I began by reading it over and over again without doing anything else. Then I began to read commentaries and memorize sections. After that, I took a class on it. I didn’t get tired of Romans. The opposite happened. I now have more of a desire to understand Romans than ever before.
6)      Seek to see scripture from different lenses:
a)      Salvations history: God works out His plan for salvation in progressive stages. It helps to understand the different covenants that God has established with His people (Noaic, Abrahamic, Davidic, New Covenant).
b)      Within the book
c)       Immediate context
d)      Close, grammatical study

7)      Repetitive reading in different translations:
 If you try to dive into a technical commentary right away, you will be lost and discouraged. Read a book over and over. Take notes and record what you observe to be key theme. You will notice more each time you read it. Then, when you begin to read a commentary, you will be more familiar with what the commentator is referring to.

8)      Take notes:
A good test of understanding is to see if you can explain something in your own words.

9)      Memorize Scripture:
Memorizing Scripture helps to familiarize you with Scriptural truths that will catch you attention when you study other parts of scripture. I have found it most gratifying to memorize key passages of scripture.

I technique I learned to memorizing passages of scripture is to memorize a verse a day. In your daily devotions, go over and memorize one verse. Repeat it, memorize it, pray about it, and continue to repeat it in your mind as your go throughout the day. The next day, learn the next verse. As I drive to work I go back through the verses I have been learning and remember them in the paragraphs that I learned them. If you do it consistently, you will be surprised as how quickly you can memorize whole chapters of scripture!

1 comment:

  1. These are good tips, and i'm excited to work them into my life.