A word or two to get you through the day.

A word or two to get you through the day.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

How To Study The Bible 101

Dig, its 3:12 a.m. in the morning and I cannot sleep. I tried watching TV and there was nothing there to excite me so I decided to write until I got sleepy. Hopefully something will come out that will edify your spirit.
Recently I was listening to a minister discuss ways to study the Word and it inspired me to write about a topic that is not taught often enough in churches. How to study the word of God. Are you ready? Let’s get started.
First and foremost when you are studying the Word of God and you are not used to studying it—expect to get sleepy. It happens. Now if you are adept at decoding and deciphering the Holy Writ you will not have an issue with this, but if you are a neophyte—just expect it to happen and remember it’s not a sin o be sleepy. Don't be so hard on yourself. Now let me tell you why this occurs.
Recently I was speaking to my cousin Jacquetta, and yes I am using her name because “IF” she reads my blogs she will mention this reference next time I talk to her. If she does not then when we speak and she does not bring it up she’ll be busted. J But in our conversation she mentioned she was going to get back in shape in 2012. She mentioned a gym membership or possibly buying gym equipment for the house. I advised her not to but instead to just do a little running first in her neighborhood. She said “Timmy (yeah they call me Timmy) I can’t. When I start running I always get a pain in my lower back and pelvis area.” I assured her that was her bodies way of protesting her change in lifestyle. Look at it as a physiological “Occupy the Body” movement.
Well when you first start reading the bible on a neophyte level there will be an “Occupy the Body Movement” within you and you will get sleepy. I look at it as a way for the carnal man to interrupt the feeding of the spiritual man who is thirsting for the truth that can only be obtained by studying the Word. So when it comes to studying the Word and getting sleepy—I’ll give you the same advice I gave Jacquetta. Fight through it. Sit up. Put water on your face. Set an objective to read a certain number of pages each night but determine that no matter what—you will feed your spirit man.
Now once you get past the “Reading-the-Bible-makes-me-sleepy-so-I-can’t-study” stage what's next?
I am a firm believer that most people attack reading and studying the Word of God much like they read and study a text book. With highlighters in hand they read it and try to understand what they have just read. Have you ever wondered why many preachers preach on the Prodigal Son and focus so much time on the fact that the kid “came” to himself. They camp out on that one area of the passage. Why? Because they have read the passage as if it’s a text book. But you can never cursory read the Bible because your text book is dated. In other words what's true today in it may or may not be true this time ten years from now. But most importantly your text book cannot breath. Your Bible on the other hand can inhale and exhale because it’s the living breathing word of God. So this is how you should attack it.

Pray about it. Before I study I pray and my simple prayer goes a little like this. “God show me something when I read this that I have never seen before.” In other words I am consenting to the Holy Spirit that the knowledge I would like to be revealed in this reading is above my pay grade. It’s a level of knowledge and understanding I have not yet attained or deserve. That it’s something I could never come up with on my own so before I read a word, I am going to need a little help Lord.
Pronounce it. This is very underrated when it comes to studying the word and let me just say for the record nothing aggravates me more than having a man or woman of God not being able to pronounce a name—a city or a nation in the Bible. I tend to immediately ask myself, “Have they even read this themselves?”
When you say the words aloud—correctly often it will unlock the subtext of the passage and you will be given insight into a deeper revelation of what God is saying to us in His Word. Keep in mind that all the words in the Bible are there for a specific reason so when we skip over one or two because we don't know how to pronounce them then we fail to understand the significance of the word. Unlike a previous generation you can use the internet to not only locate the word in question, many sites will also let you hear how it is supposed to be pronounced. Don't miss out on a blessing because you did not feel the necessity of checking it out on Wikipedia.
Picture It. If you really want to see the Word of God in a different way; see yourself IN the word of God. For instance imagine yourself in Judea. It’s hot. It's at least 100 degrees with no wind blowing. It has not rained in MONTHS. People are packed as tight as sardines trying to see Jesus. They brushing up on each other and then you smell something. It’s a woman—with a dress that's bloody, and it does not smell like she has bathe for weeks.
How would you feel?
No one wears deodorant and here is a woman that smells like—well you get the picture.
What would you think?
What did the disciples think when they smelled her?
Now with that in mind—have you ever been dealing with something, and the people closest to you were aware of it but they may not want to get close to you? How do you feel when the ones that are closest to you in life—all of a sudden turn up their nose at you? Now you can get an idea how the woman with the issue of blood must have felt, when people who were close to God—all of a sudden did not want to be close to her. See the Word of God not only from another point of view—but literally put yourself into the story to gain deeper insight.
Prob it. The following is something developed by Rick Warren. It’s an acronym to assist in dissecting the Word of God as if you were holding a scapular. Just remember SPACE PETS. Also if you would like to gain even more insight into how to study the Word I highly recommend Rick Warrens, “Bible Study Methods: 12 Ways You Can Unlock God’s Word.”
Sin to confess? When you read a chapter of the bible—ask yourself this question. Do I need to make any restitution in my life?
Promise to claim? Is it a universal promise? Have I met the condition(s)?
Attitude to change? Am I willing to work on a negative attitude and begin building toward a positive one?
Command to obey? Am I willing to do it no matter how I feel?
Example to follow? Is it a positive example for me to copy or a negative one to avoid?
Prayer to pray? Is there anything I need to pray back to God?
Error to avoid? Is there any problem in this passage that I should be alert to, or beware of?
Truth to believe? What new things can I learn about God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, or the other biblical teachings?
Something to praise God for? Is there something here I can be thankful for?
Paraphrase it. In other words how would you say it? Get past the way it is written—use your own way of applying it to your life. As a child growing up—I thought it was almost a sin to read anything but the King James Version of the Bible when actuality it’s just a Bible that was written the way people spoke in 1611. In fact some people believe it was translated by William Shakespeare. So with that being said, one of my favorite verses in the Bible says, “When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell… Now how would you paraphrase that? “Even when people who hate my natural guts come up against me—they will never succeed.” (Did that come alive for you too?)
Personalize it. Frequently powerful passages can lose their effectiveness because we have heard them so often. For instance “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” No one would argue that this is a powerful passage but what about this for a deeper revelation. “Question? Can I tell you just how much God loved everyone in the world? He loved them so much that he gave His only child just to save them and if Timmothy  was the only person in the world he would have done it just so Timmothy would never die and in fact live forever—with him. That's how much he loved Timmothy.” Do this with the next passage you study. Insert your name in it so you can “feel” what God would have you to understand about the text.
CLOSE in prayer, solitude and meditation. Before you close that Bible, I suggest laying your hand on the passage and asking God to seal it in your heart. We often teach about spiritual disciplines but a couple of disciplines we don't really focus much on are the disciplines of solitude and silence and the discipline of mediation. After a prayer try to just close out the world and then meditate on what God is saying to you. Don't tweet. Don't have the TV playing in the background. Listen with your heart. Understand why you were directed by the Holy Spirit to read and study this passage. Mediate on the journey you have just concluded and where God is about to take you as a result of this experience.
If you follow these steps I can assure you that revelation will come to you long after the book is closed and might I suggest having a pen handy because if you are anything like me, when divine revelation comes it doesn't to tend to stay locked in my mind. I have to write it down or I am kicking myself all day.
With this being said its now 5:26 a.m., I’m still wide awake but I pray that this has helped you and that the next time you read your Bible you will see things you never saw before in Gods Holy Writ.
(I wonder if McDonalds is open.)
Oh yeah—make this day the first day of the rest of your life!

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