January 23, 2018
In my previous article, “How Do I Know Which to Believe?“, I mentioned one way to know which to believe is to dig deeper into the Word.
Some of us may have tried it before, but found that the usual methods are either too tedious or too difficult to sustain, while others have never done so and want to, but don’t know where to begin. So, to start Here are five tips that can help you as you start anew this 2018.
Students traditionally learn through reading and writing, but in this day and age, many students get frustrated with their progress. Studies have shown that people learn in different ways; a person’s inability to learn isn’t necessarily because he is lazy or unmotivated, but perhaps because he’s suited to a different way of learning.
According to the Visual, Aural, Read/write, and Kinesthetic (VARK) learning model, most people may be categorized into one of the following four learning style categories:
Knowing how you learn most effectively and efficiently will radical change your Bible study time.
When I first started to read the Bible, the tools for digging deeper into it were so hard to come; ordinary students like me never heard of things like commentaries. Today, though, there are many resources available to help us jumpstart a deeper study.
While the SOAP (Scripture-Observation-Application-Prayer) method for Bible reading is a good start, if we jump right into a passage without understanding its context and original audience, we may misinterpret the text. No wonder many of us struggle understanding Bible passages, verses, and books! (Leviticus or Numbers, anyone?)
Consider using Bible commentaries and survey tools, which help readers understand the background of each book. Online articles that explain the books’ context and overview are available at sites like Bible Study Tools, Bible Gateway, and Blue Letter Bible.
Because I’m a highly visual and kinesthetic learner, the Bible Project’s Read Scripture video series (Old Testament and New Testament) has helped me a lot in understanding what each book is about. It comes with a Daily Reading Plan mobile app in Android and iOS.
If you are more of an auditory learner, podcasts of Old Testament and New Testament surveys might work for you. One that I would recommend is “Exploring My Strange Bible” by Tim Mackie. Another would be D.A. Carson’s series, “The God Who is There“.
Regardless of which method you choose, don’t forget the basics. Read the passage aloud, several times. Study the context of the passage. Ask the Holy Spirit for insight on the passage (compare versions, do SOAP, etc.). For other perspectives, read commentaries or share your insights with other Christian.
Journaling enables us to remember God’s promises, His goodness and His faithfulness. We record His revelations to show the constancy of His word in every generation.
Personally, I struggled for many years with journaling, because I don’t like writing by hand. Many times, I struggle to read and understand what I’ve written; other times, I couldn’t hand-write as fast as I could think. It was so frustrating that I would stop journaling for months.
Thank God for technology! If you’re like me, and can actually type faster than you write, you can consider starting an e-journal, which offers speed and instant legibility! If you’re the vlogger type, you can also explore video recording and editing a weekly vlog journal.
I’ve also recently explored voice recording revelations and thoughts from God. (At the end of the week, I compile them in a mind map or a creative journal, giving me an excuse to buy those different colored pens, cute craft items, and pretty washi tapes.) For people like me with bad handwriting, a notebook without lines and the freedom to write and draw stuff anywhere can make notetaking more enjoyable.
The Israelites had a way to journal, too, as illustrated in Deuteronomy 11:18-21:
“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.”
The next generation also benefits from our own record of how God worked in our lives by knowing the Lord and what He has done in us and for us. We don’t want them to end up like the post-Joshua generation, who “neither knew the Lord nor what He has done for Israel (Judges 2:10)”.
However you do it, journaling is a great way to remember what God teaches and reveals to us in every circumstance and in every season of our life. Times may change, technology may upgrade, and methods may vary. But the principle behind why we do things remain.
Joshua 1:8 says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
Meditating on the word of God simply means remembering and speaking it in our hearts, minds, lips, throughout the day. Doing so makes it easier for us to obey it when the opportunity presents itself. The Holy Spirit never fails to remind me about His word whenever I needed to respond correctly to a certain situation.
But also, nothing beats putting what we learn from the Bible into practice in order for it to transform all of who we are. Besides, it is clear in James 1:22 that we are to “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
Philemon 1:6 says, “and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.”
The more we share about the faith we have through reading and obeying God’s word, the deeper our knowledge of our blessings in Christ becomes! Letting others share with us can also add insight to what we already know.
Studying the Bible may not be something we feel like doing all the time, but thank God because He has given us tools that make it more enjoyable than ever.