September 30, 2019
I was in elementary school when my parents gave me my first Bible—a Psalty’s Kids Bible, to be exact. I grew up listening to stories of characters in the Bible and was taught in Sunday school to read your Bible, pray every day, and you’ll grow, grow, grow!
Even as a teenager, we were passionately encouraged by our pastors and leaders to read the Bible daily. But reading my Bible had often made me feel disappointed since I found that what I was reading hard to understand.
Later on, I learned that the value of reading the Bible is in studying it, unpacking its meaning, and hearing from God on how to apply it. Reading the Bible is more than just an academic activity where we try to study the Scriptures as if it were a mere lesson. It’s a spiritual activity where we commune with God and depend on the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and our eyes to what God wants to speak to us.
The Bible is more than just a book of commandments to follow, promises to believe in, and warnings to take note of. It is the Word of God itself. In fact, if we want to live a successful life, reading the Bible allows us to recognize His voice better in order to make decisions according to His will (Joshua 1:8).
If you’re reading this and you want to fully enjoy your devotional time, here’s a method, which Pastor Steve Murrell developed and shared to us, that can help you discover what God wants to speak to you through His Word. This approach is called ROAD—Read, Observe, Ask, Do.
During my personal devotional time, I use both my physical Bible and my smartphone to read. I use my smartphone—set on airplane mode—to read the passage in different translations. Here are some tips for you as you read the passage.
This may take some time, but it’s important to savor the Word and spend ample time with it. It’s not about how many chapters you can read in a day.
Write your observations about the passage. Observations do not require revelation, but these are what we see in the passage blatantly. Your observations are the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the text. Here, we answer the question, “What does the text say?”
As we list down our observations, we unpack what the passage is really trying to say and look at the original intent of the author (e.g., who the passage is meant for, why it was stated a certain way).
As we observe the text, certain questions come up. Asking questions allows us to draw more meaningful insights and conclusions from the Word. These questions can draw us closer to God, or they might lead us to people who can help us understand the Bible deeper. Some of the questions we ask can be answered within the same Scripture, but others can’t. Some of the answers to the questions require a bit more research, so we have to know which ones are important to answer.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
In this verse, James is reminding us that the Word of God wasn’t only meant to be heard or studied; the Scriptures are meant to be applied in our lives.
This is where we ask the Lord what He wants us to do about what we’ve read. It’s also where we ask Him for faith, grace, and the strength to respond to His Word and obey His leading.
In order to make these truths stick, write what God has revealed to you, as well as the action plans that you intend to start doing in your life.
It’s also wise to share your action plans with someone who can help you and hold you accountable for these things.
Finally, be in faith! Know that God is eager to reveal Himself more to you every time you dig deeper in the Scripture. We hope that by applying this method, you will find more joy and enthusiasm in your devotional time, which will overflow into your relationship with others!