In the beginning of this year, I wanted to embark on the journey of learning more about God, His character, and promises through journaling His word throughout the year. I can say with confidence that things are going quite well so far. Now that we’re in the last month of 2021, I committed to finishing strong. However, I did have my hard moments.
One of the hardest things about studying the Bible on my own was continuing to be disciplined in reading scripture that was beneficial to my spirit but felt cumbersome to my flesh. While I do believe every book in the Bible is very important, the book of Leviticus and Number honestly really don’t charge my batteries. Between the heavy laden six hundred plus laws, the census with names and tribes I won’t even dare to pronounce, and math to count the tribes, that alone gives me a sudden urge to slam the book shut and turn on Netflix.
I also struggle with distractions. Oftentimes, that wildly funny comment on social media or urgent text message seems a lot more interesting than which king keeps placing Judah in captivity. And then there are moments where reading and understanding the Bible is just simply hard to understand. The context of what certain words and phrases mean can often be confusing. And let’s not talk about the book of Ezekiel and their super complex prophecies.
In these moments, I find myself wanting to give up and save myself from having a headache later. If you’re reading this, maybe you feel the same way in your Bible study time too.
However, God is currently teaching me some golden lessons that enriches my study in His word while making it more enjoyable. Here are three awesome lessons that God is teaching me about studying His word:
Have you ever eaten so fast to the point where you felt stuffed and full but unsatisfied or even nauseous? Our digestion system goes completely haywire because our mouths are taking in more than what our stomachs can keep up with. Studying God’s word can give us the same feeling spiritually.
Sometimes, I attempt to cram and gorge on God’s word as quickly as I can just to check off our daily “read my Bible” list. After I’m done, I have little to no clue what I just read or what God is saying. I’m learning that reading and studying God’s word is meant to be read slowly while taking the time to soak in what’s written and what God is saying.
When we read God’s word in haste, we miss out on the peaceful and intimate blessings of being able to hear from Him and understanding His word clearly with proper context.
So, the next time you’re in God’s word, SLOW DOWN. Take your time. You’ll be surprised to see what being said and what’s not being said while being showered and strengthened by God’s love and peace.
Context Is Key
I used to read a verse or two for devotional purposes and say that I got so much out of reading the Bible. While God certainly does speak in those one or few verse, I realize that some singular verses only tell a portion of what’s actually being said giving little context.
I’d take those few verses feeling like Bible scholar until I actually sat down and slowly read a few verses before and after the golden verse. That’s when the lightbulb switches on and I think, “Oh…THAT’S what they meant.”
The who, what, when, where, why, and how is presented while telling the complete story of what the author is trying to convey. While the verses do give truth, some are incomplete sentences which causes you to read a little bit more to fully comprehend.
Grasping the full context of scripture gives us the space, grace, clean conviction, and freedom to grow spiritually, discern, and take greater steps of approaching the ultimate goal: to be more like Christ.
It may seem like it’s more work but it’s awesome work that our hearts and spirits need. God will honor our searching and show us who He is and lovingly guide to be more like Him. We’ll be able to recognize blatant lies and half-truths that the world gives us and confidently replace it with God’s truth because we know and understand God’s word in context.
We Have a 24/7 Divine Tutor
The Book of Revelation, Ezekiel, and other difficult to read book in the Bible makes studying God’s word intimidating. I used to think that those who were pastors, seminary students, seasoned and super saved saints could only read those books in God’s word. Newbies like me would either have to wait for Sunday service or a Wednesday night Bible study to understand it because I wasn’t “special” enough to receive that kind of knowledge and revelation.
But that’s NOT the case as at all.
We have 24/7 Divine Tutor named The Holy Spirit who knows ALL things and speaks all TRUTH. He’s currently standing by to take all of our questions about understanding and navigating the Bible when we don’t have a pastor or Bible study leader around. What better teacher than the one who knows the ins and outs of the word Himself?
“But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative — that is, the Holy Spirit — he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything that I have told you.(John 14:26 NLT)
During the times where I seem to be stuck on a certain chapter or specific scripture, I’m learning to turn more and more to the Holy Spirit to teach and guide me through the thick of God’s word. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit will give me the answer right away or I’ll have to search and dig deeper into the word to find the answer. Sometimes, I’ll have to continue to pray and wait for the answer.
Regardless of the answer and how long I have to wait for it, the Holy Spirit stands by my side revealing truth that blesses, encourages, and cleanly convicts me. Also, I’ve discovered that as I dig deep into God’s word, there’s an increased hunger and desire for me to read more and more…even through the hard stuff.
Studying and getting to know God and His word is a lifelong process. I’m not an avid Bible scholar by any means. There’s so much even now that I’ve yet to learn and figure out. However, God lovingly made sure that we don’t walk this journey alone.
Maybe you don’t have a church you can attend to or access to a Bible study teacher. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you read and study God’s word. You’ll discover that He’s the best teacher there is.
What are some of the challenges you face studying the bible on your own? If you’re trying to study on your own, what is God teaching you through this independent study? Let me know in the comments.