How I spend time in the Word
Spending time in the Word, and taking time to truly understand it, is something that should be a priority in my life. God speaks through His Word and I should desire, daily, to meet with Him on the pages of Scripture. I've gotten messages from women who want to do this, but feel overwhelmed with how to actually do it. I think in our culture today it's easy to feel overwhelmed with all the options.
Should I do this bible study?
What about this devotional?
Do I need to buy a special journal?
Oh, and what kind of highlighters should I get?
We can easily get so caught up in the materials and the extra, that we miss the Word. We are so overcome with the noise that we can't actually take in the Word. Resources aren't bad, there are so many great things out there to aid in our time with the Lord! But don't be misled; you need nothing apart from the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the people of God to grow. Today I just wanted to share a few thoughts with you that I hope will encourage you to dive into the Word on a consistent basis!
Growing in Bible literacy is of deep importance.
It's so easy today to consume a "social media gospel" of single bible verses, quotes from pastors, and bits of teachings and think that that's enough. While I thoroughly enjoy content from some women who love Jesus, consuming this content is not enough and it will not help us learn the context of the Bible. When reading scripture, context is of upmost importance. Who was the author writing to? What was going on in this time? What is happening surrounding these verses? My favorite example of this is Jeremiah 29:11. I probably don't even have to quote it here because you know it. "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope." But do you know the context surrounding this? The Israelites were in exile, in captivity, in Babylon. Just one verse before the one we so often quote the Lord says after 70 years in exile He will fulfill His promise. After SEVENTY YEARS. This will not happen in the lifetime of many of those exiled and just a few verses before God was telling them to start new lives in Babylon. So this verse wasn't a promise that God was going to fix all things right at that moment or that their lives would be easy, He was promising that all things were working together for the good of His people. Can we claim this promise of Jeremiah 29:11? I believe the answer is yes! But is this verse promising a life of ease, a life free of suffering, or prosperity? No. It's important that we look at verses like this in context!
One of my favorite podcasts, Risen Motherhood, had Jen Wilkin on sometime last year and she does an incredible job at explaining why biblical literacy, really knowing your Bible, is so important. She gives a lot of encouragement to moms of young kids who might be struggling to find a "quiet time". This is a must listen. You can find it here.
You need a community of believers to help you grow.
We weren't made to live alone, God made us to live in fellowship with Him and with others! I truly believe one of the most important aspects of my relationship with Jesus is my relationship with a local church. In today's social media world it's easy to feel like we have "community" with people all over the world through a smartphone, but this absolutely cannot replace face to face community within the local church. Being connected to other believers, serving alongside them, sitting under biblical teaching will help you to grow! Right now our community group (a smaller group within our church that we meet with weekly) is going through the book of Hebrews via a Jen Wilkin study and it's been incredible to really dig into scripture with other believers. We bring our questions, our struggles, and we walk through the text together. I can't tell you how much it's helped me to really learn alongside other believers! I strongly encourage you to find a local body of believers that you can be committed to!
Studying the Bible inductively has helped me in understanding the word.
The inductive bible study method might sound scary, but I promise it helps me to really take in the word! This method works through three different questions:
1. What does the text say? This is where you look at context within the whole bible, within the book, and within the verses surrounding. You dig into the section and look for these things: things that are emphasized, repeated, related, contrasting, and true to life. Finding these things can help you dissect what the text is actually saying and understand what the author's point was!
2. What does the text mean? This is when you take all the information you've gathered from the first step and start to summarize what you've read and read over any commentaries if you still need some help understanding what it might say.
3. How does the meaning of this text apply in my life? This is where you take what you've read and you apply it to your life. Sometimes, a text won't directly relate to your life in a way that you can actively apply it, but scripture will always show us God's character and reveal sin. In this step you look for ways to actively apply it (a command to follow), repent of sin, or reflect on the character of God that is displayed.
I truly believe if you start to look at scripture through the lens of these questions the Lord will help you to understand and apply the word to your life. If you want some more resources on this, Risen Motherhood has several worksheets that help you work through a method similar to this. I highly recommend taking time to read over them! You can find out about that here.
But what if I don't know where to start?
Are you feeling a little overwhelmed and you're not sure what to do to start spending time in the word consistently? My biggest encouragement for you is just start somewhere! If you really want to dig into the inductive bible study method, start with a small book like Ephesians. If you just want to understand the big story of the bible, I LOVE the Jesus Storybook Bible! Yes, this bible is written for kids but it's an amazing tool for understanding that all the "stories" in the bible fit together in one big story of our redemption plan through Jesus. I also really love my Life Principles Daily Bible. It breaks down the bible for you to read in a year (you read a passage from the old testament, psalms, proverbs, and a passage from the new testament daily) and it's been a great tool for me to grow in consistency, especially as I entered motherhood and had a lot of transition to work through. I've been reading through it again this year even when I've been studying something else. I love picking it up sometime during the day and spending a few minutes in the word! This would be a great tool to help you grow in consistency.
I would love to know what helps you to be consistent in the word! If this is a struggle for you, what are some of your pain points? I would love to continue this conversation in the comments!