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The Discipline of Studying

January 14, 2011

Do you find it difficult to study the Word of God? Many people do. Some, because they aren’t sure where to begin, others because it seems too daunting or they think they have to develop the same study patterns as someone else – while still others struggle with the discipline necessary to make it a part of their daily walk.

But if we really understood the power of the Word of God and the benefits that are ours when we invest time in it, it would become more than a spiritual discipline, it would become as necessary to us eating. Job said, “I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food.” Job 23:12

Let’s look at “why” before we look at “how.” Perhaps then we will more readily make Bible study a part of our daily spiritual disciplines.

We study the Word of God because:

The Word of God is Living, Powerful & a Discerner of Our Intents and Our Hearts:

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

The fact that the Word of God is living means it can actively speak to us where we are – not matter what we are going through -God’s Word can speak to our hearts and give direction to our lives. When we place our thoughts and actions under the microscope of the Word of God, it discerns the intention of what we think and do.

The Word of God Gives Direction:

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

As Christians, we aren’t left here on the planet to try to figure out how to do this thing called life on our own. God has given us His Word and the Holy Spirit to define and direct our lives. When we exercise the spiritual discipline of studying the Word of God we avail ourselves of the light we need for the next step and the next decision. God’s Word sheds light on our circumstances.

The Word of God Keeps Us From Sin:

“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11

Sin is not as attractive or as powerful to a woman who has spent time filling her heart and mind with the Word of God. Dwight L. Moody once said, “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.” The choice is ours.

The Word of God Strengthens Our Faith:

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17

Oftentimes, we struggle with life as we know it because we don’t really have the faith necessary to sustain us through difficult days, painful circumstances or trying times. Sometimes, we aren’t sure we can step out in obedience to do what God calls us to because it’s beyond us – more than we think we can handle – or perhaps we think it will cost us more than we’re willing to pay. When we spend time in the Word, it strengthens our faith. It enables us to see our circumstances through the eyes of faith and it gives us the courage to act on it.

The Word of God Helps Us Know the Living God More:

“And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered.” 2 Chronicles 31:21

Hezekiah made serving God, knowing and obeying the Word of God and seeking God the priority of his life. God’s Word reveals who God is. Through it, we know Him better, we know how He calls us to live, we are shown what to run to and what to run from. Like Hezekiah, we need to seek God with all of our hearts.

The study of God’s Word is a discipline that benefits us greatly. It grounds us, teaches us, challenges us, directs us and protects us. It gives us wisdom, peace and power – strength, faith and courage. It comforts our hurting hearts and brings clarity to a confusing world. Like Job, we need it more than we need food.

How Do We Study the Word of God?

There are a variety of Bible study plans available, but I’d like to give you a five-step approach to the discipline of studying the Word of God.

1. Define Your Time & Place – Although some spiritual disciplines come more easily for some than others, studying, by its very nature, requires discipline. If you don’t have a time and place, your day slips away and before you know it, your head has hit the pillow and you haven’t even opened the Word of God.

2. Have a Plan – Whether you’re planning on reading through the Bible in a year, two years or three months, have a plan that takes you through the Word of God. Give yourself enough time to not just read it but study it. Research what you don’t know or topics that may deal with your circumstances. Do word searches, topic studies or choose to study a specific book of the Bible. But whatever you do, have a plan.

3. Consider the Context – Context is key. It’s important to know who the Scripture is addressing, why, what were the historical and cultural circumstances and how can it be biblically and accurately applied in our lives.

4. What Is It Saying – Based on the context in which it was written, what is it saying?

5. What Is It Saying to Me & How Can I Apply It – As you study the Word of God, it’s important to remember it’s living. That it’s the primary way God speaks to us. So, ask yourself, what it is saying and how you can apply what it is saying to your life.

The discipline of studying God’s Word is different than the discipline of reading God’s Word. This is your time to dig deeper. You may want to add additional tools for your excavation of the Word. Tools like commentaries, concordances, biblical dictionaries and lexicons.

If you need some additional resources, you can click on the “Resources and References” link at the top of the page or the “Time in the Word” link in the Resources column on the right hand side of the page. You can also click here and read a great post by Teri Lynne on our goals for being in the Word.

As we start this new year digging the disciplines, please remember, the discipline of studying God’s Word will benefit you more than food, itself!

Do you struggle with the discipline of studying? What are you studying? How do you study the Bible?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 14, 2011 11:37 pm

    One thing I love about God’s Word is that you can find something that strikes your heart anywhere throughout. You can even open it up to any page and begin reading (if you need to sometimes) and – with an open heart and eyes – be able to find a truth that calms, encourages, or convicts. (Of course, I’m a planner, so I usually have a plan I’ve made for myself or one I am following when I do my reading and studying, but, hey, as long as folks are reading with hearts ready to receive!) Actually, I guess you can consider opening the Bible up and reading the first passage you come upon a “plan” of sorts, as long as you intend to study the meaning and application of that verse.

    “Sin is not as attractive or as powerful to a woman who has spent time filling her heart and mind with the Word of God.” Great point here. Surrounding ourselves with the Word helps us maintain focus.

    I like the distinction you make between reading and studying. Perhaps my favorite part of studying is that I sometimes initially sit down to study one topic, and that studying leads me to a whole different topic! Yet it all connects and all teaches and refines. Love it! (I’m a perpetual student at heart, can you tell?)

    Thanks for these beautiful points and practical tips!

    • stephanieshott permalink
      January 15, 2011 9:23 pm

      Caroline ~ I’m like you. I love how I begin studying one topic and it leads me right into another one! I love studying the Word knowing there’s always more to learn! 🙂

  2. January 16, 2011 8:23 am

    I like your five-step process! Thanks for encouraging us all to study–we want all our readers to dig deeper with us!!

    • January 17, 2011 10:18 am

      Sandra ~ It’s pitiful, but I’m a mess without a plan. Nothing to aim at = nothing accomplished for me. 🙂

  3. January 17, 2011 7:58 am

    Great post Stephanie! Rick Warren has a great book for those of us who aren’t sure how to get started studying God’s Word. “Bible Study Methods: Twelve Ways to Unlock God’s Word” gives practical, step-by-step direction on how to do different types of study like topic, book, character, and verse-by-verse. I highly recommend it.

    • January 17, 2011 10:20 am

      Kathy ~ Thanks for the recommendation! I haven’t read that yet, but it will definitely be on my “must read” list for 2011. 🙂

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