December 11, 2020

Studying the Bible with Purpose (Part 2)

Hello and welcome to Coffee and the Word with Sherry.

This session we're going to continue talking about how to study the bible with purpose.  I want to give you some actual techniques - some ideas and suggested ways to actually study the bible with a purpose and a plan. Some of us are real planners and some of us aren't. But, what i have found with Bible Study is that we have to have some kind of a plan or some kind of a structure.  It will help most of us to get in the Word,  to stay in the Word and to get the most out of it.

So, we're going to be talking about that.  Now the last time we were together, I talked a little bit about why we study the bible. Of course, that's very important, so if you haven't watched that Coffee and the Word episode on How to Study the Bible with Purpose (Part 1), be sure to go back and watch that. 

But, let's just talk a little bit about some techniques.  So if you have your coffee or tea and your Bible join me.  This is going to be a really good study and I think this will be very helpful to you.

So,  a lot of times what I do is take the word and actually pick out a book of the Bible to study. Now, it may be one I've studied many times or it may be one that I've even taught on.  It doesn't make any difference because we can always get something more from the word.

Now if you've never done this before, maybe a good place to start would be in the book of James. It's a great, great book in the Bible with lots of practical application of the word.  And, it's only five chapters long so it's probably a good one to start with.  We will plan to spend some time - several days or maybe even longer reading through the entire book at one time. So again, if it's only five chapters it's not going to take you as long to do this more than once.  Do this as much as you can. Just read through chapter 1  through 5 of James for an example.  You can choose any book but that's what our example will be.

Today as you read, look for themes that can be woven throughout the chapters or into the chapters. So, sometimes you'll get a general message from the book.  Sometimes you'll get very specific things. 

But for example in the book of James, an obvious theme is persevering through trials.  That's how it starts out and that's what James is talking to us about. So, that would be like a general theme.  

So, as you're reading the book from chapter 1 through 5, you look for those major themes.  And again, we always pray before we start because the Holy Spirit is going to pick out what we need to see and highlight for us. So, you can take notes as you're doing this on ideas that jump out at you.  You'll want to underline or highlight - whatever works. Look for life application principles so, as you're reading you're getting a general theme and then also life application principles  - things that will help you in your daily life. 

An example of a life application principle in the book of James, of course, would be making sure my faith is more important than just my words.  In other words, “walk in the talk”.  It should result in action. So, it's a good practice when you're reading through the book in this method to study the bible, to try and pull out the themes.  Pull out the practical application, the things that can apply to your life.  As you meditate on the word and read through it over and over, and even before you use any other study tools,  I really recommend doing this.  There's lots of things out there to help us as we understand, and read to understand the word. But, this gives us an opportunity for God's word to speak to us personally - personally because we're reading through. We're not using any concordance or commentaries at that moment.  We're just reading through the book.

Now, after you do that, you'll slow down and read the book, verse by verse. And, of course, you may not be able to do this all in one setting. Read each verse and meditate on it. Take as long as it takes to do it.  Take as much time as you need. But, read the book verse by verse and break down the text, looking for deeper understanding.

In Hebrews 4:12 it says:

“For the word of god is living and active”

We talked about this in our last session.  The word is alive. This is how we can change our life. This is how we can learn to draw closer to Christ.  

So, I hope you're getting excited about studying the bible in depth and with purpose. That verse that we just read is a powerful statement. “For the word of god is living and active”

Because God's word is alive, you can study the same passage several times - many, many times.  And then, one day you pick it up to read it, and you'll continue learning from it. In other words, you'll discover something new or a revelation that you didn't get before - an application to your current situation, whatever it might be. 

So, there are many tools and many techniques available for you to learn how to study the bible, or have a guideline. You can go online and find all kinds of different ones, but the one that I wanted to talk about today, besides studying the whole book at once, is something called S.O.A.P.  So, once you start to go through the book that you've chosen, verse by verse,  S.O.A.P. is a great way to journal or to write down or to take notes. Now soap is an acronym and it reads Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer.

So, the S is for scripture.  Take time to read and allow God to speak to you.  So, remember, I said to go verse by verse.  Read that first verse, even if it's just a greeting, and read that over and over.  Allow God to speak to you through that. Highlight, underline, place a mark in the margin, make a note, whatever you need to do.  Write in your journal.  The S is for scripture.  Whatever scripture stands out to you, you want to highlight. When you're done you re-read any of the verses that you've marked or highlighted and look for one theme that particularly spoke to you that day.  Then write that one down.  

However you want to do it, this is just a guideline. But, S.O.A.P.  is a great way to start. So “S” is for Scripture.

“O” is for observation. What you do is think about God's meaning to you, in the scripture.  In these verses what is he saying? What does the Holy Spirit want you to know? What are you sensing that he's talking to you or speaking to you about?  So, ask the Holy Spirit again to teach you;  to reveal Jesus to you; to highlight anything. Paraphrase that and write it down in your own words in your journal. So, you're going to have a scripture, and you write out the scripture in your journal. Then, observe. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what he wants you to see. Then, paraphrase that scripture, just for your own benefit, in your journal.

“A” is for application. Of course, this is very important because we want to apply the word. That's what we've been talking about. That's what Coffee and the word with Sherry is all about.  So, personalize what you've read by asking yourself, “How does this apply to my life right now, today?”  Perhaps it is an instruction, or it could be an encouragement for you.  It could be a revelation of a new promise God has for you.

It could be guidance. It can even be, correction in a particular area of your life. You know God can encourage us and teach us. And, he also can correct us through his Word. So, write out how this scripture can apply to you today, in your journal. So, you’ve written the verse. You've picked up the scripture. You've paraphrased it;  observed what that it says to you. And then, “A” is for Application. We apply it to our lives.

“P” is for prayer. Now, this can be as simple as asking God to help you to use this scripture, this verse or this group of verses, whatever it might be.  Or, it might be praying about a greater insight and asking for greater insight on what he might be revealing to you.

Sometimes we get just a word or something in our spirit. We might want to pray about it and then ask God to flesh that out for us.  So, remember that prayer is a two-way conversation. We always must stop and listen to what God has to say and then write it in our journal.

So, S.O.A.P. is just one method of reading the book through.  I think it's really amazing. If you read a book all the way through, and do what we talked about earlier, and then take the S.O.A.P. method as you go through each verse, this really could be very helpful to you. It's been helpful to me in the past. Now, I want to just quickly touch on some resources out there. You know, there's everything on the internet today, right? So you can find a Bible dictionary. You can find a concordance. You know there's www.biblegateway.com and many others. There are also commentaries out there. I always like to give people a heads up. This is one person's opinion or one group's opinion on a scripture. So, when you're looking at commentary, just know that. It's great to read them. I think it's great as you study, to get more in depth. But, that is someone's interpretation or opinion. 

Now, there are other Bible translations. Maybe you like the NLT -  the New Living Translation. But, you want to look at others.  That's fine. And, all of this can be done online. However, if you have a desk, and you like books, you can also buy all of these things and have them right on your desk to look through.

In our Bibles today, most of us have a concordance in the back. If it's a study bible, it's going to have notes.  All of those things are wonderful, and of great use, but, before you look at any of those things. I recommend asking the Holy Spirit to show you what he wants you to see.  We don't just study God's Word for the sake of reading it. We're going to study it for revelation, for life application, and for things to improve in our life, right? All right. So, that is something that i just wanted to mention to you. I really hope that you will give this a try.

So, my challenge for you is this next week - these next few days, whenever you have time to sit down and study, is to pick out a book of the Bible and read it all the way through. Like I suggested, as many times as you can, as many times as works for you, and then begin to study scripture by scripture. Try the S.O.A.P. plan and see if that works for you.  All right! That's it for today. I will talk to you next time.

Article written by Sherry Poundstone

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