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January 10, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways.”— Psalm 119:15 (NLT)
Yesterday, we talked about what it means to read the entire Bible. Today, we’ll talk about the importance of studying the Bible!
This practice of study is what David described in today’s verse. The Hebrew meaning for “reflect” is “to behold; to consider; to scan; to regard with pleasure, favor, and care.”
As a dad, I can remember the moment the doctor placed my first-born child in my arms. I held him with tear-filled, indescribable joy, but also extreme care and awareness that something precious was in my arms. I scanned him from top to bottom, looking at each feature. I regarded him with pleasure and favor as the purpose-giving joy and satisfaction of fatherhood set in.
Studying the Bible for depth is when you take a few verses that really speak to you and you dissect them. It’s when you really spend time digging into what those verses are saying, what God is saying to you specifically, and how you can apply it to your life.
What the verses are saying: For this, you need to seek context. Reading commentaries is helpful in order to dive into the original language and see the full force of each verse; to know the intended implication of each verse in order to make the proper application to your life.
What God is saying to you: It’s time to reflect on what you just read. What stuck out to you about this verse? What did you feel when you read it? What did God show you? Write it down! Record your findings, your feelings, your questions, and the answers you find as you pray and study.
Personally, when I set aside time for reflection, I’ll reflect on just a few paragraphs because they’re usually a well-contained set of thoughts. When reading, pay attention to verses and chapter numbers. When studying, go from paragraph to paragraph. This will help you consume thoughts more in line with how the original writers intended.
Now, here’s the awesome thing about this practice: There are already a number of solid methods you can put into practice to help you get the most out of your study time. There’s the popular S.O.A.P. method, the W.O.R.D. method, and the H.E.A.R. method. And that’s just three I’ve seen. There are many others out there you can try.
If you test one method for a few days and find it doesn’t work for you, try another until you find the one you’re comfortable with. Or maybe you use something different or something you’ve refined and perfected over the years. Whatever works best in helping you to know the Lord on a deeper level and to apply His Word in your life . . . run with that!
PAUSE: Why is it important to incorporate both reading and studying the Bible into your daily rhythm?
PRACTICE: Consider creating a rhythm in which you alternate between reading and studying. For me, it’s one key passage with prayer in the morning, reading in the afternoon after lunch, and then studying in the evening when everyone in my house is asleep, so I can really dig in, break down the Word, and pray over it. I try to do this five times per week. But maybe for you it’s alternating day-to-day or month-to-month between reading and study, or maybe it’s reading through one whole book of the Bible study and then studying it. There’s no secret formula or one-size-fits-all. Just pray and ask for guidance as you seek to establish your healthy routine of growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through His Word.
PRAY: Father, I thank You that You speak to me directly through Your Word. That in addition to the powerful and life-changing story of redemption through Jesus that is woven through the entire Bible, You also choose to speak to me personally and practically as I read and engage with Your Word. You teach and guide me in my day-to-day decisions and interactions, You provide wisdom, comfort, grace, and purpose for my life, work, and relationships, and You tell me all I need to know in order to live the very best life . . . a life that pleases You, accomplishes Your good purposes and plans, and draws me and others to Your Son. I pray that each day as I open Your Word, You will reveal what You have for me in that passage. Thank You again, Lord, for Your precious Word. Amen.