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Read, Study, Meditate, Apply August 5, 2009

Posted by TJ Friend in General Principles.
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Hello again. In my last post I wrote down my mission and some general background info on the importance and need for studying the Word. I will have another post later dedicated solely to that purpose. There is a lot more I need to say about the goals and motives that should drive your study of the Word, and as much as I want to jump right in to the practical aspects of studying the Bible,  my fear is that there will be a separation between the Word and the Spirit. Therefore, I am going to spend the next few entries focusing on the Spirit and how we should approach the study of God’s Word. Before I do that though, it is important for people to actually start reading the Word and reaping its benefits now. So, in this post, I want to give a brief overview of the four main ways we can interact with the Bible. There are some more, and I will probably get to those, but it won’t be for awhile. For now we can begin with the fundamentals of studying the Word. As you can tell from the title, these four aspects are: reading, studying, meditating, and applying. All four are important and none should not be neglected.

Read

The most basic way to understand the Bible is to read it. The overarching themes and “plot” of the Bible are fairly straightforward and can be understood if we spend time reading the Word. To understand the Bible we need to understand its “big picture” and then we can fit the smaller pieces into this frame work. Optimally, you should start from the beginning and just read straight through from Genesis to Revelation, but if you are just getting into the Bible I would recommend starting with the New Testament first and then read through the Old Testament.

Here is the problem I see. People will read one book over and over, like Psalms or Proverbs, and will not branch out into other books. II Timothy 3:16-17 says that “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. ” Every book in the Bible is important and needs to be read. You can’t just read your favorite ones all the time, because you will miss out not only on the benefits of the other books, but you will not understand the big idea of the Bible.

Reading is the most basic part of studying the Word. The aim is not to necessarily understand every thing that is going on, but to get a general idea of what each book of the Bible is about and how they relate to one another. One final note on reading: at the very least you should read one entire book at a time. There are resources out there that will show you how to read through the Bible in a year, but these usually scramble the Bible and don’t allow for an understanding of each book as a whole.

Study

Studying the Bible is where you actually get into the details of specific texts and try to come to an understanding of what a passage means. This is going to be the majority of what I will be writing about in later posts. But, if you want to get into studying right now, I will give you a few tips. First off pick a passage. Select a specific group of verses that makes up one complete thought. You can do one paragraph or one chapter or even one book, just be sure you are getting the complete idea. For instance if you are interested in I Cor. 13, the love chapter, you can’t just assume that because it is one chapter that it is one complete thought. This chapter is sandwiched between I Cor. 12 and 14 and loses some of its impact if it is not taken in its full context. Sometimes, as in the book of Proverbs, the context is just one or two verses. After you set your context that you want to study, read it many times and make note of things you notice. Look for key words, transitional words and try to understand the overall thought of the passage. Ask a lot of questions. The goal of study is synthesis. You want to see how the sub points come together to make up the overall idea of the passage and then make that idea as concise as possible.

Meditate

Meditation is the most overlooked part of the study of the Word. Meditation involves thinking about and repeating the truths of scripture. In this category I would also place memorization. Memorization of the scripture is important because you are not always going to have a Bible handy, and you need to be able to recall the truths of scripture when you are being tempted or attacked spiritually. The main goal of meditation is to think about and ponder the truths of Scripture so that they become part of you. It is allowing your mind to digest them and feed your spirit. This can also be done by praying the Word.

Apply

This is the most important part of the process. Too often we spend time reading and studying the Word, and then when God speaks to us, we take it and don’t act on it. Application has two aspects: belief and action. As you read and study and meditate on His Word, you should ask yourself, what lie have I believed about myself, God or others that this truth counteracts or how can I live differently based on what this is saying. The Bible is transformative, but we have to be willing to allow it to transform us. “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge God with their lips and then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle, that is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

Reflection:

What portions of Scripture have you avoided reading? As you are reading/studying have you come across a verse that really speaks to you? Memorize it! Think about the last message you heard. How have you applied that message to your life this week?

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Comments»

1. fellow Gibor - August 16, 2009

This was really, really helpful. Especially the Reading portion for me and the Apply, and also the identify-the-context part of Study. Some of the times God has spoken to me the most through His Word is where something will contrast dramatically from the context right before it 😀


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