How I Study The Bible
A while back, someone put up an article in one of the groups that I belong to about the pitfalls of using a read-through-the-bible-in-a-year plan of reading the bible. One of the points put forward is that “starting your year’s reading from Genesis may not be the message relevant to that stage of your life”.
Well, the problem with these sorts of arguments that they try to create an either/or situation. But I think the situation is not as complicated as that.
I personally adopt a simpler approach to my personal bible study. Let me take you through it – perhaps you might catch a thing or two from it. My personal bible study is guided by my answers to these questions:
- Why do I want to study the Bible? Since I am not under obligation to come up with a sermon every other day from the Bible because my job requires it, I am free to come up with a reason that works for me. My reason is quite simple – I want to understand how God thinks from reading the bible. I figured if Moses could do it, I should be able to do it (Psalm 103:7)
- How do I want to study the Bible? My reason is clear so it makes it easier to come up with my “how”. To understand the mind of God, I need to be able to understand the story of the bible, the plan of the writer and how to apply all these to my everyday life. I have three approaches I adopt for reading my bible:
- Read through the Bible: I want to be able to see the consistent story that the bible tells through the viewpoint of different writers. That’s why I like to do a Genesis-to-Revelation read.
- Book study: I want to be able to see how God intervenes in spite of the overarching human agenda during the time when the book of the bible was written. I want to grasp lessons for everyday living through this.
- Devotional study: I want to glean from the spiritual experience of another Christian how they understand and relate scripture to their everyday walk.
- What do I use to study the Bible? I have tried to keep this as simple as possible in order to ensure that I don’t overwhelm myself. For my read-through-the-Bible, I use the M’Cheyne Reading Plan. It may be a bit intense for some (read through the New Testament and Psalms twice a year, and through the rest of the Bible once each year), but I like the variety in the daily selection of bible reading. I use the bible gateway free subscription to the plan and Crossway ESV: M’Cheyne Reading Plan daily audio podcast to keep me on track. Personally, the best devotional I have ever used was Every Day With Jesus (EDWJ) by late Selwyn Hughes. Selwyn literally “discipled” me in my early Christian walk through his writings. I also look for great devotionals within the youversion bible app.
- When I study the Bible? I have two time shifts. During the morning shift, I typically do the read-through-the-bible and devotional study while the book study happens at night. This is usually more for convenience – I like to do my book study using my hard copy bible. There is just something about being able to follow lines with my eyes and holding the paper to my hands.
I would like to be able to say that something mystical happens to me every time I read my bible – but nope that’s not my experience. Some days, I just read through the text without “feeling or sensing anything”. But I don’t doubt the fact that day-by-day, my mind is learning to think more like God would think. We all could do with that as it would keep most of us from our daily panic attacks (Isaiah 28:16).
By the way, I am not usually consistent to keep my reading plan. But I try to come back to it. Most times, it’s not perfection we should be looking out for rather it’s progress we should be aiming for.
So let’s aim for progress in our personal bible study habit