Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Reading the Bible

Following on from our look at the G in GROWTH we are going to have a wee look at some different bible study / quiet time methods. It's such an important part of your day, so it's worth finding out which method works for you. 

The first method I ever used to do my quiet time was using a devotional guide, such as the 'Word for today' books or 'Daily Bread' books. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with using these, as long as you remember that the words in the devotional (just like the words in all of my blog posts) are someone's opinion or someone's story, used to make a point. It's the way most devotionals and blogs are written - we use stories from our lives to point you towards God. 

But when you want to really get to know God, this isn't the best method to use. What you want to do is get straight into the Bible for yourself, using one of the following methods, allowing God to talk straight into your life. I want to highlight three methods which really are just you and God, intimately conversing. All you need for each of these is your Bible, a notebook and pen, and time to spend with God. 

This is the method adopted by all the Good Morning Girls programmes. It works like this -

S - SCRIPTURE - write out the Scripture you are looking at into your notebook

O - OBSERVATIONS - write out 1 or 2 observations from the passage/verses

A - APPLICATIONS - write out 1 or 2 ways you can apply this to your life 

P - PRAYER - write out a prayer

This one is quite similar -

W - WORD - write out the passage / verses that you are looking at

O - OBSERVE - write down a couple of observations

R - REFLECT - take time to reflect and write down what it means to your life

D - DO - what practical steps are you going to take to put it into practice

With both of these methods you can work through entire books with just the Spirit of God guiding you and I can tell you from experience that it can really change your life. There is something amazing about just spending time with God, leaning on Him and not relying on anyone else's study guide or questions or devotional. 

The final method I wanted to highlight is the Precepts / Inductive method. This is where the colouring pencils come in and it's great fun as well as being a great study tool. This is something you can do on your own, but it's probably advisable to work your way through at least one of the guided studies first to really get into the way of it. 

It works by helping to focus on the passage and the words used. For example, you might read the passage and mark (colour in!!!) all the references to travel in one colour, and all the references to who is speaking in another, and the references to a key word - like faith or love - in yet another colour. It makes you think about the way the passages were written and different things you can so easily miss when you read through it quickly. You learn to cross-reference it with different passages throughout the whole Bible, and learn how to get the context as well as the bigger meaning of the verses. 

I really enjoy this method and use it in between the GMG studies, but I'm not accomplished enough yet to do it without the guide! But I have plenty of friends who can do this by themselves because they've done so many of these type of studies. It really does give you a more in depth study and so it can be good to mix and match between it and the SOAP/WORD study. 

Whichever study method you use, you need to make sure that you surround your time in prayer. On of my favourite things to pray at the start of my time with God is that He will quiet my heart and my mind - I'm a mother so it's always running around in twenty different directions!!! - and that He will reveal His truths and His will to me. And I love to pray this scripture - 

"Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions."
Psalms 119:18

And then I always try to end with a time of prayer, asking God to help me remember what I have read and implant anything that He has shown me. This is a hard bit , because it can be so easy to read, tick it off and then promptly forget every word of it. We need to make a conscious effort to remember it, to think about it during the day and truly understand why we are told to...

"... delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night."
Psalms 1:2

Just in case you are wondering exactly how these work out in practice, I'm going to post a couple of examples tomorrow using the SOAP/WORD methods. 
Until then, keep shining xx 

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