Tag Archives: Bible study

How We Prepare a Bible Study: The Process of LOVING God’s Word

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I want to let you in on a process that happens when writing a bible study (and sometimes even a blog post).

First, you determine your text. In my case I teach with two other ladies, so our women’s minister suggests the direction she wants to go, including some passages that would fit into that category, and then we prayerfully choose where we sense God is leading the bible study. This semester we are studying Titus, and I was not immediately excited like I would have been if we had chosen Hebrews. This is important. I was not as excited as I could have been.

Second, we break down the text according to natural breaks in the text (I know that sentence is ridiculous, but it’s what we do! seriously!). In our case we also divvy out the sections for each of us to teach, and it just so happened to work that each of us would teach three times (making a total of nine lessons for those less math savvy). We also pair a main idea with each section of the text to keep us focused. Because we are studying a smaller book, each section is obviously smaller with only a few verses to elaborate on at times. When this happens, I always think that it will be next to impossible to fill up an entire week of study (after all, you may only have four verses to work with). I am always pleasantly surprised (and somewhat stressed) that I find more than enough to fill up a 45 minute teaching time slot (let it be noted that my last talk was over 7,000 words!).

Third, I go home and POUR over the text. {Notice my picture above? This is an Orthodox Jew copying the Scripture. Do you see how close he is to the paper?! This is how carefully I want to handle the Scriptures.} I read the whole book several times (since it is short, it’s an easier task than if it were a longer book), and then I begin to look at my own sections through a microscope. I look up cross references, the original Greek words, other helpful Scripture references that God brings to mind that might relate to my text. I jump on Ebscohost, and I find articles and books about my passage. If I’m lucky, I’ll even go to the library (Lanier Theological Library here in Houston is a teacher’s heaven) and find commentaries for the book I’m studying. As I’m studying, I’m also praying. In one moment, I’m erasing and in the next I’m rewriting. I’m crying and laughing. I’m staring at the screen blankly, and I’m typing furiously when a deluge of inspiration hits me. I’m nervous about what I’m finding and second guessing myself, and then I’m fully confident and about to explode because I want to share everything I’m learning with SOMEONE. Just anyone!

Then all of the sudden, Titus has become the most exciting book I’ve ever studied. My thoughts are consumed with the ideas from Titus that God has sent bouncing around in my head. Everything that happens every day somehow relates to Titus. All answers lead back to Titus. Everything I read has a tinge of Titus, or some connection to Titus. I’m wearing Titus-colored glasses. And this doesn’t just happen with Titus – oh no, it happens with everything I study. What is more, I want EVERYONE to know what I know, because I want them to be excited just like I’m excited! Because every word that is brought to illumination by the working of the Holy Spirit becomes my water and my food. They become my direct line to my Father who continually desires to reveal more of Himself to you and to me.

THIS is why I hunger and thirst for more of His Word. THIS is why I have a love and passion for teaching what I’ve learned. The knowledge of His Word means a knowledge of who God is and who I am in relation to Him. His Word quickens my heart and spirit for a deeper love for Him. The knowledge of His Word breaks down ignorance and excuse so that when I’m confronted with how to respond to sin or to a person who has hurt me or whatever, I am equipped with the right answer and through His Spirit that can be rightly applied in my life. His Word divides me up, carves away at those things that don’t belong in this child of the King, and it transforms this new creation to conform to the image of His Son.

Don’t be afraid of knowledge. Neither let it be your goal. Knowledge can be the vehicle that drives you straight to the Father.

One final word on the process. I spend all summer prepping for the fall bible study. That means I’m completely stoked about the study, fairly bursting at the seams all summer, and then have to WAIT to talk about it with the bible study group. This is quite possibly the hardest part for me in the bible study process. I don’t ever want the fervor I have felt during the studying process to melt away when I’m giving my talk to the group. I also don’t want it to become too familiar and lose its flavor. I spend hours rehearsing what I’m going to say for each talk. No joke. My husband makes fun of me because of how anal I can be about it! Almost every time God reveals multiple, important points that need to be added or else nudges me to take something out that isn’t going in the right direction. Inevitably I get crazy nervous about sharing my work even though I have diligently prepared for every moment. But in the end, I walk up to the podium to pour myself out like a drink offering, and all the nerves calm down, and God speaks. Somehow I get to be His mouthpiece, and there’s nothing more humbling and yet terrifying at the same time.

At the end of my talk, I’m a zombie. The walking dead. The offering has been licked up by the fire. I have left everything up there with no regrets. And all I want to do is go home and sleep so that I can reset for the next time I get to open up His Word and speak His truth to His Church. And thus the cycle continues…

My Sweet Tooth

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A kid in a candy store

 

I’ve been working on a collaborative Bible study for our women’s ministry this fall, and I can’t get over my excitement about it! Even though it has consumed MY ENTIRE SUMMERI keep going back to the three lessons I’ve written to soak it all in. You see, this Bible study is about Jesus’ interactions with women. We’re calling it Interruptions of the Heart.

It’s really true that you never learn as much from a study until you are the one who has to teach the study. I have done hours of research, scanning through articles and through books, reading as many writings as I can get my hands on. I actually prefer to approach my own personal study times in this way which is why it takes me a very loooong time to get through a passage.

I don’t know how you feel about studying God’s word, but for me, it’s like I’m a kid in a candy store! I’ll have 50 of those Psalms and 4 of those Gospels. I really like these spicy prophets. Oh and can I get a Hebrews to go? Better yet, I’ll just buy out the whole store. His word is rich and sweet and satisfies those cravings of my heart.

This is how I feel about reading the Bible. This is me discovering God.

This is how I feel about reading the Bible. This is me discovering God.

But honestly there are days when I’m in His word and nothing exciting happens. No wow factor. I’ve come to terms with those kind of days and see them as me brushing all that sugar off my teeth. It’s a necessary part of my life to be in His word because even if the moments aren’t always fireworks and eye-opening breakthroughs, His word is getting in me. The seed gets planted, it gets watered, and it grows.

I can say I’ve had a “successful” personal study time if for no other reason than the fact that I’ve spent time with my Father.

Perhaps for you, it’s a struggle to get in the word on a daily basis. I get that too. I have 3 boys under the age of 6. Quiet times are rare. This is another thing I’m coming to terms with. There are seasons in life in which personal study comes easily and often. Other seasons feel like hard work or like you’re in the trenches fighting for even a few minutes of Psalms or Hosea or John.

I say keep fighting, sister! It’s how we get in shape and learn the discipline of perseverance in trying times.

You’ve also got to know that God desires to spend this time with you and will give you the desire to seek Him. He delights in you and loves the look you get in your eyes when you find the treasures He intentionally placed in His word for your taking.

So dig in. Mine the diamonds and the gold. Eat the sweets.

Then watch as you go about your day for moments when the Spirit whispers, You remember when I showed you _____… This is how it looks for you in this moment. Walk in it. 

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 4

The Apostle John said this about the Church. Imagine how God feels about you and His Church, His Bride.

Dust off that Bible and enjoy!

{Also stay tuned for my posts relating to the Bible study coming in September! The widow of Nain, Mary of Bethany, and Mary Magdalene.}