I personally believe that there are many wonderful ways to study the Word of God; reading the bible on your own, intimately with the Lord is the most important way to read the bible. It will allow for more spiritual growth within you and the Holy Spirit speaks on a more personal level. But today, I want to talk about bible study when it comes to having fellowship with other believers and growing together as well.
When I was a freshman in high school, I went to a high school girls bible study. During the course of this bible study, we all had a specific way of reading the Word and then discussing it with each other and I really wanted to share with the you outline we used. It was so effective and I believe that it truly helped me break down the passage we read to further my understanding.
When we did this study, it was broken up into three different categories; Scripture, Observation, and Application. So although I dont really have any context to use, I thought I would grab a passage from what I was reading last night and share that with you in the way of using the study outline. There will also be an explanation added to each category to help give a little more information. Something that really helped me look at what we were doing was when our study leader really went through and explained what each category was for.
Scripture. In this section of the study, it is very important to write down word-for-word the passage of scripture that is being studied. Not only does it help with memorization, but when looking back on the study, you have a direct source of scripture. Now, it is very important not to paraphrase or change the Word at all. You are really just trying to document what it is in the bible that you are learning and allow the scripture to be more evident. As an example, I will use the passage that I was reading last night: Psalms 130:1-8.
Scripture ~ Example. Psalms 130:1-8, “Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.”
Observation. After writing down the scripture, what I would do is read it through a few times in order to ask certain questions and observe what the Lord is communicating through the passage. Now this does not necessarily mean that you are only looking for personal connections, although they are very important. A lot of the times, especially in the Old Testament, there is information that cannot be fully understood without further investigation. This section is mostly used for questions and answers. After reading the passage, you ask multiple questions about what has been read and then take the time to search for the historical and biblical answers.
Observation ~ Example. What is the Lord communicating? Are there warnings, principles, instruction? What does it mean when it refers to Israel? Where were they at in their walk with the Lord? What is the overall message being shown here? I believe the Lord is communicating our need to wait on Him and His faithfulness to see us through. Verse 5 says “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” This shows the intent decision to wait and trust in God and then at the end of the passage, it says “He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” Cause and effect. (This is also where I would research the definition, synonyms, and antonyms for certain words that stand out to me. Such as “wait” and “redeem”.) The overall theme here is waiting and redemption. Instruction to wait on Him, on His direction and Word. Israel during this time had been going back and forth with the Lord. Living to serve Him wholeheartedly and then serving only themselves. But the grace of the Lord is there when we find ourselves repentant and surrendering of our will to His.
Application. This is where the self-evaluation comes into play. You ought to ask yourself the deep questions; only you and the Lord truly know what is going on in every part of your life. This allows you to dive even deeper into the scripture. I usually ask very vague and broad questions to start, and then I slowly get deeper and deeper with every application. Here is the opportunity to ask the Lord to show you how this passage can be used to further your walk and strengthen your relationship with Him.
Application ~ Example. How does this passage apply to my life? What is the Lord trying to speak to my heart where I am right now? How does the light of truth presented here provide a way for me to live differently? Am I truly waiting on the Lord to guide my life? Like Israel, am I crying out to the Lord in humility and brokenness, ready for Him to lead me? Am I able to recognize the fact the I am in need of a redeemer, a Savior? That there is nothing I can do to save myself from sin and destruction?
Again, these are just examples, so they will definitely vary by person and passage. There are some passages that I find myself writing pages on, getting into very detailed and deep questions and often find myself answering them on paper as well. Other times, it is very informational and something that is important to know historically and as biblical content. The most important thing that I have found about this entire bible study outline is prayer; praying before the study starts and praying after in closing. And especially at the end of the study, it is important to turn the verses into prayer if possible. Especially in verses like the passage used as an example today. Something we should remember is to allow the Holy Spirit to lead the study. Yes, having a bible study leader is almost critical, just to keep things from becoming too chaotic. But that leader should genuinely be seeking the guidance of the Spirit and should be looking out for the spiritual welfare of those in the study.
A verse I almost always think of when doing a bible study or small group gathering that is centered around the Lord is Matthew 18:20, which says “Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” I believe that it is crucial for us to read the Word and pray on our own, because the relationship we have with the Lord is very intimate, very personal. That should be our top priority, but it is also so important to have fellowship and communion with other believers. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 is a very good representation of why it is so important to be able to have times like bible study or just fellowship with one another in Christ.
I pray that this was encouraging to you. Please know that I did not come up with this lay out, but I have personally used and experienced how beautifully it works and thought it would be wonderful to share with you all. Also, I am thinking about changing my blog days from every 3 days, to Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Things have been very chaotic and these are the days that I believe will be the best to post. Still three times a week, but I want to try and have set days. If you have any advice or thoughts, please feel free to comment or email me! I would love to hear what you think about that! Thank you all so much for taking the time to read the blogs i post and for being so patient with me this week. God bless!!