Start A New Habit: Daily Bible Study and Scriptural Engagement.
Daily Bible study and scriptural engagement together form one part of the four cornerstones of the life of any Christian.
2 Timothy 2:15 tells us that we are to come to the Bible as a “worker,” one “who correctly handles the word of truth.”
But just studying the bible isn’t enough. We have to allow it to impact our lives. We need to be able to see evidence of our own spiritual growth.
One of the main reasons so many people struggle in their walk with God is because they once professed to accept Christ, but then never made an effort to actually let Him enter into their lives and get to know Him.
It is through spending time in the word of God that we come to know our Lord and all that He has done and all that He is capable of doing. How else will we be able to claim and enjoy the blessings that He died for?
Listen with your Mind and Heart
When we begin to get into the word of God we must be prepared to listen with our mind and heart.
As we read, we should think about the context, the setting, the characters, the plot etc. We need to learn the stories but then we need to reflect on the purpose of those stories for our lives. If we are continually going through this cycle of studying and reflecting than we will enter into a deeper relationship with God.
How to Apply What We Learn Through Bible Study.
When we study the Bible, we need to begin to apply the scriptures to our lives. This can be done in a variety of ways including;
- Through the various choices we make in life.
- Praying the promises of God over our lives.
- learning how different characters in the Bible dealt with situations similar to our own.
- Understanding the character and nature of God, others and ourselves and learning how to live in harmony with others according to the will of God.
Reflecting on the Bible is Hard
It’s actually very challenging to reflect on scripture because the Bible is an instrument of change.
This is why so many people, like the Pharisees whom Jesus rebuked, are able to study the Bible but live a life of sin and immorality without love and compassion for others.
Daily Bible study will challenge you to change. And we don’t like change.
Change is scary and hard. We tend to want to stay within our comfort zone doing what we like and know.
We prefer safety, so it is tempting to come to the Bible in an attempt to master the text and use it to control and manipulate others, but it is essential that we submit to the authority of the Author and allow the Bible to transform our lives.
A Little Help
For this reason, it is crucial that we partner with good teachers who will help us study and apply the Word of God to our lives.
I highly recommend that everyone should be involved in some form of group Bible study. If you’re a beginner it’s important to have support from other Christians to help you answer the questions that will come up, and if you’re a mature believer you need to be there to support those who are babes in Christ.
Doing It On The Daily
To develop a daily Bible study habit, think about what kind of learner you are. Begin by finding a Bible study plan that lends itself to your learning style. With so many tools, apps etc there’s something for everyone.
Not sure what kind of learner you are
Here’s a quick quiz with 20 questions that you can take to find out.
I’m a visual learner, and I use this information to help me in all of my academic endeavours.
- Visual learners – find a Bible study option with pictures and video ( I personally like The Bible Project)
- Audio – Find an audio Bible series or devotional.
- Tactile- Tactile learners may struggle with sit down bible studies, so try to make the stories come alive. Be creative in your studying, have music available, feel free to fidget. Some will benefit from reading on a computer or touchscreen because it’s more intuitive to their sense of touch.
Think about the environment in which you do your best work.
Some people are social learners and will benefit from group discussions.
Others are solitary learners and need a quiet space in which to study alone.
There’s no right or wrong way to do this, what’s important is that you find what works best for you and do it daily. You might not be able to meet with your group on a daily basis, but you can join facebook groups or online communities where you can chat and share comments. And if you are a solitary learner who does not enjoy group Bible study, go over the readings in advance on your own and prepare your points so that you will be ready to contribute later.
Set Some Goals
As with any habit, it’s important to S.M.A.R.T goals.
Choose a specific goal. Not some vague ambiguous idea.
What exactly are you going to read?
- Bad example – “I’m going to read the Bible”
- Good example- I’m going to read the Book of Ruth in February and join the ladies Bible study group on Love.
Decide upon a certain number of verses or chapters that you want to read each day. Track your efforts.
Choose a goal that you can achieve. While it might be nice to read the Bible in original Hebrew and Greek, it’s not currently attainable, since it would require you to learn both Hebrew and Greek.
Have realistic goals that you know you can achieve. It’s great to have ambitious goals but break it down into small steps. Maybe you want to read the whole Bible cover to cover in a year. Great. Start by reading the first 5 books of the Bible in a month.
Just like if your goal was to run a marathon, you wouldn’t go out and start running 5 k the first day. Because if you did you’d hurt yourself and likely give up. The wise thing to do would begin walking every day, then after a week, start adding in some jogging for two to three minutes at a time and slowly work your way up to being able to run for mile after mile without stopping.
Giving yourself a deadline makes goals so much more powerful. Without them, you’ll easily fall behind on your own schedule and soon forget you ever had a goal to begin with. Create a time frame in which you will have completed certain chapters, books or sections of the Bible. There are many Bible Plans created already that will help you do this.
A Few More Tips
Choose a time that works for you.
Find a time when you can commit your full attention to your bible study. A lot of people aspire to wake up and enjoy their first 60 minutes with God. And if you can do that, Awesome! But many people (myself included) have small children to feed, and other urgent things to take care of as soon as we open our eyes and Bible study first thing in the morning just doesn’t work. That’s okay. Find a time that works for you! Maybe that’s after the kids go to school or are off to bed. Maybe it’s during your coffee break or your commute to work.
Choose a book chapter or topic that interests you
Too many people try to just force their way through the bible cover to cover, but get bored and quit. Unless your an avid reader by nature and you devour almost anything in print, reading your Bible regularly is likely going to present some challenges. Until you’ve developed a solid and unshakable habit choose books and topics of the Bible that interest you. It’s okay to jump around in the bible. Maybe you start with the Book of John because that’s where everyone tells you to start, but then you’re curious about the creation story and the whole garden of Eden scene makes you want to learn about revelations. That’s okay.
Some people will say that if you jump around the Bible like that you’ll get confused. Honestly, I think it’s better to be confused and engaged then bored and quit. If you’re hopping around, try to write down your questions and have someone available with whom you can discuss.
Make it part of your daily routine.
In order to ensure that it’s part of your daily routine, you’ve got to plan for it. Invest in a copy of the Bible that you can understand. In your first language if possible. There are no bonus points for struggling through the KJV instead of the easier NIV.
Keep your Bible, notebook, pen and high lighter handy. Even if you’re doing Bible studies primarily through an app, take time to highlight key verses in your physical Bible and make notes in your notebook. This will help you to remember what you’re learning.
Make it consistent but flexible
Life happens! Despite your best efforts kids will get sick, tires will go flat, events will come up and your plans for the day will go out the window. Don’t beat yourself up. God wants us to read the Bible so that we can have a relationship with us. When your plans go south, just do what you can to catch up and continue on the next day as planned.
If you know that there’s going to be a disruption to your usual study time try to plan around it. Most importantly, don’t let one or two days derail all your effort. Make every effort to get back on track as soon as possible.
Establish a bible study space. Or two.
Find your own little corner of the world in which you can meet with God through His word. Do what you can to make that space special. Get good lighting. Have music ready if that helps you. Keep the space organized and do what you can to eliminate distractions. Have everything you need ready to go.
If you’re planning to study at the kitchen table your plans will fail if it always involves clearing dishes, removing kids projects and sorting through bills and mail first.
Let your family/roommates know that you do not want to be disturbed when you’re reading your bible. Establish your boundaries and don’t feel guilty about enforcing them.
Get rid of distractions. Turn your phone and the TV off.
If you think of something distracting, keep a notepad handy and write it down. Then immediately go back to focusing on your Bible study.
Set a timer. Begin with short sessions at first. Focus for just 5 minutes at a time. When the timer goes off get up and move around for 2 minutes and then set it for another 5 minutes. Over time increase the duration of your focused study.
Get a good rest.
The Bible is well known for making people drowsy so do what you can to set yourself up for success. God designed us with a need to sleep, so get the sleep you need at night so you won’t be tempted to snooze as soon as you open your bible. Also, avoid trying to study after a heavy meal or try taking a brisk walk beforehand.
Review your efforts
Set aside time to review whether or not you’ve achieved your goals. If you have, celebrate your accomplishments. You’ve done something special and there’s nothing wrong with taking joy and pleasure in completing a Godly task. If you’re struggling to achieve your goals look at what needs to change and what improvements you can make
This is a lifelong habit so it’s worthwhile to invest the time it takes to make this habit stick.
When you have established this cornerstone habit in your life you will be able to use the same skills to learn and study anything else in life as well.
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