My OneWord for 2016 is Present. I want to be present, real, focused, and in the moment. One area in which I can develop this is by being present spiritually.
I have tried a variety of Bible studies over the years: topical studies, book studies, character studies, devotionals, audio, mobile apps, online, groups, yearly, monthly, and more. As we move into 2016, I have narrowed down what I really want out of a Bible study… I want to read and know and believe and engage with God’s Words. That’s really all there is to it. Here are my top five when it comes to how I meet my goals of Bible study and quiet time.
- The key to a good Bible study is a Bible. I currently use a women’s devotional edition of the New Living Translation, and I am hoping for a copy of the English Standard Version soon. It helps to read the same passage in multiple translations, and it also helps to have print and electronic versions. I use Bible Gateway, YouVersion and app, She Reads Truth and SRT app) for iPhone, iPad, and PC Bibles. I have also heard good things about the Glo Bible app and website.
- Everything I read is correlated. Usually, what I’m reading in my personal devotional time is connected with what we’re studying at church or small group. As our pastor is preaching through the Gospel of John, I have chosen to work through the letters of first, second, and third John. They were all written by the Apostle John, and they carry some similar themes. In the past, I have read through the entire books of Psalms or Proverbs, one chapter at a time. I have focused on certain devotion books or Bible character studies. Find what works for you — but don’t just open your Bible and point to a random verse… Unless God speaks to you that way.
- Find a method or format you enjoy. Since I want to read, know believe, and engage God’s Words, I have to use at least four steps in whatever method I choose. I have followed both the S.O.A.P. and Overflow methods, and I like them both. They are encouragements to actually read Scripture, as opposed to reading simply a devotional text with no words from the Bible. Both include a Scripture writing and/or memory component, and an opportunity to dive deeper into the meaning and purpose of the passages. They can used with whatever passages work for you. Here is a free printable for the S.O.A.P. method. Elisa Pulliam created the Overflow method and includes a cute printable on her website. Currently, I am using a combination of the S.O.A.P. and Overflow methods and I am recording my responses in the cute blue and gold polka dot journal in the top photo.
- Mark it. If you’re like me, and you sometimes spend over a week one chapter, it may help to keep track of what you read by using a Bible reading chart. I love this one with the blue-grey colors and circles. This also helps if you are trying to read the Bible in a year.
- Read or listen to another’s thoughts. As much as I enjoy focusing just on Scripture and not being distracted by devotional commentary, I have to say that hearing from a pastor or teacher is enlightening and encouraging. To that end, my fiance gave me a beautiful journaling edition of Experiencing God Day by Day, taken from sermons and writings by the Blackabys. If you’re not a big reader, try podcasts or recorded sermons for an auditory experience. This helps with the engagement with God’s words.
As we embrace a new year, I pray that we would find refreshment and encouragement from reading, knowing, believing, and engaging with God’s Word. Be awake and alive during your quiet time with God.
Most of all: Pray. Talk with God conversationally throughout the day, and it will make a huge difference when you sit down to read his Word.