Great question! One of the reasons our plans are Scripture only, and no devotionals, is because we want you to cultivate a hunger for God’s Word, not mans. Study Bibles and commentaries are a great resource, but only after you understand the passage for yourself. We want to become students of the Word. Jen Wilkin puts it perfectly:
“The Bible is not a book about self-discovery: it is a book about God-discovery. The Bible is God’s declared intent to make Himself known to us. In learning about the character of God in scripture we will experience self-discovery, but it must not the focus of our study. The focus must be God Himself.
This focus changes the way we study. We look first for what a passage can teach us about the character of God, allowing self-discovery to be the byproduct of God-discovery. This is a much better approach because there can be no true knowledge of self apart from knowledge of God. So when I read the account of Jonah, I see first that God is just and faithful to His Word: He is faithful to proclaim his message to Nineveh no matter what. I see second that I, by contrast (and much like Jonah), am unjust to my fellow man and unfaithful to God’s Word. Thus knowledge of God leads to true knowledge of self, which leads to repentance and transformation. This is what Paul meant when he wrote that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).
Women are good at loving God with their hearts. We are good at engaging our emotions in our pursuit of God. But the God who commands us to love with the totality of our heart, soul, and strength also commands us to love Him with all of our minds. Because He only commands what He also enables his children to do, it must be possible for us to love Him well with our minds or He would not command it. I know you will bring your emotions to your study of God’s word, and that is good and right. But it is your mind that I want to engage. God intends for you to be a good student, renewing your mind and thus transforming your heart.“
- Read the Scripture/s for the day. If there is only one Scripture for the day, I ALWAYS recommend you read that entire chapter for context and to help exegete the Scripture correctly.
- If it was a full chapter of reading, then pick one or two verses to write out. This will help with Scripture memorization also.
- Don’t stop there. Now it is time to put your theology cap on. From those verses that you wrote out, pick a few words and search their Hebrew/Greek meanings. Look up words you do not know in the the 1828 Websters dictionary.
Again, Jen Wilkin explains it perfectly, and we want to follow this method:
“Imagine yourself receiving a letter in the mail. The envelope is hand-written, but you don’t glance at the return address. Instead you tear open the envelope, flip to the second page, read two paragraphs near the bottom, and set the letter aside. Knowing that if someone bothered to send it to you, you should act on its contents in some way, you spend a few minutes trying to figure out how to respond to what the section you just read had to say. What are the odds you will be successful?
No one would read a letter this way. But this is precisely the way many of us read our Bibles. We skip past reading the “envelope” – who wrote this? To whom is it written? When was it written? Where was it written? – and then try to determine the purpose of its contents from a portion of the whole. What if we took time to read the envelope? What if, after determining the context for its writing, we started at the beginning and read to the end? Wouldn’t that make infinitely more sense?
In our study we will take this approach to Scripture. We will begin by placing our text in its historical and cultural context. We will “read the envelope”. Then we will read through the entire text multiple times, so that we can better determine what it wants to say to us. We will read repetitively so that we might move through three critical stages of understanding: comprehension, interpretation and application.
Stage 1: Comprehension
Remember the reading comprehension section on the SAT? Remember those long reading passages followed by questions to test your knowledge of what you had just read? The objective was to force you to read for detail. We are going to apply the same method to our study of God’s Word. When we read for comprehension we ask ourselves “What does it say?” This is hard work. A person who comprehends the account of the six days of creation can tell you specifically what happened on each day. This is the first step toward being able to interpret and apply the story of creation to our lives.
Stage 2: Interpretation
While comprehension asks “What does it say?” interpretation asks “What does it mean?” Once we have read a passage enough times to know what it says we are ready to look into its meaning. A person who interprets the creation story can tell you why God created in a particular order or way. They are able to imply things from the text beyond what it says.
Stage 3: Application
After doing the work to understand what the text says and what the text means, we are finally ready to ask “How should it change me?” Here is where we draw on our God-centered perspective to ask three supporting questions:
- What does this passage teach me about God?
- How does this aspect of God’s character change my view of self?
- What should I do in response?
A person who applies the creation story can tell us that because God creates in an orderly fashion, we too should live well-ordered lives. Knowledge of God gleaned through comprehension of the text and interpretation of its meaning can now be applied to my life in a way that challenges me to be different.”
Jen’s above breakdown on how to study Scripture forever changed how I approach God’s Word, and because of that I have grown so mych in my walk, and have an appetite for His Living Word daily. I want this for you all.
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