Monday, April 11, 2016

Understanding How To Study the Bible: Mind Your Approach

When searching for a successful Bible study time, many people will examine time, place, tools and much more, but often we fail to check our attitude.  Why are we reading the Bible?  Why are we setting aside time with God?  If the only answer is that we do it because we're supposed to, then we're not approaching our time with God with the right motive or attitude.

A few years ago, I determined that I had to stop viewing my Bible reading as another chore to check off my to-do list.  It wasn't some act of sacrifice that I was doing to earn favor with God.  I had to make myself see that my Bible study time wasn't supposed to be a duty but a delight.  I won't say that this change of mindset came easily, and even today, I will occasionally find myself drifting back into that bad habit.  But, I can tell you that the Lord has helped me by opening my eyes to the wonder of the Scripture.

I've saved this post for last because following all of the other tips I've mentioned up to this point will help to make this attitude adjustment easier.  Having the proper tools and expectations can make us feel more comfortable and at ease about our Bible study time.  As for the proper attitude, it takes time, but I promise you, it can happen.

For me, it helped to imagine that each time I sat down with my Bible, I was on a treasure hunt.  I was searching for something, even if I didn't know what it was, and in a way, not knowing made the search that much more exciting.  With a more inquisitive mindset in place, I found myself "stumbling" upon curious things that made me want to study the Bible even more to find the answers.  These were things that I read in the Scriptures and immediately went, "Huh?"  But then, instead of shrugging my shoulders and going on with my reading, I felt too intrigued to leave it alone.  I had to find out what was going on.  My curiosity was peaked, and I found myself devouring more verses than I had intended to.  But I didn't mind because my duty of reading had turned into the delight of a treasure hunt, and it was too exciting to stop.

As usual, I'll give you a couple of examples.  In II Samuel 18, the army of Absalom goes up against the army of David, but this battle is unlike anything else I've ever read in the Bible.  Why?  Here's the verse that caught my attention and caused me to study out the chapter more thoroughly:  
For the battle was there scattered over the face of all the country: and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured. (vs.8)  Did you see it?  The wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.  Talk about saying, "Huh"?  That verse threw me for a loop, and actually still does.  I've studied it out, but scholars are torn on the exact meaning.  That's not to say, however, that there aren't a lot of theories.  In my mind, I pictured the trees from the Wizard of Oz along with the trees from the Narnia and Lord of the Rings movies.  Was that the case?  I don't know, but it sure did make for an exciting Bible study time.  I mean, fighting trees?  How cool is that?

If you'd like another example, check out this one: Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. - Matthew 27:50-53

Okay, which graves opened up at the time of Jesus' crucifixion/resurrection?  All of them?  Who were these people?  Why did they go to the holy city?  What else did they do?  To whom did they appear?  And how long did they walk the earth?  So many questions from such a short passage of Scripture.  Do I have the answers?  No, not really, but again, it made for an interesting study time trying to figure it out.  It was definitely more exciting than any movie or any other book.  After all, this was real life.  Spooky!

What it all boils down to is this:  your Bible study time will be what you make of it.  If you approach it with a ho-hum, duty-bound attitude, then you'll have a ho-hum, duty-bound experience.  However, if you approach your time with God with the excitement and zeal of a treasure hunt, you won't be disappointed.  It's your choice, but I think we all know which method would please God more.

Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. - Psalm 119:18

2 comments:

Michele Morin said...

My Sunday School ladies and I were just pondering the post resurrection "bonus resurrections" in class yesterday. Fun to find you pondering it here as well!

Dana Rongione said...

Awesome, Michele. The Bible certainly does give us a lot to ponder.