Burn Brighter: 6 Keys to Better Bible Study

Our church is one of over 4,500 that are participating in the 40 Days in the Word campaign. One reason I believe this campaign to spend 40 days focused on God’s word is both timely and needed is because America has a Biblical illiteracy problem.

In the land of the Gideon's, people aren’t getting the Good Book,
but it’s not lack of Bibles that has caused the problem. It could be that there is just too much saturation.

The familiar observation that the Bible is the best-selling book of all time obscures a more startling fact: the Bible is the best-selling book of the year, every year. 
-Daniel Radosh
25 million bibles are sold annually in the US or if that number sounds too obscure think about it like this: 6 bibles are sold for every 1 baby born in the US each year. 91% of American households own at least 1 Bible and the average number of bibles per household is 4. It has been estimated that we spend over half a billion dollars every year on Bibles in the US alone. Perhaps the Bible has simply become too common. Yet all that commercial activity is at least indicative of curiosity or a desire to gain Godly wisdom for life. So if you're one of the 91% who do have a Bible and you are looking to deepen your understanding of God’s Word here are 6 Keys to Burn Brighter in Bible Study.
1. Be Confident
One of these days some simple soul will pick up the Book of God, read it, and believe it. Then the rest of us will be embarrassed. 
-Leonard Ravenhill
Many feel insecure while studying the Bible and instead of studying to gain more depth on their own, they rely only on preachers and teachers for all their Biblical understanding. I’m not trying to down preachers and teachers, I am one after all! But that is like asking someone else to chew your food. Make no mistake, listening to preaching and teaching is great but you need to be reading the scriptures on your own and wrestling with the truths they contain. As Acts 17:11-12 reveals: 
“The people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. 12 As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.”
-Acts 17:11-12
They searched, day after day, to see if what was being taught was the truth. Biblical preaching and teaching go hand in hand with personal Bible study and will serve to supplement and reinforce what the Holy Spirit teaches us as we search the depths of God’s Word. 
2. Be Social
Personal Bible study is great, I start the morning with it every day, but studying the Bible in groups pays much greater dividends than studying alone. When the Bible is studied in the vacuum of our homes and our conclusions are never challenged it is difficult to grow farther than our own perspectives and understandings. In Proverbs the author writes:
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
-Proverbs 27:17
To think that another person’s perspective or revelation is necessarily less than our own is arrogant, an attitude warned of in scripture. I am amazed at the insight children have when discussing the Bible and often walk away from interactions marveling about how God can use their perspectives to reveal truths that adults so often explain away. Studying with others not only exposes you to their view point, it also opens your lives up to each other to see how this knowledge comes to life day by day through your actions.
3. Be memorizing
I would venture to say that more Christians have the lyrics to Beyonce’s Single Ladies memorized than they do Bible verses. 
- Nicole Cottrel
I wouldn’t bet against her on that statement. Bible memorization is intimidating to many believers, but it doesn’t have to be. Building Bible memory is like a muscle, the more you work it the stronger it becomes. You don’t have to start with chapters and books, start by memorizing simple verses and then build on that. 
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 
- Psalm 119:11
There is no better tool for spiritual growth than taking time for Bible memorization. We seldom if ever have the Bible with us in moments of temptation, when the doors open to witness to others, or when questions concerning our faith arise. But if we have it memorized it never leaves us and we can do as Peter instructs in 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
4. Be Open
Some people feel that because they have read and understood a passage of scripture once, that they basically have “got it” and by doing so they often inadvertently turn themselves off to the moving of the Holy Spirit in their lives. You cannot learn that which you think you already know. We must approach the Word of God in a humble fashion, being open to whatever God may communicate to us through it’s pages. 
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
-Hebrews 4:12
When we approach God's Word with our defenses down and are open to His moving and working in our lives we will change. There will be times of pain as God reveals areas of sin and attitudes that need to be surrendered over to Him. There will be times of fear as God calls us to deeper levels of obedience and service. And there will be times of deep and profound joy as the wonder and power of God are revealed through scripture. But none of these tend to occur when we are closed off to God.
Never place a period where God has placed a comma. God is still speaking.
-Gracie Allen
5. Be Well read
The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian. 
-AW. Tozer
There can be a tendency to read only the passages that bring comfort rather than to read through all the passages of the Bible. God’s word is meant to do more than comfort us though. It cleans us (John 15:3), it awakens faith (Romans 10:17), makes us wise (2Tim 2:15), it nourishes us and helps us grow (1 Peter 2:2), it protects us (Ephesians 6:17), it guides us into success and prosperity (Joshua 1:8), brings joy (Ps 19:8), gives hope (Rom 15:4) and it points us to Jesus (John 5:39). This is true for all scripture, not only our pet passages.
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
-2 Timothy 3:16-17
I can attest that reading the whole of the Bible, most of them are usually over 2,000 pages, can be a rather daunting task. That’s why I recommend reading it in chunks or bite sized pieces and to read for depth of understanding rather than quantity of material. 
Some people like to read so many [Bible] chapters every day. I would not dissuade them from the practice, but I would rather lay my soul asoak in half a dozen verses all day than rinse my hand in several chapters. Oh, to be bathed in a text of Scripture, and to let it be sucked up in your very soul, till it saturates your heart!
-Charles Haddon Spurgeon
A good Bible reading plan, such as those from http://www.youversion.com/ will take you on a journey through the Old and New Testaments. If you have never read through the Bible I can promise you there is a wealth of wisdom that applies to your life right now that you are missing out on.
6. Be Diligent
The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.
-Proverbs 13:4
One of reasons I often get from people about not reading the Bible is a difficulty in understanding it.  With the advent of the internet I can safely say there are more free resources out there than there have ever been to aid in studying and understanding the Bible. Here are a few, but by no means is this exhaustive:
  • iTunes U - There are many podcasts of under graduate and master’s level courses available for free download from some of the best schools in the world. 
  • Biblegateway.com - This website provides reading plans, commentaries, dictionaries, audio Bibles and more for free.
  • Biblestudytools.com - This site purports to be the largest free website for Bible verse search and in depth study. They have encyclopedias, commentaries, dictionaries, concordances, lexicons and more available for free as well.
  • YouVersion - Here you can not only read the Bible in many different versions, you can also see notes taken and posted by others in the online community. 
God’s word is a precious gift that has gone over looked for far too long. My prayer for my congregation and myself is that we would adopt the attitude that these two juggernauts of the faith held towards God’s Word.
For some years now I have read through the Bible twice every year. If you picture the Bible to be a mighty tree and every word a little branch, I have shaken every one of these branches because I wanted to know what it was and what it meant.
-Martin Luther
I am a creature of a day. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God. I want to know one thing: the way to heaven. God himself has condescended to teach me the way. He has written it down in a book. Oh, give me that book! At any price give me the book of God. Let me be a man of one book.
-John Wesley


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