So, what’s a girl to do?...
Join me today over At the Well and let's make a plan for dinner tonight.
I was getting ready for church this morning and received a special message from the Lord. As I sat down my make-up sponge I noticed something on the back of it and heard a still small voice whisper in my ear, "I love you and I think you are BEAUTIFUL!"
In the Word
Today I want to share with you step-by-step how I have studied through James 1:1-12. Before you begin any study of God's Word, spend time in prayer asking Him to give you clarity of mind, understanding of His Word, and a willingness to obey what He teaches you.
1. I began by reading through the passage several times. The more I read a passage the more familiar it becomes. As I read through these twelve verses I made observations of the text. I wrote down things that stood out to me. For instance, all trials should be entered into with a joyous heart; humility is exaltation in God's eyes, etc.
2. I prayed asking the Lord to reveal to me a verse that He would have me commit to memory. For this section of Scripture I memorized James 1:2-4. I use spiral bound index cards for my Scripture memory verses.
3. I made an outline for these verses. Why? Because it helps me summarize and understand the main thoughts. My outline for James 1:1-12-
1:1- James sends greetings to the twelve tribes.
1:2-4- Trials/ testing bring about patience- patience brings about humility.
1:5-8- Godly wisdom is given when one asks for it in faith.
1:9-11- Humility is exaltation in God's eyes.
1:12- Believers who endure trials, temptations, testings, are truly blessed of God.
4. As I read through the text again I began asking questions of the passage. Some of my questions were:
~what is a bond servant?
~what is patience?
~why is humility important in God's eyes?
~who were the twelve tribes? why were they scattered abroad?
Great questions to ask of any text are who is involved, what's going on, when is it happening, where is it happening, and why is it happening?
5. Once I read through the text several times, made observations, an outline, and asked questions I began doing an expository study of the passage; this means I studied through each verse one-by-one. As I studied through each verse I looked up the definitions of words in the original Greek language that I found intriguing. I used cross references to investigate what other Scriptures had to say about the verses in James. I also used my commentaries to help me get a better grasp on thoughts that I might not be getting a good grasp on.
6. After spending several days digging deeper into the first twelve verses of James chapter one, I began asking the Lord to show me practical ways I could apply what I was learning to my own life. It's very important that we apply what we are learning to our lives; we are to flesh out what God is teaching us, not just hear, but hear and obey.
In a nutshell this is how I have studied through James 1:1-12. I use this same method with any text that I study through. I pray this helps you in your study of God's Word. Please let me know if I can serve you in any way or if you have any questions. Happy digging into God's Word.
I've had several ladies ask me lately "how do I study the Bible?"; "how do I dig deeper into the Word on my own?" I can't even begin to tell you how much it thrills my soul to see women with a hunger and desire to dig deeper into God's Word on their own. Why? Because it was and still is His Word that transforms my life daily.
There are many different ways, plans, and/or methods that can be used as guide as you begin studying God's Word on your own. Some, I think, are better than others, but all are meant to be used as a GUIDE. As you study God's Word it's so very important that you allow Him to be your main guide and teacher.
Today, I'd like to share with you what I have found through the years that works best for me. I have taken ideas and formats from many different sources and put them together to use as my own personal "Bible Study Guide."
Before we begin I do want to say that I believe Bible Study and Quiet Time to be two totally different things. Quiet time for me, is a more intimate, personal, relational time with the Lord. This is a time for me to meditate upon Scripture, pray, and journal. During my quiet time I may use a devotion book like Daily Light or a Bible reading plan. Although my quiet times may last for an extended amount of time, I'm not digging in commentaries, lexicons, books, or dictionaries; I'm simply sitting at the foot of the cross allowing the Lord to speak to my heart. For more on how to have a "Quiet Time" click here.
What does it mean to do "Bible study"? Webster's dictionary defines "study" in the following way: to engage in study; to undertake formal study of a subject; to read in detail especially with the intention of learning; to consider attentively or in detail. When you and I approach Bible study we are to do so with the mindset and heart set of literally engaging the very details of God's Word with the intended purpose of learning more about who He is and how we are to live are lives. Bible study is an in depth, fact finding research of God's Word.
In beginning a personal Bible study I first pray asking the Lord to show me what it is He wants me to study through- a particular book of the Bible, a certain passage of Scripture, a particular character, an area in my life where I seem to be struggling, etc. Sometimes I very quickly receive direction from Him, other times it may take several days, maybe even weeks; no matter how long it takes, it is important to seek His direction for your study.
Once I have clear direction from the Lord I begin gathering the tools I will need to dig deeper into His Word. Some of my very favorite tools are:
~John MacArthur Study Bible
~Expositor's Bible Commentaries
~Bible Knowledge Commentaries
~Strong's Exhaustive Concordance
~Holman Bible Dictionary
~The Complete Word Study Old Testament and New Testament by Spiros Zodhiates
And of course you will need a notebook, pens and highlighters, and index cards.
There are many other dictionaries, commentaries, and books that I use; above are just a few of my favorites. You don't have to buy all these books if you don't want to; many of them can be found online for free. I have downloaded E-Sword onto my computer. This program has many different components- most are free, others have a very minimal charge compared to what you would pay at a bookstore. I highly recommend it!
Now, to dig in. Because I have recently studied through the book of James, I will use it as our example of how I dig deeper into the Word.
The book of James is made up of five chapters. There is no way you could study through five chapters all at the same time so what do you do? You go chapter by chapter. When you look at each chapter, you'll notice they contain fifteen or more verses. Should you try to tackle all the verses in one day? For me, I accomplish more if I break down each chapter into sections. How do I do that you ask? Most Bibles have sub-headings throughout each chapter; use this verse breakdown as your guide. I have broken James chapter 1 down into three sections: James 1:1-12; James 1:13-18; James 1:19-27.
Today, I'm going to stop here. I've given you a lot and I want you to have time to take it all in. I pray that the information I have shared thus far is clear and understandable to you. Keep in mind, as you study you will develop your own style and method. Please don't let this overwhelm you. I encourage you to begin by taking baby steps. With each step you take you WILL go farther and deeper into God's Word. Tomorrow I'll share with you step by step what I have done with James 1:1-12. Until then, start now praying about what God would have you study.
"Mom, when can I learn how to make big cursive letters?," my 9 year old daughter asked.
"Your book wants you to learn how to make the lower case letters first. Once you know how to make those, then you will learn how to make the capital letters," I replied.
"21) His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful
servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter
into the joy of your master.' "Matthew 25:21, ESV
"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please
men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ."
Galatians 1:10, NIV
The morning started off without a hitch. I managed to spend some awesome time with the Lord while sipping on a great cup of coffee, get my shower- dry hair AND put on make-up, start a load of laundry, pick up the living room a bit, send hubs off to work, and get breakfast going all before the kiddos woke up- that, my friends, is an accomplishment!
And then it happened- I had a "moment". Right smack dab in the middle of the apple cinnamon oatmeal, I had myself a moment. It appears that my baby girl is no longer a "baby" anymore. Bites one and two of her bowl of oatmeal she took with no problem. The protesting began with bite number three. She, Miss Independence, DID NOT want mommy to feed her; SHE WANTED to do it HERSELF. WHAT!?!?!? But, mommy HAS to feed you, you are my BABY! Oh, no! She would have none of that; she was not going to eat unless SHE could feed herself. Hence, my moment.
As my baby sat there feeding herself her breakfast I reminisced over how quickly the time has gone by since her birth. It seems like only yesterday I was sitting on my bed with some gosh-awful contraption attached to my "girls" pumping that all important milk that every baby MUST have and then storing it nin the fridge until the next feeding time. She had to have me then by golly! Momma was a must! We passed that infancy stage very quickly and moved into the adding cereal and baby foods stage, but she still needed me to feed her with a spoon. Because she eats like a horse and seems to grow an inch every day, we quickly moved onto bit sizes pieces of food that she could get her little chubby fingers around and slowly, but surely, find that whole on her face and shove in the food. But she needed me then too, cause someone had to cut up the food.
Well, now- now it seems that she can eat a banana without it having to be cut into fourths and she can eat whole grapes, which she picks off the stem herself, and she can eat a whole piece of bread and she can feed herself her own bowl of apple cinnamon oatmeal for breakfast. Oh, I think I might have another moment! My baby isn't so much of a baby anymore. ARGHHHHH!!!
So, I had my moment and then I had a revelation. Hello!?! This is exactly what she is supposed to be doing. She is supposed to be growing and learning to do things on her own. She was born to grow!
And so it is, my friends, with the Christian life- we are re-born to grow; to grow in the wisdom and knowledge of God. We are re-born to grow more in love with Him every day of our lives. As we grow in Him our desires should change from needing a little milk to craving more and more and more the meat of the Word.
"For everyone who partakes of only milk, is unskilled in the
word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are
of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to
discern both good and evil."Hebrews 5:13 & 14, NKJV
There were three happy meals; two of them contained the same cheap, soon to fall apart toy found in most happy meals, but the other toy seemed to be new and improved and a must have for every child. To keep the peace among the kiddos, my husband gave the older two the same toy and hid the new and improved toy safely away from greedy eyes and hands.
As we packed up to leave, hubby called the kiddos over to our table, "which one of you are willing to give me your toy?"
"Huh?", replied my son.
"Which one of you will give me your toy?", hubs said again.
As my daughter sat there in silence thinking through what her daddy was asking her, my son quickly responded, "I'm not giving you my toy. It's mine."
Finally she spoke up, "I'll give you my toy Dad," was the response of this 9 year old child to her daddy.
For all she knew, she was giving up her cheap, yet precious in her eyes, toy to her daddy with nothing expected in return. She handed it over; not begrudgingly, but willingly placing it into the hands of her daddy, letting go of the toy she had once thought was the best happy meal toy she had ever gotten.
Much to her surprise, and to the surprise of us all, her daddy reached into a bag, pulled out the new and improved, must have happy meal toy, and placed it into her little hands. "Because you were willing to give me your toy, I am giving you something better," was the reply of her daddy.
Whoa! I did not expect that. I sat there for a moment and then it hit me. Like my son, we all hold onto things, unwilling to give them up because they are OURS and we can't imagine our lives without them. We are selfish creatures, unwillingly to let go due to the fear of being without. Little do we know that most of what we are clinging to pales in comparison to what the Father desires to give us. God has new and improved, state of the art blessings awaiting you and me. The key is that we must be willing to let go of the cheap, second rate toy, in order to receive the greatness of His rewards.
I ask you today, as I've asked myself already, what are you holding onto that is hindering you from receiving God's best for your life? Are you willing to let it go so that you can receive His bountiful blessings?
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and
comes down from the Father of lights, withwhom there is no variation or shadow of turning."James 1:17, NKJV
Today is the official launch of At the Well...In Pursuit of Titus 2. If you haven't had a chance to check it out, you will definitely want to hop on over and take a look- you will not be disappointed!
For today's "Gathering at the Well", the following questions have been asked to us:
~When you read the Scripture found in Titus 2: 2-5,how do you see this playing out in your own life?~~What are your areas of strength? Of weakness?~~If you could set some sort of goal in relation to this
Scripture, what would it be?~