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“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”’”(Matthew 4:4 NIV).
God wants us to apply his Word and let it change our lives, but it starts with studying God’s Word. How do you do it? Yesterday I gave you two general principles for Bible study that apply to any Bible study method.
Ask the right questions.
Write down your observations.
Today, I’ll share three more.
Apply God’s Word. You move from the “what” to the “so what” and do what the Bible says. The ultimate goal of all Bible study is application. In other words, how will this Scripture change my life? We never settle for understanding alone. We want to apply the biblical principles to our daily living. All of our Bible study efforts really don’t have any value if, in the final analysis, we don’t become more like Christ. In fact, you only believe the part of the Bible you apply. Do you believe in sharing Christ with others? Do you believe in tithing? Do you do those activities? If you don’t do them, then you don’t really believe what the Bible teaches about them. The problem that most of us have with the Bible isn’t what we don’t understand; it’s applying what we do understand!
Study the Bible systematically. Don’t just study the Bible haphazardly. You can study it systematically by studying it verse-by-verse, book-by-book, topic-by-topic, or theme-by-theme. The opposite of that is the old dip-and-skip method, where you just open up the Bible and put a finger down where you want to study. That won’t produce the kind of results God wants in your life.
Read the Bible over and over again. This simple tool will change your life. It’s amazing how much you can get out of a passage if you study the same passage over and over again and then come back to the same passage a few months later. The more you read a passage, the more you’ll get out of it.
There’s no better time than today to start studying the Bible for yourself. No matter how you choose to study, apply these five principles, and you’ll get more out of whatever you study.
…And who knows but that you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this and for this very occasion? —Esther 4:14
Have you ever noticed that the men and women we read about in the Bible and consider “great” were all people who allowed God to interrupt their lives and were willing to make tremendous sacrifices for Him?
Joseph saved a nation from starvation, but not before God dramatically removed him from his comfortable home where he was his father's favorite and allowed him to be imprisoned for many years. Joseph probably wasn't planning a life of hardship and rejection, but God took him through those things in order to position him to be in the right place at the right time. But Joseph could only know that after the fact.
Esther was a young maiden who undoubtedly had plans for her future when suddenly, without warning, she was asked to enter the king's harem and gain favor with him so she could reveal the plan of wicked Haman, who intended to slaughter the Jews. She was asked to do things that left her frightened for her life, but her wise uncle knew that God had brought her to this point in her life and allowed everything she had endured in the past to prepare her for a moment of greatness.
These people had plans, but they let God interrupt them and they followed Him instead. If you will decide that you don't mind having God interrupt your life, He can prepare you too, for moments of greatness and use you in awesome ways.
Love God Today:“Lord, interrupt my life for Your purposes at any time and in any way You see fit.”
Joy. It's not a warm, happy feeling you're supposed to have now and then when things are going well. It's much more than that. Joy is one of the most powerful spiritual forces in the world.
Look again at Nehemiah 8:10 and I'll show you why. If you were to diagram that scripture and remove the phrase, "of the Lord," you would find what it's truly saying is this: Joy is strength. The two are interchangeable.
That's what makes joy so crucial. You can't live a life of faith without being strong in the Lord—and when God wants to make you strong, joy is what He uses to do the job!
Joy is not just a state of mind. It is not a fleeting emotion. Joy is a very real force, and the devil doesn't have anything that can stand up against it. Just as fear has to yield to faith, discouragement has to yield to joy.
Since joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, you already have it residing within you. But you must develop it, confess it and live by it if you want to enjoy its power.
Whatever circumstances you are facing today, you can be full of joy. You can be strong in the Lord. You can draw on the supply of the Holy Spirit within you and come out on top.
This was a tree to be envied. Growing on riverfront property, it didn’t have to worry about weather reports, withering temperatures, or an uncertain future. Nourished and cooled by the river, it spent its days lifting its branches to the sun, holding the earth with its roots, cleaning the air with its leaves, and offering shade to all who needed refuge from the sun.
By contrast, the prophet Jeremiah pointed to a shrub (Jer. 17:6). When the rains stopped and the summer sun turned the ground to dust, the bush shriveled into itself, offering no shade or fruit to anyone.
Why would the prophet compare a flourishing tree to a withering bush? He wanted his people to recall what had happened since their miraculous rescue from the slave yards of Egypt. For forty years in a wilderness, they lived like a tree planted by a river (2:4–6). Yet in the prosperity of their promised land they had forgotten their own story; they were relying on themselves and on gods of their own making (vv. 7–8), even to the point of going back to Egypt looking for help (42:14).
So God, through Jeremiah, lovingly urged the forgetful children of Israel, and He urges us, to hope and trust in the Lord and to be like the tree—not the bush.
Father, in so many ways You have taught us that You alone can be trusted—even when it seems like You are nowhere to be seen. Please help us to recall today what You have already shown us along the way.
Let’s remember in good times what we have learned in days of trouble.
Today’s Bible reading contrasts the life of the person devoted to God with the life of one who trusts in his own strength. Jeremiah uses incredibly strong language to differentiate between the two. One is blessed and one is cursed. It’s mind-boggling that we would choose to trust in ourselves instead of God, yet we all choose to do so from time to time. But verse 10 offers hope. It is not what we claim that determines whether we are a tree by the streams or a bush in the desert; it is the Lord who examines and rewards us. Are there any areas of your life you need to ask the Lord to examine?
“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18 ESV).
Studying God’s Word will change your life if you put what you learn in practice — but it all starts with your willingness to study his Word.
The Bible says, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18 ESV).
God has so much he wants to show us, but we must be willing to look into his Word with open eyes.
So how should we study God’s Word? Effective Bible study, no matter what Bible study method we use, has five parts. I’ll look at two today and three tomorrow.
Ask the right questions. Learning to study the Bible means learning to ask good questions from the text. There’s no limit to how many questions you can ask of the Bible, because there’s no limit to its wisdom and insight. The deeper you dig, the more gold you’ll find. Asking questions of the text you’re reading will help you look at the text through a whole new set of eyes. Suddenly, every time you pick up God’s Word to study it, new truths will jump out at you.
Write down your observations. Never study the Bible without pen and paper in hand (or a keyboard if you prefer). When you ask your questions and find your answers, write down what you learn. You can read the Bible without writing something down, but you can’t study it.
Dawson Trotman, who was the founder of the Navigators ministry, used to say, “Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips and the fingertips.” In other words, if you can’t say it and you can’t write it, then you haven’t really thought about it. Even if you don’t see anything in the verse, write down that you don’t see anything. Just the act of writing that down will open up new thoughts.
But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth)…. —John 16:13
When God sends His Holy Spirit to work in people’s lives, He condemns sin, not sinners. Throughout His Word, we see clear proof of His love for individuals and His desire to nurture people so they can leave their sin behind and move on in His great plans for their lives. We never need to be afraid to let Him show us and speak to us about what we are doing wrong.
The Holy Spirit lives within us. His job is to lead us, teach us, help us with prayer, comfort us, convict us of sin, and lead us as we fulfill God’s plan for our lives.
We can trust the Holy Spirit because He knows exactly what needs to be done in our lives and the right timing for it. You might say we are broken and He knows how to “fix” us.
I am sure the Holy Spirit is working in and with you on some area of your life just as He is with all of us. I encourage you to submit to Him completely because He knows what He is doing and will do it exactly right. If people try to fix us or we try to fix ourselves, we often only make things worse, but the Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. We may not always understand or even like what He is doing, but the end result will be glorious. Relax, enjoy the day, and thank God that He is working in you.