Digging Deep in 2019
by Crystal Steinhauer
This article first appeared in the Winter 2017 print edition of Daughters of Promise. The title has been slightly changed to reflect the appropriate year.
Many of us have had the privilege of growing up in Christian homes and attending church ever since we were babies. We could recite Psalm 23 before we could read. We are liberally doused in the Word of God; and yet, it’s so easy to not let the Word penetrate our hearts and truly change us. Our greatest spiritual growth will not happen on Sunday morning, but in the quietness of our own homes as we let God speak to us through His Word. How do we move from a quick reading, that we soon forget, to digging into, learning from, and applying the Bible?
Types of Bible Studies
Topical studies — Study any topic of interest such as joy, gossip, infertility, child-training.
Character studies – Choose a favorite Bible character or group of people to study. *
Book studies – Study a book of the Bible in-depth.
Writing the Word – Allow God’s word to sink in as you write it out word for word.
Repeat readings – Choose a short book of the Bible or section of a longer book and read or listen to it every day for a month, writing down one observation from your reading each day.
Schedule reading - Use a schedule, such as reading through the Bible in a year.
When you’ve decided what to study, then comes the work—mining for nuggets of truth. It’s easy for me to read over a passage and soon forget it, never taking the time to decipher the passage’s meaning. Here are some tips for digging deeper into the text.
Read the passage in different translations, comparing the texts.
Look up any unfamiliar words—and some that are familiar, but whose meanings may have changed—in the concordance.
Cross reference additional verses on the subject.
Summarize the text in your own words or write out how you would explain it to a child. Meditate. “It’s better to read a small amount of Scripture and meditate on it than to read an extensive section without meditation.” -Donald Whitney
Look for repeated words or phrases in a book or passage. The word “abide” appears nine times in John 15. This reveals a chapter’s theme.
Write a one-sentence summary for each chapter in a book.
The SPECK Bible Study Method
- Sins to avoid – list things mentioned in this passage that we should avoid.
- Promises to claim – list the promises mentioned in this passage.
- Examples to follow – what happened in this passage that you could follow in your own life? - Commands to obey – write out the commands in the passage.
- Knowledge of God to acquire – what did you learn about God in this passage?
Bible Study Aids
Several years ago, I wished to dig deeper into the Bible, so I requested my own Strong’s concordance for Christmas. I used it occasionally, but the mental obstacle of lugging it out of the drawer kept me from loving it. Today, thanks to technology, we no longer have that excuse. I have a few apps I love for Bible study.
Tecarta Bible: The basic version comes with KJV. Other translations and commentaries are available for purchase, with frequent sales making them affordable. They have an excellent Strong’s Concordance add-on. The app is well-designed and features such as note-taking and high-lighting are user friendly.
YouVersion: My favorite app for Bible reading. A real person reads rather than a computer voice (and the man who reads the KJV has a delightful British accent). They also have many different languages available, which is helpful in my efforts to learn Spanish.
Blue Letter Bible: This app has some excellent tools such as cross-reference, Hebrew and Greek interlinear, and translation comparison. I found their website (blueletterbible.org) nicer to use than the app.
ScriptureTyper: a fun, easy-to-use app for Bible memorization.
Pinterest and Instagram have exploded thepopularity of Bible journaling or doodling. You can purchase journaling Bibles with wide margins and markers and paints that don’t bleed through thin pages. But good news—you don’t have to be artistic to enjoy Bible journaling. You don’t even need any fancy equipment. After all, the point of Bible journaling is to draw us closer to God, not to dress up our Instagram page. To start Bible journaling, choose a cute notebook or journal, select a favorite pen, pencil, or markers, and grab your Bible and a favorite drink.
Your imagination is the limit when it comes to journaling. When I was struggling to prioritize my time, I printed a simple table with a block for each of the verses in Matthew. I chose a different color for different activities Christ was involved in such as ministering to physical needs, ministering to spiritual needs, and spending time with family and friends.
At the top of your journal page, draw ribbon banners, frames, or boxes for headings. Draw arrows, chevrons, or squiggles to divide sections. Decorate the pages of your journal with washi tape, colored illustrations, and borders around the edges.
Trace maps of Bible lands and chart the journeys of the patriarchs and the apostles, draw family trees for the genealogies, and fill in time lines for the kings or Paul’s journeys. Draw simple pictures to illustrate a verse.
Copy verses, using a different style of handwriting or a different color of pen or marker for key words. Write the verse on a sticky note and fasten it somewhere highly visible like the bathroom mirror, car steering wheel, or inside a clear phone case.
Use color coding to mark your Bible — such as yellow for commands, orange for promises, and pink for sins to avoid.
There are seasons in our lives when we won’t be able to dedicate much time to Bible study. I just had my fourth child, and most of my inspiration comes from the verse of the day that pops up on my phone or music I’m listening to. We need to give ourselves grace during these seasons.
Bible study takes time — it’s a commitment. But uncovering truths for ourselves and living them out every day will never be wasted energy. Maybe you, like me, will make a resolution in the new year to study your Bible more and dig deeper in 2019.
Three years ago, Crystal traded her predictable life for mission house chaos in Belize. She now juggles the responsibilities of caring for her husband and four small children, being a housemom to three school teachers, and answering neighbors’ calls from the gate. She enjoys hearing from readers at firstname.lastname@example.org