Monday, November 11, 2013

Study Skills

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God 
as a workman who does not need to be ashamed,
accurately handling the Word of truth.

II Timothy 2:15

I have a friend who is my father's age.  He was one of my father's best friends and when we moved to Michigan from Chicago twenty years ago, he and his wife moved up here as well.  When my father died, I have often thought that he suffered more than my mom or myself, because we all had each other but he lost his best friend.  Dad's been gone for 14 years and this friend of my father's has stepped in at various times in life and been a grandfather to my children and even fatherly to me.

As much as I love him, we don't see eye to eye on everything.  Studying God's Word is one of our contentions.  He is a hunter/fisherman/outdoorsman and in comparison, he thinks I am an academic.  Many times he would stop over to help tutor the children after school to find me with my Bible and notebook open, madly taking notes and studying. When I asked him why he never studied his Bible, he said that God created us all differently - some experience God through nature (hunting, fishing, etc.) while others he gave an academic mind (me and my father).  Those people tend to enjoy God through studying.

That all sounds good and well if II Timothy 2:15 hadn't been written.

(Go the verse again.)

You see, studying the Word of God is not just for academically-minded people.  We are instructed to be diligent (persistent, consistent, faithful) in our study (handling of the Word of truth) because this allows us to prove who we work for and it helps us not be ashamed.  Interesting choice of words, don't you think?  

To accurately handle the Word of truth, you need to start by actually handling the Word of truth.  We have been given a precious love letter from God and instead of leaving it unopened on our desk, we are to read it with passion and with purpose.  I know that some parts of scripture are hard, but we have been given the Holy Spirit to help us understand and we shouldn't cower in fear.  God wants us to know Him, to grow in Him, to have confidence in Him and to imitate Him - this all requires accurately handing the Word of truth!

As we learn more about God from His Word, we will walk in faith more effectively.  We will be identified with Christ more easily and we will find obedience more readily.  But even more interesting, we will not have to be ashamed.  We won't be embarrassed because we don't know the One we worship.  We can have confidence in Him as we study the Word, because we know that God is who He says He is and He never changes. The world has many questions about God and we can again cower in fear or step up to the plate and answer their questions because we KNOW the Word!

There are so many benefits from personal study and yet so many of us simply do not do it.  May I make a simple suggestion?  It doesn't have to be rocket science.  Like our gal in the picture above, there is no reason to bury yourself under a sea of commentaries.  Just get a notebook, a pen and your Bible for starters.  Pick a gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John).  Read the first story and make some observations in your notebook - observations about God.  Who is God? What does this passage reveal to me about His character?  Who is Jesus? What is Jesus teaching, doing, saying, etc.?  Do I see the Holy Spirit in this passage - what is He doing?  Just look for God and make observations about Him.

You can really start that simply.  If you want to know Him more, start in a book that clearly tells about Him and make some observations.  Remember, this is not a race. You are on a journey with God - ask Him to reveal Himself to you and then work your way slowly through a gospel - and see God show up in a huge way.

Now if you want more depth to your study, I have provided the links to a series on How to Study the Bible in March of 2012.  Check them out and see if they help.  

Bottom line - just get going!  You've got to start somewhere and I PROMISE you, when you get started and it becomes a process/habit for you, you'll struggle giving it up!  It will energize you, it will enhance your prayer life, it will make you a nicer person and it will transform you into the image of takes effort, but it's definitely worth it!

Remember, this is not a suggestion...really.  We are instructed through the Word to be in the Word and to know the Word and be diligent in how we handle the Word.  


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