Saturday, June 9, 2012

How I Study the Bible

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So often on this blog I talk about the practical, day to day aspects of being a wife, a mother, and a homemaker, focusing on cooking, cleaning, organizing, and the like.  But the truth is that the very reason I have a heart to be a homemaker, and what keeps me going when I feel overwhelmed at the tasks I am honestly not all that qualified for, is my faith in the Lord.  Jesus took an angry young totally-secularized feminist(in the man-hating way, not the equal-rights-for-all way) and turned her into a God-fearing woman whose sole career aim was to be the best homemaker, wife, and mom she could be.  Talk about transformation.  Praise the Lord!
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A cornerstone of the Christian faith is time in God’s Word, the Bible.  You know I love to share recipes on this site, but God tells us that “Man can not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”Matthew 4:4.  My daily devotional time in studying the bible is that spiritual nourishment that feeds my soul and without it I would be lost. 
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There are a million ways to read the bible and there is no wrong way.  The important thing is to open the Word and come with an open heart and mind to what God wants to teach you.  But in the last six months or so I have begun a system of regular word-study that compliments my regular book reading (meaning, reading through one book of the Bible at a time).  Id like to share this with you today.
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Do you ever long to know what the Lord has to say one subject through-out his Word?  Or do you ever feel like the Lord is trying to grow you or challenge you in one area?  Is your heart ever heavy and in need of comfort and reassurance on one of God’s promises?  If so, word-study might be for you. 
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Im a low-tech kind of gal, so for my bible study I use my hard-cover Zondervan Exhuastive NIV Concordance, my ESV study bible (and I usually keep an additional translation, like NIV, around for an alternate reading if desired), and a stack of index cards.  If you are more high-tech there are many online resources you can use for word-study, like Bible Gateway.  But you know me… Im old-fashioned and I like paper!
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The Lord always is faithful to lead me to the word He wants me to study.  The very first word I did was “Mind”.  I was having a trying time with some anxiety and doubts and fears in my life and I knew I needed the Lord to renew my mind.  I wanted to know every thing that the Word had to say about the mind, so I got out my trusty Concordance (a concordance is a big book that lists each word in the Bible and where all the passages that contain that word can be found; its a beautiful tool!) and looked up “Mind”.  As I worked each morning through all the passages in both the New and Old Testament that dealt with what God has to say about our minds, I wrote down on index cards whose passages that I felt were particularly relevant to me, or which really spoke to my heart.
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As time went on, and I began to do other word-studies (words like heart, obedience, forgiveness, repentance, etc), I realized I had a lovely collection going of verses on-hand whenever I wanted a reminder from the Word what God thought about any particular subject.  I needed a way to organize them, so I bought a small index card filing box from Staples and created a filing system.
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I’ve continued on with this as the months have gone by and I cant tell you the blessing it has been to me.  I just finished up a study of the words “daughter” and “child”. You might have noticed in the first two posts in my Scripture Sundays series there was a parent/child theme.  This is what the Lord is teaching me these days… what a faithful Father He is to us all.
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In addition to my word study, I am usually working my way through a book of the bible, sometimes two.  I tend to do the word study first thing in the morning and do the book-reading in the afternoon and/or evening.  Right now i am spending a lot of time in Isaiah and Mark. I L-O-V-E my ESV study bible that my husband so graciously bought me for my birthday last year (look at the gorgeous leather cover with the celtic cross!  Talk about spoiled!). 
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Such wonderful, rich study notes for each book of the bible and I love to pour over them as I am reading.  I am definitely a page-marker… I love to circle and write notes in the margins of my bible and always make a point to write any cross-references that come to mind because I love seeing the way God’s word comes together in such perfection.
As I said, there is no wrong way to study the Bible if you are coming to it with a desire to learn and grow in the Lord, but this is the way that I’ve been doing it these days.  It has enriched my knowledge of God’s word and helped to make my heart and mind at least a little more like my Saviour as he renews my from the inside out.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this little bit of “quiet time” with me and if you have any questions about anything, dont hesitate to ask!
How do you study the bible?  What are your ways of digging into God’s word in a meaningful way?  I would so love to hear your techniques and stories.
 God bless you, sisters!
Proud to be linking up with Saturday Show and Tell over at Cheerios and Lattes and Share Your Cup Thursdays over at Mrs. Olson's!


Andi said...

Great photos. Great testimony of God's transforming power, and GREAT reminder of where my first devotion is to be!

Thanks for sharing!

The Old-Fashioned Housewife said...

THanks, Andi! Im so glad it could bless a few people. :)

Emma said...

I love how God can completely turn us around. Great bible study method. I also prefer a pen and paper over the technology available. (Although that can be useful too) I have quite a collection of spiral notebooks that I've kept notes in but I can see where the index cards would be so much better. In a neat little file in order so I can reference them when needed. Thanks for the tip.


Sarah @ Natures Nurture said...

Nic, I read this when you first posted it, but only now have gotten around to commenting. First off, wow! I had no idea the transformation you've gone through! God really is great! And second, I just love this post and your study method. I learned a few things that will even help me with my own study of the Qur'an :) LOVE the index cards!!

God bless you sis!

The Old-Fashioned Housewife said...

Just wanted to say thanks again for all the great comments here- love to hear how you all study and glad to know I could get the gears turning for some of you about new study methods. Blessings!

Jann Olson said...

Nicole, I am so impressed. I always have such good intentions of reading my scriptures but do not do it nearly enough. I love the Lord and can not imagine how anyone could ever believe there is no God. With all of the wonderful creations around us and blessings that come I see God everywhere. Thanks for such great tips. I WILL do better. Thanks for sharing with Share Your Cup.