My experience is that many sincere Christians don’t read the Bible in such a way that connects powerful biblical truth to the realities of daily life. The following is a Bible study resource I use to help people read and apply the Bible effectively as a follow-up to counseling sessions.
“My soul clings to the dust;
Give me life according to your word.”
The apostle Paul says we are “jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7), and the psalmist says our souls often “cling to the dust” (Psalm 119:25). In other words, we are weak and sinful people who need God to give us life through His Word. I pray that what follows will help you interact with God’s Word in a way that truly brings life to your soul. There are four parts to this way of reading the Bible:
- Pray and Read
- Examine and Connect
- Memorize and Meditate
- Trust and Love
Pray and Read
Never read your Bible without asking the Holy Spirit to teach and illuminate the Word to you! Pray these Scriptures and then read the text you have chosen carefully two or three times:
- Psalm 119:18- “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”
- Psalm 119:34- “Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.”
- Ephesians 1:17- “…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.”
Examine and Connect
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:9-10).
Notice how Paul prays for spiritual understanding of the Word leading to living a life worthy of the Lord. Through the help of the Holy Spirit, the goal is to understand and connect the meaning of the text to the realities of your life. Here are some questions to guide your reflection on the Word (adapted from How People Change by Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp):
- Who is God in this text? What can you praise and thank Him for?
- What is going on in my life? What sufferings, temptations, and blessings am I facing?
- How am I responding to these life circumstances?
- What is motivating me? What do I want/believe/fear?
- What does God say in this text that connects to the realities of my life?
- What does this text say about who I am in Christ? What does God offer me in Christ to deal with the suffering and sin in my life?
- What graces do I need from God that I can ask Him for?
- How is God calling me to change?
Memorize and Meditate
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word…I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you…O how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day (Psalm 119:9,11,97).
Choose one or two verses that summarize what God is saying to you from the text. Memorize the verse(s) now and meditate (think prayerfully) on them throughout the day. Pray that the Holy Spirit will remind you of the verse(s) often during the day and help you to understand and apply them moment by moment. Puritan Nathanael Ranew wrote, “Meditation is a great heart-warmer; it renews and increases spiritual heats, drives away dullness and dead-heartedness. Brings a new life, strength, and vigour into the spirit, when it faints and flags” (Solitude Improved by Divine Meditation; quoted in True Devotion, by Allan Chapple, p.208).
Trust and Love
The ultimate goal of all Bible meditation is in Galatians 5:6,13—“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love… For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” As you end your time with the Lord:
- Trust– Express your confidence in his gracious character and transforming Word. Call the verse(s) you memorized to mind often throughout the day: walking from one place to another, when you eat lunch or dinner, before you go to sleep. Let the verse(s) be your continual connection to God and fuel for your faith in him.
- Love– Ask God to make you sensitive and responsive to the people and situations where he wants you to serve in love.
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Questions for Reflection
What is your normal Bible study process? What ideas here might enrich your Bible study? How might you use this with counselees?