In the three previous videos in our series, we have covered three of the four key areas we must pay attention to when beginning or improving Bible study within our own lives. I call the group of these four areas of focus the four foundation stones of great Bible Study.
Up to this point, we have picked a great time to study, we have chosen a great place to study in, and we have decided on a great Bible translation and whether we will use any additional supporting materials to help us study.
In this video we will be looking at the last foundational stone, and this stone blends three different elements together to form a basic, though complete, picture of worship to God.
Each time we open our Bible to study, we are entering into worship, and it is helpful for us to bring three additional elements from Godly worship into our study experience.
The first thing we must bring into our study time is prayer, and lots of it. Really, our study time should become a dialog between us and God, with Him speaking to us through His Word, and us reflecting and talking back to Him with what we have learned.
With our study time being a dialog, we still should include prayer as a defined part of it. As we prepare our minds and hearts for studying the Bible, we should pray, and when we close our study time we should pray again. This may begin to feel like one long dialog as the elements in our study blend together, however the opening and closing prayers are a place where we can frame our study time to help it have an impact on our lives.
The opening prayer is to be used to share things that are on our hearts with God. If something is bothering us, we should symbolically and emotionally give the problem to Him. He is able to handle everything that is troubling us, and He can bring peace into our lives.
Our opening prayer should close with a request for the Holy Spirit to teach us and impress us with what God wants us to learn in the verses that we read. Remember that this isn’t a reading plan where we try to rush through a defined block of scripture, but instead it is reading while looking and listening for insights that are new and from God.
Our closing prayer after studying should be a prayer of thanks to God for what He has shown us, and a request for help applying it into our lives.
The second piece of worship that we should bring into our study time is the expectation that God will meet us in the verses that we read. It does us no good to open our Bibles and then tune out what God might want to share with us.
This expectation is what has lead me to some profound insights in some unlikely places, including in the genealogy of Jesus that is found in Matthew 1 and Luke 3.
Mixed in with expectation is an open mind to learn new things. If we are closed to new ideas in our lives, then we are telling God that we are unwilling to learn from Him and when we are unwilling to learn, He is not likely to try to teach us.
We can come to Bible study with the idea of simply validating what we already know and believe (and I have done this), but when we are closed to learning anything new, or when we believe we have already learned all there is to know about the Bible, we cannot be inspired by the Bible, and our lives will not be transformed.
There were religious teachers while Jesus was on earth who knew the scriptures exceptionally, however with all their knowledge and information, they were closed to Jesus, the One who their scriptures pointed to. They were blind to the idea that the scriptures could be viewed differently than their belief preferences, and they ended up missing Jesus.
Without the expectation and willingness to learn new things from the Bible, we cannot expect to gain a blessing from our time in the Bible, and when we don’t feel good about our time in the Bible, we grow discouraged with God and are tempted to put our Bibles back on the shelf, to only sporadically take them off ever again.
God wants so much more for us, and our openness, our willingness to learn, and our expectation when we open the Bible gives God the opportunity to transform our lives . . .
This leads us to the third piece of worship we should bring into our study time: specifically action. We must do something with what we have learned when studying the Bible. If we don’t put what we learn into practice, then we will grow calloused to what the Bible and the Holy Spirit are trying to teach us, and as we grow calloused, the Holy Spirit’s voice on our hearts will grow fainter and fainter. What started as a still, small voice can end up in complete silence, leading us into discouragement.
Instead, ‘worship’ is linked to the concept of ‘work’ and work always involves some type of action. While studying might sometimes feel like a ‘chore’, we are really focusing on what we can do in our lives with the truth that God shares with us.
If we begin to dread opening the Bible, then something is wrong. If our Bible study has become boring, then it is time to choose better supporting materials, a different place or topic to look at, and/or we need to reignite our expectation that we will learn something new in the passages we are studying.
However if we begin to dislike our Bible study time because God is bringing up things from our past that we would rather keep locked away, this is God telling us that we need to resolve these issues to continue our growth toward Him.
There is nothing worse for us to decide than to reject God when He tries to help us move forward when resolving issues from our past. Often, He knows these things are locking our hearts, and He wants to free us from the trap we are in. He wants to bring peace and joy back into our lives, and while the past is locking us down, we cannot become the people we were made to be.
Let me share a personal example. Several years ago, before even meeting my wife-to-be, my heart was locked and I struggled with anger and bitterness. There was a lot of work needed in my life for me to even be ready to be a husband, and because of this, I know that God actually kept my wife and I apart while He lead me through healing.
Looking back on the situation, there were more than a dozen possible times that I could have met her, however it wasn’t until after my own personal life transformation, did we meet, fall in love, and I was able to support her, and walk with her, through her own transformation and healing. Had we met at any other time, I would not have been ready, and the doors would have likely never opened.
This is why it is so important to always be open and willing to resolve pain that we have tried to bury in our past. The past will not ever go away until we are truly free from the emotions and pain that we experienced in it. While my wife and I shared some of the same pain points while growing up, we also have many unique experiences where we cannot relate with each other.
This is how it is with everyone, whether you are married or not. However, with marriage especially, resolving the past emotional baggage is definitely important, and Jesus is the only way to experience this healing. This is why action is so important and why we must be willing to resolve the things God brings back into our memory.
I know that God is not finished with me yet. I know there is still pain in my heart that we will resolve together, but I know that it is up to me to act on what God has shared with me as I have studied His Word.
As I have studied, I have become more convinced of the need for a better template for Bible study. Too much of what is available now focuses on growing one’s intellectual knowledge, and much of it is denominationally biased and criticizing of any that varies from a certain set of beliefs. I have struggled with trying to find studies that I can really trust — because what I have found up to this point has fallen short.
Growing one’s intellectual knowledge is OK, but it misses the point of having a relationship with God, and having a restored relationship with God is the whole point of the Bible. The only way we can gain this relationship is through what Jesus made available for us through His death on the cross.
Seeing this gap between what we have available and what is needed has pushed me to develop a new type of Bible Study that I want to share with you. Reflective Bible Study includes some intellectual pieces, but it primarily focuses on opening our hearts to God.
In 2006, I began developing the Reflective Bible Study method to use in my own study time. In 2007, I began working on sharing and creating additional studies for use within my local church’s small groups, and in 2010, I brought this study method and framework online. What you see here, is a direct result of me taking action through continued connection and relationship with God.
In the next video, I will share with you the entire five part framework for Reflective Bible Study, and give you everything you need to know to implement this style of Bible study in your own life. I have already shared the four foundation stones with you, and now I want to go further and share Reflective Bible Study with you too!
Before continuing to the next video, please leave any comments, questions, or other thoughts while they are still fresh in your mind below by expanding the comments section right under this video. Using the comment box, you’ll be able to let me know what you thought of this video, and in case I missed anything that I should have shared, you can add it in the comments for all to read!
In addition to any other comments, would you answer the following response question: How are you planning to bring worship into your study time? Sharing your thoughts and ideas on bringing worship into our Bible study time is very helpful for those who are new to Bible study!
Thank you in advance for sharing.
I’m really excited about sharing the Reflective Bible Study method with you. After leaving your comments below, be sure to watch the next video. Reflective Bible Study could be the study method your spiritual life has been missing!