I minister to many of the young adults and college students in our church, and during this time of being either furloughed from work or working from home they are finding they have a bit more time to invest in studying their Bibles. Perhaps this current disruption in your routine will provide you the opportunity to dig more deeply into God’s Word. If so, here are three tips that could be helpful to you!
1. Bible Reading is NOT the same as Bible Study
Both are important, but produce very different results…
• Can be done in a shorter amount of time
• More of a “quick-connect” with God
• Helpful for refreshment or reminding
• Seems more for our feelings
• Fairly easy – like scanning the ground to find a gold nugget
• Requires a longer time investment
• More of a “deep-dive” into understanding God and His ways
• Helpful for understanding and refinement
• Seems more for our thinking
• Hard work – like digging a hole to find a gold vein
2. Use “SOAP”
SOAP is a simple and easy to remember Bible study structure. It stands for: Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer. As you read God’s word:
a. Identify and write out a Scripture verse or passage that stuck out to you.
b. What are some Observations you can make about the passage? What do we learn about God, people, or something else?
c. How can you make this passage personal? What is something you can do today to Apply it to your life? Is there something you need to do or think differently?
d. Respond to God in prayer. Use this passage as a guide for what to pray. Ask him to help you with your application step, or to reveal more things about this text, or to find ways to share what you learned with others. Maybe even write out your prayer to the Lord (this can help you continue praying it, and see how God answers it).
Often in the New Testament the author will include “hyperlinks”, or quick references to passages in the Old Testament. While we might be tempted to just read right through it in its NT context, we’re actually missing out on the greater depth of understanding to be found in the passage referenced. So, whenever you come across one of these ancient “hyperlinks”, take the extra time to look up the passage it is referring to and read it – but not just the verse it is referencing. These hyperlinks are often just the memorable snippet of the larger passage where the fuller meaning is to be found. Jews of the time, having been exposed their entire lives to the Hebrew Scriptures (the OT) and having memorized very large sections, would have known the fuller meaning being referred to by simply quoting the hyperlinked phrase.