Today Tricia Goyer shares some tips on how to study your bible. May these tips encourage you in your time with the Lord, along with the free printable!
I love studying the Bible. I’m perfectly happy to have a stack of study books by my side. I could spend hours a day reading God’s Word and allowing it to carry me through its passages.
Of course, I’m a mom of six, including three little ones who usually never “sleep in” after 6:00 a.m. I don’t have time to spend hours a day in God’s Word. Instead, I’ve discovered a few tricks of “going deep” into a topical Bible study . . . quickly!
Pick a topic that resonates with your heart.
Right now I’m under yet another book deadline. It’s a gift (love writing), and a struggle (dislike babysitters, quick dinners, and inner tension that comes with deadlines). It’s days like this when doubts swirl around my heart. “Maybe this book isn’t going to come together” or “You’re hiring a baby sitter . . . again? Some mom you are.” I know these voices of doubt aren’t from God. I need HIS TRUTH to speak to my heart.
One of my favorite online tools is BibleHub.com. One of the search features is “topical” (second search field). I type in the word Doubt in press enter.
Read the first Scripture.
The first Scripture first that came up was Matthew 14:31:
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Right away this speaks to my heart. A prayer escapes my lips, “Lord, give me faith and not doubt.”
Read the context.
Bible Hub provides the context for the Scripture verse. (The “context” means verses before and after the key Scripture.) Reading the verse in context reminds me that the verses we cling to didn’t just come from thin air, but God was doing something for someone.
In this case, Peter had a few doubts when he found himself walking on water!
But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. (Matthew 14:30-32).
These verses remind me that in frightening situations, Jesus is there. And even when I feel myself sinking, Jesus stretches out His hand. It’s my job to stretch out mine and take a hold of them. Jesus wants me to have faith, not doubt. And Jesus is perfectly capable of calming the storm! But . . . it’s the storm that causes me to reach out to Jesus. (<—— Great takeaway for today!)
Apply the Scripture.
As I think through these verses, I realize I am in a “storm” but Jesus is there. I also consider what I’m paying attention to: is it the worries that are pounding me or Jesus’ outstretched hand? I picture myself stretching out my hand to Him.
BibleHub.com provides a list of cross-references that go with my chosen Scripture verse. Here are a few:
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you–you of little faith? Matthew 6:30
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. Matthew 8:26
Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Matthew 16:8
Read additional Scripture on the same theme.
In addition to cross-references, BibleHub.com also provides the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, which connects Bible verses with “keywords” in my chosen Scripture verse. Here are a few that stand out to me:
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand, you save me. Psalm 138:7
So he went to her, took her hand, and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. Mark 1:31
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20
But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:6
Are you encouraged by those Scripture verses and God’s messages of truth? I am!
I start praising God, asking for more faith to blow away my doubts!
If time allows, here are three more things that I do:
1. Read through additional Bible translations.
I love how God’s Word is captured in various ways. Young’s Literal Translation puts it this way:
And immediately Jesus, having stretched forth the hand, laid hold of him, and saith to him, ‘Little faith! for what didst thou waver?’
Take away: Doubt causes us to waver from the truths that we know.
2. Read a commentary.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary is one of my favorites. (It’s also on BibleHub!) I love this nugget:
Christ bade Peter come, not only that he might walk upon the water, and so know his Lord’s power, but that he might know his own weakness. And the Lord often lets his servants have their choice, to humble and prove them, and to show the greatness of his power and grace. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Matthew 14:31)
Take away: The “storms of life” come (including deadlines) so that I will be reminded of my weaknesses and I will turn to Jesus.
3. Share the truth.
When I read God’s Word and it impacts my heart, I share it with others. I share it through a blog. I share it in conversations. And sometimes these messages manage to make it into the books I write.
I’m so thankful for resources like BibleHub that makes Bible study easy . . . and yes, the kids are now awake. Time to go!
Enjoy this printable to help your time with the Lord:
Heart Happy: Staying Centered in God’s Love Through Chaotic Circumstances takes readers on a journey to discover where their true strength, peace, and joy come from—the Lord—no matter what life offers up. Tricia Goyer—author, podcast host, volunteer, homeschooling mom of ten children, and caregiver to her grandma—understands what it’s like to be pulled in different directions with the longing and intention to do all things well. In the midst of chaotic circumstances (which all of us face), she’s found uncomplicated but effective practices for nourishing the soul—because everything stems from the heart.
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