Confession: God’s Word used to intimidate me a little bit. I grew up in church and accepted Christ as Savior at a young age, so I was very familiar with the Bible, but when it came to just me + God’s Word, I was intimidated. It just seemed so big to me. I thought I would never be able to understand it. Obviously, I was wrong (Satan loves to feed us lies to keep us out of the Word).
In college I began a journey of really trying to study God’s Word. There were days I would read and not understand. Or days when I would be thinking about what homework I needed to get done instead of focusing on Scripture. Or I would have days (that sometimes turned into weeks) where I wouldn’t read at all.
Many years after my start of trying to study God’s Word, I love it now more than I ever have. The more I study Scripture, the more I fall in love with Jesus and His Word. My desire to know more of Scripture and to know more of Jesus increases the more I get to know Him through His Word. I love the psalmist’s heart for God’s Word in Psalm 119. “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103 (ESV). I want the psalmist’s heart for God’s Word in Psalm 119 to be mine.
This love for God’s Word that the Lord has been so sweet to give me has overflowed to a heart for the girls in our student ministry. On Monday, they gathered in my living room for the start of our summer Bible study.
I was so excited! I love having our students in our home! But I was also a little nervous. I’ve led plenty of Bible studies/small groups before, but this one this summer will be different. The Lord has been pressing on my heart to (attempt) to teach these girls how to study God’s Word. He has put a desire in my heart to help give them a desire for Him and His Word. So, then, I began asking the Lord, “How?” And below are the things that the Lord has taught/is teaching me, and the things that I’m challenging/encouraging our student girls with this summer. I pray that they challenge/encourage you too!
Know that you have everything that you need to study God’s Word in the Holy Spirit. All Christians are given the gift of the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation. The Spirit is there to lead, guide, convict, and comfort us, even as we read Scripture. The Spirit will give us understanding as we read Scripture. The Spirit will use Scripture to convict us or encourage us. The Spirit will shed light on a passage we’ve read a thousand times. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is in us! Don’t forget that!
Read WHOLE parts of Scripture at a time. If I were to share with you my new favorite book, you wouldn’t start midway through chapter 5, read a few paragraphs, and then flip to chapter 1 and read 2 sentences. That would be crazy! The books of the Bible are the same way. The authors of the books wrote each book in the order that he wrote it with a specific purpose. The context of Scripture is SO important. Scripture is not a bag of trail mix. We can’t just pick out the M&Ms! We must read it in its whole. This doesn’t mean that you always have to read from Genesis to Revelation, but we should read whole books at a time.
Read to get to know the Lord. The Bible is about Jesus, not us. We should read to get to know Him better. And the more we get to know Jesus, the more He molds us into who He wants us to be.
Know that reading Scripture is a necessary time of your day. I love the story of Mary and Martha where Martha is busy doing household things while Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus, worshipping Him. Martha gets frustrated with Mary (like many of us would), but Jesus tells Martha that Mary chose what was needed. Martha wasn’t doing anything bad, just like how our laundry, spending time with friends, homework, etc. aren’t bad things, but she was choosing those things over Jesus. When our day ends and we have had no time to spend with Jesus because we’ve been too busy cleaning, practicing sports, etc., we’re telling Jesus that those things are more important than Him. Y’all, I know this is hard! Jesus has really been working with me on this one. I’ve been guilty one too many times of choosing a nap over Jesus. But the Lord so sweetly convicts me of this. He reminds me to seek first the Kingdom. Spending time with Jesus should be just as necessary in our day as taking a shower or brushing our teeth. I’ve never regretted a moment that I’ve spent with Jesus in my day. (One way I’ve helped fight this battle is to pick a consistent time each day to spend time with the Lord. For me, that’s as soon as the boys are down for a nap. I run to my Bible before I can get distracted by cleaning or Netflix!).
Know that we don’t know everything (and we never will!). We can so easily miss out on points of Scripture because we don’t know the historical context or the original language. We aren’t all called to be Greek scholars (thank goodness!), but we should keep in mind that we have limited knowledge of some things and interpret Scripture carefully. We also should keep in mind where there are times when we should study the history and the original language (a study Bible is a great resource!). Thankfully, the Lord does call some people to Greek, history, and hermeneutics, and He uses those people to help the rest of us!
So exactly how are my youth girls and I studying God’s Word this summer? The Lord answered that question for me by leading me to the book of John. I’ve recently studied it, and the Lord brought that book to mind every time I thought of what the girls and I should do this summer. The girls and I are going to read John with the purpose of simply getting to know Jesus.
Each week, we’re going to come ready to discuss 2 chapters. Before we meet, we will read the chapters and write down everything that we can learn about Jesus as we read. We’ll write down things that Jesus says and things that He does. We’ll discuss what we learned about Jesus, and how we can apply this to our lives. You can do this with any book of the Bible! Just start reading, and as you read, write down what you learn about the Lord. This keeps me focused as I read, and has taught me so much about God!
The other thing that I’m encouraging my girls to do is to pray Scripture. After they write down things about Jesus, I’ve encouraged them to go back and use that to prompt them to pray. My prayer life has been an area of struggle, but praying Scripture has helped so much. Praying Scripture prompts me to praise God in ways that I might not otherwise would have. It has prompted me to confess sin, pray for myself/family, and pray for others. I believe that praying Scripture helps us keep our prayers Kingdom-focused instead of self-focused.
I am SO excited about this summer with these youth girls! I really believe that the Lord is going to do great things. My prayer is that God’s Word becomes sweet to them. That’s my prayer for you too. I challenge you to join us in diving into God’s Word this summer. John is a great place to start. There might be days where you don’t understand. Or there might be days where you think about your to-do list as you read. But I encourage you to just read. Keep going back to the Word each day. The Word will become sweeter to you with each day that you read.
I cannot encourage you enough to get to know Jesus through His Word. You won’t regret it. I pray that as you read God’s Word, that you fall more in love with Him, and that your relationship with Christ is deeper than it ever was before. Happy studying!