Friday, February 11, 2011

Why bother to journal? Part 5

The Bible Study Journal

Like its sister, the devotional journal, a Bible Study journal helps to get me into God’s Word. This journal often generates ideas for future devotional articles or messages for me as a writer and speaker. It also provides a place to organize and categorize my Bible research. But you don’t have to be a writer to benefit from keeping a study journal.

Here are some hints to begin your own Bible study journal:

1. Study by topic

This is a great way to get an overview of all the Bible says on a particular topic or key word.  At one point of my life, I dealt with issues of forgiveness for a wrong someone had done to me. By studying all the verses I could find about the topic, I was able to gain a better understanding of what it meant to forgive and how to work through those issues.

2. Study by Bible characters

I enjoy studying about the women of the Bible and have found them to be wonderful mentors and friends. I like to know what happened to her and find out as much as I can about her personality through her words and actions. Though the bible doesn’t generally show her emotions, I try to put myself in her place to see what she may have been feeling. It helps me to work through my own feelings when I find myself in similar situations. These in depth studies have led to the writing of two Bible novels and many short stories which have blessed my soul and helped me to grow spiritually.

3. Study by passage or chapter

Many Bibles will divide up the chapters into segments with sub headings. This natural division offers a byte size portion of scripture to study. Verses in these portions are grouped together around a common story thread or theme.

This type of study might include the parables, the Beatitudes or the Psalms among many. They are short enough to read and study one portion in a day and meaty enough to speak volumes to our hearts.

4. Study a specific time period.

There are great insights and personal lessons found within each historical time period in the Scriptures. During a time of recovery from some childhood traumas in my life, I studied the stories of the wilderness wanderings found in the books of Exodus through Joshua. Watching how God delivered the Israelites from their slave mentality and helped them grow during that time proved especially beneficial for my own spiritual growth and recovery from the damaged emotions.

5. Study word-byword

This is perhaps the most extensive way to study the scriptures for serious Bible students – taking a verse or chapter and breaking it apart word by word. Studying each word’s meaning from the ancient languages along with its placement in the sentence structure, the context and meanings of words around it can be rewarding, but is time consuming and exhaustive. This was the method most used by Bible scholars and translators and thus bears mentioning here.

No matter what method you choose to use for your daily Bible studies, Always keep  these questions in mind:

- To whom was it written?

- What was going at the time on when the author wrote it? You might need to check a Bible handbook for this info or read the verses surrounding it to get the context of the verse.

- What message was he sending to the readers of his time?

Always make your studies personal for yourself:

- What does this verse say to me about this topic? 

- Also note any questions it raises for future study.

As with the devotional journal, you might want to include a written prayer for the Lord to help you apply the lessons learned from this passage.

The Bible is a living, breathing book! Even in the dustiest, mustiest passages of the law or the endless genealogies, there are spiritual lessons and treasures waiting for those who dare to delve into its depths. Treasure hunting anyone?

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