Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Diving Into The Word This Summer

I haven't posted a "Works-For -Me-Wednesday" in just forever, but after I typed this post I realized it was Wednesday and I was posting something that "works for me" so I decided to link it. Last week someone commented on my WFMW: Prayer Bible post from way back in December, so that shows me that sometimes when you're prompted to post something that works for you, it can help someone months later! (I know going back over some of the great tips from others that I've missed on some busy weeks... God knows just when I need to read them!)

Today I thought I'd post about something I've been doing this summer that has been refreshing to me. I have begun a new approach to Bible reading, and I just love it! In past years I've enjoyed my Daily Bible, and have loved how it helps me read the Bible through in a year. At times, due to schedules, traveling, and general craziness I get off "schedule" but usually I'm able to get caught up, and I've found that it was a marvelous way to see God's Word speaking directly to me- I would read something in August that profoundly effected me, something that was dated for June, but God knew I would need to read in August! So, the daily, through-the-year Bible was something God used for several years in my life to ground me in His Word and help me become acquainted with the whole counsel of Scripture.

A couple of years ago I read How to Get The Most From God's Word by John MacArthur. In that book, he outlined a Bible reading plan that really interested me. This spring, as I began my usual daily-Bible-reading-derailment during the weeks preceding our trip to China, I was reminded of the method MacArthur described, so I looked it up and decided to try his approach.

Old Testament: MacArthur says, "For the Old Testament, I suggest reading through all of it once a year in a narrative manner (from Genesis to Malachi, no skipping around.) ...the best way to read the Old Testament is straight through, like a story. Don't look for a presentation of systematic theology... simply read the Old Testament to see what it says, to hear the story it has to tell. You will see the unfolding of God's progressive revelation; and you will also discover foundations for New Testament truths that come later.... When you come to a passage you don't understand completely, don't let it bog you down. Put a question mark in the margin and move on. As you continue to read the Old Testament year by year, line upon line and precept upon precept, you will begin to erase the question marks." He breaks it down into about 3 chapters a day (15-20 minutes).

New Testament: MacArthur says of the New Testament, "I use a little different approach. I still keep the principle of repetition from Isaiah 28:9 (line upon line, precept upon precept) but with an important variation. Instead of reading through the entire New Testament from Matthew to Revelation, I read each book over and over for thirty days... The Bible has a flow and a context, especially the letters from Paul, James, and others. When somebody writes you a letter, you don't stop to read a nice line, then jump two pages to find another good thought. You read it through, to understand the flow of thought.... You break the longer books up and still use the same thirty-day system. For example, the Gospel of John has twenty-one chapters. Divide it into three sections of seven chapters each."

His book goes into greater depth about the benefit of such a plan and the discipline involved, and I highly recommend it. (In fact, when I originally read it I read big chunks of it to my kids, too.) This summer I began with Colossians, now I'm in 1 Peter, and I'll be going on to James in August. In my Old Testament readings I am in Ruth, and it has coincided with Nancy Leigh DeMoss's series on Ruth on Revive our Hearts. God is so faithful!

Another thing I have been doing, which has been fun, is to use the Inductive Study Approach as outlined in The New Inductive Study Bible. I first learned this method when I did a Precepts Bible study two years ago, and I love it. I get to color in my Bible! Each morning I get out my box of colored pencils and color-code and mark key words throughout the passages I'm reading. Mainly, I've been marking my New Testament readings, a new chapter as I read the entire book each day. I'm not marking the Old Testament passages, although I've begun marking Ruth as I'm lingering there listening to Revive Our Hearts. (There is a pretty good explanation of how to "mark" or observe passage in this method here.)

Here is a picture of one of my pages from 1 Peter, to show how I've marked it. (You can click on it to make it larger.)There is a list of suggested markings in the front of the Inductive Study Bible, and I have some that I've developed on my own to help me remember key concepts. Combining the methods I learned in Precepts with MacArthur's reading plan has been so beneficial for me.

Are there days I don't get to it? Sure! Are there days I don't read every single chapter in "the plan"? Absolutely! You know what? It doesn't matter! The key is, I'm in God's Word, soaking up His truths, reading them in context and prayerfully applying His profound Word to my life. It's not meant to be intimidating or rigid, but enjoyable, interesting, and relevant. There's no "wrong" way to mark passages, it's strictly what helps me to identify key words, phrases, themes, people, and lists. I'm enjoying it immensely, and since I always love hearing what Bible study methods work for other people, I thought I'd share it with you today. I'd love to know what you've found that works for you, too!

Visit Shannon to read more of what works for some of the smartest women on the web!


ellen b. said...

I've been doing something similar this year. I'm reading each New Testament book 20 times before I move on. It's been good for my sieve of a brain :)

Chappyswife said...

Thank you for your good tips and suggestions!

Linda said...

You always teach me wonderful new things Cyndi. That sounds like a great approach. I've been "bogged down" in the Psalms for a couple of years now. They have ministered to me in such a powerful way, but I feel it is time to move on a bit. I'm using a devotional, but I want to do consistent Bible reading as well.
Thanks for sharing this.

Deidre said...

That is so cool! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I have missed Works for me Wednesday...thanks for the link. Also....I still use that post-it method that you suggested long ago!!! It has really helped me not only keep on track with certain studies..but also it works for a quick reference and prayer list guide. I have bookmarked that inductive link to look at tomorrow. Thanks.

penguinsandladybugs said...

Whoa! There is a lot of information here. I bookmarked it to come back and study how to study...I like your method and I certainly want to study more! Thanks!!! I also went back and ready your prayer bible post! You have great info--thanks so much for sharing!!

Stretch Mark Mama said...

I esp liked the tips on how to read the OT and NT. Thanks!

LeftCoastOnlooker said...

This was great! thank you.
this isn't exactly the way I study, but it's similar -- you gave me some new ideas

Anonymous said...

I have the New Inductive Study Bible. I bought it this year after reading Kay Arthurs How To Study the Bible. Marking in my Bible like that has changed the way I study. I spend so much more time digesting the text. It's wonderful!

Mindy said...

OK - so I love this!
I have been working on reading the bible through but haven't been as faithful as I should.
I am also looking for a new bible as mine has lost the spine and back cover and I need a new one to take to church.
I may have to try this one that you've recommended so I can "decorate". I have for a long time underlined things in my bible but I need some organization so that I know what I underlined it for (other than just sheer importance - in which case - I should be underlining the WHOLE thing =) )
THANKS sweetie!
In HIM -

ColoradoDreaming said...

I LOVE Precept Bible Studies! The first one my husband and I did way back in 1993 was The Names Of God. I loved marking my Bible with those. Precept Bible Studies changed my husband and brought him to a "real" relationship with Christ and he became the godly husband that I needed him to be. Thanks for sharing! Very encouraging!