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Intimacy with God: Reading vs. Studying

As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue.  Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.  As a result, many of them believed.” Acts 17:11-12 NIV

On January 1st social media was a flurry of New Year’s resolutions.  I want to get in shape.  I want to lose weight.  I want to spend time with God.   While all of these resolutions are noble in their own right, they can be quite elusive.  What does it mean to “get in shape”?  How about “spend time with God”? Most people jump right to reading the Bible.  This becomes their “spending time with God.”  That’s a great start, but I found out that only reading the Bible in itself won’t help you develop a relationship with God.   We also have to spend time with Him to develop and intimate relationship, just as you would take the time to get to know your mate.  One of the ways I know my husband is because we’ve spent time together.  I’ve studied his mannerisms, I know the intonations of his voice, and I especially know his facial expressions.  God wants us to know him like that!  As well as we know our intimate partner. Well, how do you get to know God like this?  The same way you would develop a relationship with your mate…spend time with Him, read His word, study His word, speak His word, and then live His word.   Wait, isn’t reading and studying God’s word the same thing? I thought they were, but nope, they’re very different.  Let me tell you how I learned the difference.

Reading God’s Word
Last year, on a challenge from one of my friends, I read the bible in six, well six and a half months 😉 I was quite proud of myself, thank you very much.  But if you’d ask me if I remembered a specific scripture, especially one I wasn’t familiar with before I read the whole thing, I would have to say no!  But I could still say I read the whole bible!

Reading God’s word is like knowing that Luke and John come after the gospels written by Mark and Matthew.  The kindergarten Sunday school class knows that and can recite the whole order of the bible. But studying God’s word takes things to a whole ‘nother level.

Studying God’s Word
What’s the difference then, between reading and studying the word?  Remember when you were in school?  You had a reading assignment for class.  You may have read every word, or even skimmed the paragraphs, you read it.  But when it came time to study for the test, you had to do more than just read the assignment.  You had to make flashcards, underline or highlight some phrases, look up the definitions of some words, paraphrase the key ideas, and clarify with the teacher so you could know, I mean really know the material for the test.

Well, God wants us to study His word the same way.  Studying the word means selecting a verse or verses and breaking down words, learning definitions, and asking the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you’ve read.  Studying the word, just like studying for school takes time and commitment.

He wants us to know HIM through studying His word.   God had been nudging me lately to study the word, I mean really study the word.  But I didn’t know where to start.  Maybe the resources I found will help you to begin to study God’s word for yourself.

Bible Study Resources

  • Prayer for understanding
  • A computer or smart phone (which you have because you’re reading this devotional)
  • A Bible or Bible App (I like YouVersion)
  • Bible concordance (I like the online version at http://www.blueletterbible.org/study.cfm)
  • Note card or index card
  • If you’re like me and prefer to take notes on actual paper, a small notebook or journal, pen(s), and a highlighter would be nice.

Study Tips

  1. First, choose a verse or chapter that speaks to you.
  2. Write the verse on the card.
  3. Search the Blue Letter Bible Lexi Conc for the verse.
  4. Click on the hyperlink for the verse. You will then see each word of the verse listed, along with the Strong’s reference number and the Greek origin of the word.
  5. Click on the Strong’s number and you will be taken to the definition of the word.
  6. Repeat this for each word of the verse.  You might be surprised at some of the definitions!
  7. Try rewriting the verse in your own words, using the definitions or other words you’ve just found.

Now, take a moment to reflect on what you’ve learned in your journal.  What does this tell you about God?  What does it tell you about you as a believer or other believers?  How can you apply this scripture to your life?   If you’re unsure, and even if you think you know, ask God to reveal the meaning to you.  He will tell you.  Just like your mate, He wants you to know Him.

Try this and let us know how it works out for you. Many blessings!

Tamara & the Great Is Team