I prayed long and hard about the next book I would write. As I did, God began to unfold the idea of a series of books just for girlfriends like us. It wouldn’t be just one book, but a set of books, based on the Bible. They would sound more like a conversation over coffee than a sermon. We would laugh and cry together, but in the end we would fall deeper in love with Jesus through his Word, not mine.
I want to put a small disclaimer here. I am not a theologian or even a seminary graduate. I’m simply a girl who has a passion for studying God’s word and I’ve been doing it for almost 30 yeas. My new series is not a commentary of the Bible. It is not comprehensive. I couldn’t possibly cover every detail in every book if the Bible. The Girlfriends’ Guide to the Bible series is just that, a guide. My greatest prayer is that when you finish book one Is Jesus Worth It? you will want to investigate on your own.
With this in mind, It occurred to me that you might be interested in knowing how I approach Bible Study and what my time in the Word looks like
Pick a book of the Bible and stick with it.
One of the best pieces of advice I received about studying Scripture was to “Spend a year in a book and let a book spend a year in you.” A year may seem like a very long time to read and study one book of the Bible. I understand. But time and time again I have realized that if I really saturate myself with one book for a long period of time, I grasp the message so much better. For example, I started studying Hebrews in October 2015 and did not start writing Is Jesus Worth It? until the following summer. I then promptly went back to the beginning of the book and re-studied all of my notes from the past 8 months. I stayed put until I turned in my manuscript almost one year to the day I started studying Hebrews.
I know you may not have a full year to give to studying one book of the Bible. I would encourage you to linger with God over His Word for as many days as you can. Don’t rush it. Let it dig down deep into your life.
FYI: My favorite translation of Scripture to study from is the ESV. I also use other word for word translations. You can find a list over here on my Tool Kit page. I enjoy reading modern day translations as well, and often use them when I speak or write for their readability. But my study is primarily from the ESV.
Take a Look at the Bigger Picture
When I start my study I spend quite a bit of time simply reading the text. My goal is to read the entire book several times through before I start looking at specific chapters and verses. I might make a few notes as I read, but usually I just enjoy reading it. Next, in order to get a better idea of the big picture, I look at the background of the book. Including:
Who wrote it?
Was there a specific audience? If so who were they? Where were they?
When was it written?
Why was it written?
What was going on at the time? Anything significant in the history, time, or place?
Are there other books connected to this one? (For example The Prison Letters written by Paul can be looked at for similar themes)
Often times you can simply look in your Study Bible for these details. But we also have the blessing of great online resources we can use too. I have created a Tool Kit of resources I use right here I will be updated this from time to time!
Dig In Deeper
Whether I’m studying and entire book or a specific passage, I use the same method of study. Over the years I have used many different techniques but they all come down to studying line by line, verse by verse, and word by word. I decided to create my own method of study, drawing on my experience and what worked for me. It is called the LIFE Bible study Method. You can sign up for a free email series that walks you through this method or read about in my new book.
LIFE is an acronym:
L: Listen (What does it say?)
I like to write out the Scripture I’m studying. Sometimes I diagram it (old school grammar style) and sometimes I put it in my own words.
I: Investigate: (What does it mean?)
I look at context, find key words, perform Greek and Hebrew word study,find cross-references, and consider geography. Only after I’ve studied on my own do I consult commentaries or outside sources.
F: Face to Face: (Worship)
This involves worship, gratitude, and prayerful conversation
E: Experience in Real Life: (Application)
Do I need to dwell on a verse? Commit it to memory? Can I discover and action I need to take or has God revealed a truth I need remember? This part is all about application.
One Step Further
As a a Bible teacher, author, and speaker I often will take my study one step further and find a way to communicate what I’ve learned to others. One of my passions is to write through passages of Scripture and this is one reason I am so excited about The Girlfriends’ Guide to the Bible. It is a lofty goal, but God willing, I’m committed to adding more books to the series. I have learned in my own life being able to explain what God is teaching me to others makes it truly a part of my everyday life. Maybe for you that is talking it over with a friend over coffee or telling your kids what you are learning. Or perhaps, you want to use fancy pens and make a gorgeous piece of art in your Bible Journal. The possibilities are endless!
I am not an expert. I am always a student of God’s Word first. Please do me a favor. When you read one of my books, have your Bible nearby. Maybe you have a 20 year old Bible or a new one with lovely pictures and wide margins for journaling. Or perhaps you are using your smartphone or iPad as you read. Whatever works for you is fine. I want you to look up the verses I mention and read them for yourself. Study them. Dig deeper. Don’t take my word for it.
Just remember to keep the “guide” in “Girlfriends’ Guide” in mind. And know that I’m praying for you.