Enhance Your Devotional Time With These Refreshing Bible Study Ideas
As a person of faith, you’ve likely spent countless hours in prayer, in the study of scripture, and in seeking out the Lord’s will. But you may find yourself growing tired of the same old routine. As believers, we must make a concerted effort to keep devotional time fresh and exciting. Whether examining a favorite scripture or reflecting on Bible verses about death that help us in our grief, we can stay motivated by trying new techniques. The following suggestions will help you stay focused and spiritually energized by reading the Bible for the first time or the 100th.
Study Idea 1: Chronological study of the Bible
Given that the timeline of the Bible is quite long, this method will allow you to get a good grasp of the big-picture. Learning about the Bible’s progression in the most linear way possible makes sense. As you consecutively read through the Old and New Testaments, the events and historical narrative flow form a magnificent tapestry. For example, it’s easier to understand the connection between prophecies and the resulting outcome if you know the timeframe of their fulfillment.
Since the Bible was not written in one sitting, overlaps and repeated themes are inevitable. Seeing these patterns in the form of literary unity makes for a good study. The first five books of the Old Testament narrate the creation and the laws God gave the Hebrew nation, while the 12 books that follow detail their history and the deeds of their Kings and heroes. Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel contain the story of Israel’s conquest of Canaan, and the books of 1 King to 2 Chronicles tell about Solomon and his successors.
The New Testament begins with an extended narrative of Christ’s life, witness, arrest, trial, and crucifixion, also called Gospel accounts. Notably missing from this first section is the early church’s growth and the persecutions it endured. So the second and third parts of the New Testament, called Acts of the Apostles and Paul’s Epistles, are the richest in this regard. Finally, the book of Revelation concludes with a summary of events in the end times and a detailed revelation of his magnificent Second Coming.
How to study the Bible chronologically
1. Inductive method
Rather than reading verses and paragraphs individually, peruse through a complete chapter. If possible, do this in one go to see their logical development. Then, closely examine the clues and details within the context of a whole chapter. And then, draw your conclusions about the chapter’s significance by relating them to the rest of the text.
2. Synthetic method
This approach requires more than one reading of the chapter or book to glean all the relevant information. During the first read, focus on the main ideas and revelations. This allows you to fix the chapter in your mind and spot any main themes, doctrines, or significant figures. Then, use the second reading to delve into the historical and sociological details or explore the chapter’s artistic elements like metaphor, simile, and symbolism. Finally, analyze the chapter’s purpose and design to see why it was written and intended for a particular audience.
3. Topical study of the Bible
In a topical study, you focus on more minor themes and subjects. It’s similar to the chronological method, only that it doesn’t necessarily follow the books or events in order of occurrence. To that end, it’s more flexible because you can skip chapters or sections as you see fit. The point is to understand the context of specific topics. This allows you to understand better each part of the Bible and its relevance to our daily lives. Examples of Bible study topics include:
- Marriage and relationships
- Work and wealth
- Spiritual gifts
- Heaven and the afterlife
- Biblical femininity
- Raising responsible children
- The end-times and Jesus’ second coming
Study Idea 2: SOAP method (Study/Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer)
Another way of studying small portions of the Bible is by applying the SOAP method. It stands for Study, Observation, Application, and Prayer. In a nutshell, it entails choosing some key verses or chapters that directly affect your spiritual life. You gain better insight as you ponder and pray over these verses from your perspective. Then contemplate how to use this knowledge in your daily walk with God. The following are the four sections of the SOAP method.
A reading plan or a daily devotional allows you to explore key verses that pertain to your faith. Staying consistent with studying specific parts of the Bible will eventually lead to deeper insight. Don’t jump around randomly, but rather focus on specific passages. Choosing a scripture from the day’s sermons, songs, or Bible quotes will offer inspiration and motivation.
As you study, make it a habit to jot down notes about the passages. Don’t just rely on your memory. Write down any questions that are unclear to you as well as any puzzling details. Ask questions about who, what, when, where, and why. Was it written before or after Jesus Christ lived? Timeline questions like these help you to organize the insights and clarify the import of the Biblical message.
Now that you have studied and observed the passage, it’s time to reflect on its relevance in your own life. That could mean making changes or taking concrete steps to implement what you read into your daily activities. Self-reflection will allow you to see how the Bible applies to your unique circumstances. And when you ponder over this biblical truth, remember to apply the right portions of the passages so you’re not overwhelmed.
Begin and end each time of Bible study with prayer. Prayer helps your sincerity, dependence, and willingness to learn — request the Holy Spirit’s guidance, wisdom, and insight. Ask God to speak further into your heart and walk with Him as He reveals the next step for your spiritual growth.
How to start a small Bible study group
Having friends and family close is always a good idea, but having your spiritual support circle can help you stay on track. Also, small groups make it easier to set up and maintain a Bible study group schedule and offer accountability and motivation. While you might be good at self-study and may prefer an independent learning approach, shared knowledge acquisition and the promise of group discussion can help make it easier to build discipline and form a habit of regular Bible reading. To set up a small group Bible study, the following are the steps to consider:
- Find church members or friends who are committed and interested in starting a group
- Identify a common interest and purpose
- Choose a leader or co-leader and discuss responsibilities
- Select a regular day, time, and place for each session
- Research on which Bible study method will be used
- Agree on a topic or curriculum for the group
- Budget some funds to purchase group materials, food, and print-outs
- Talk to the leader or co-leader about the purpose of the group
Because the Bible is such a large book, it’s best to tackle it bit by bit. The good thing about starting is that you don’t have to read the entire Bible to begin your study. Instead, use these Bible study ideas as a stepping stone to your Bible reading plan. Also, Church.org offers Bible study resources to keep your faith journey going. Whether you’re a new believer or a seasoned Christian, taking advantage of our verse-a-day program will inspire you to read the Bible more often. So go ahead and sign up today!