It’s one of those perfect evenings. I can sit on our front porch as the sun sets and hear the birds as they start to sing their lullabies. There is a cool breeze that rustles the tree branches and provides just enough relief from the already present humidity in the air. It’s officially Spring in New Jersey. The rain, which lasted far too long, has seemed to subside and flowers are popping up everywhere. Winter is in our rear view mirror and plans of summertime fill our thoughts.
Spring, a great time for digging deeper.
I had the privilege of attending the recent Sunday Morning Class for women at church that was led by Christi Scarpa. In that class we studied Jen Wilkins book, Women of the Word. And as I ponder new beginnings, I want to share with you how this class equipped me with new tools and encouraged me greatly in my personal quiet times with the Lord.
Now men, stick with me here. Just because this book is titled, Women of the Word, it does not mean that it’s not applicable to men as well. It’s reading the Bible. You can’t get more inclusive than that.
I’m not sure what your Bible reading plans have looked like through the years. Maybe they are non-existent, or maybe you flip the Bible open and read whatever verse stands out to you. Maybe you follow a strict reading plan, or maybe you fall somewhere in between. The ladies in our Sunday morning class fell all across the spectrum, and yet in her book, Jen laid out some clear guidelines that challenged each of us.
Below is a Summary of Jen Wilkin’s Bible study method that Christi Scarpa put together. My encouragement for us all is to read through it, and pray over how God can use it to help us grow in our understanding of who God is, and His amazing story of redemption.
Women of the Word
5 P’s – Page 109-110
Study with Purpose —- Understand where your text fits into the Big Story of creation-fall-redemption-restoration
Study with Perspective — Understand the “archaeology” of your text (its historical and cultural context)
Study with Patience — Resolve not to hurry; set a realistic expectation for your pace of study, focusing on the long term
Study with Process — Begin methodically reading for comprehension, interpretation, and application
Study with Prayer — Ask the Father to help you before, during, and after your study time
Step 1: Begin with Purpose
“As you spend time in the text, its specific contributions to the Big Story will begin to emerge more clearly. By the End of your study, you should be able to point to the themes of the metanarrative as they appear in your text.” – Page 111
Step 2: Get Perspective on the book you will be studying.
“Using a study Bible, trusted commentary, or both, answer the archaeological questions of the book.” -Page 112
- Who wrote it?
- When was it written?
- To whom was it written?
- In what style was it written?
- Why was it written?
Step 3: Begin the Process of Comprehension-Interpretation-Application
Comprehension: What does it say?
“Using your double-spaced copy of the text, read through the book from start to finish, paying attention to footnotes and making notes in the margins summarizing big ideas.” -Page 113 *(Jen encourages her reader to print out a double-spaced copy of the text one is studying to better help in note taking).
“Read through the book a few more times, annotating repeated words, phrases, or ideas as they begin to emerge in your understanding. Read the letter in two other translations as part of your repetitive reading. As you grow more familiar with what the text says, begin transferring your summary statements into your journal to form a rough outline of the letter.” -Page 114
Interpretation: What does it mean?
Look up the cross-references listed in your Bible for each verse in the section you are studying (they will be located in the margin or at the bottom of the page in your Bible). -Page 116
“Paraphrasing is writing a verse or passage in our own words to help us wrestle with its meaning. Paraphrasing is particularly helpful when a verse seems unclear or confusing.”
“Start with your study Bible notes, and then read more in-depth commentaries or teachings to refine your thinking. Remember to use commentaries from trusted sources.” -Page 120
Application: How should it change me?
-What does this passage teach me about God?
-How does this aspect of God’s character change my view of self?
-What should I do in response?
What’s your reaction to this Bible study method?
Are you feeling excited and ready to dive in? Are you already overwhelmed and feel like you’ve failed before you even began? Do you feel like you are currently applying a handful of these tools in your quiet time?
Two practices that are incredibly beneficial and vital to anyone studying God’s Word are prayer and accountability. There will be times when you don’t understand what you are reading, or when you don’t feel like reading. Pray through that. There will be moments when you are struck with awe and feel like the words are jumping off the page just for you. Pray through that. Our quiet times are set apart moments with our Creator, make it a conversation. As far as accountability, it is so important to have someone else in your life who will ask you what God’s been teaching you, and will hold you accountable to maintain your quiet time as a priority. These individuals will encourage you when you are feeling defeated and will cheer you on when you realize all the ways you are growing in your faith.
Jen Wilkin did a fantastic job in her book encouraging us to really read our Bibles, to prioritize time with Jesus, and to dig deep. My prayer is that the Lord uses this brief blog to encourage you in your quiet times as much as He encouraged me through that Sunday morning class.
We are so spoiled to have such amazing access to podcasts, sermons and books about the Bible, but let’s not forget to study the Bible itself. It’s absolutely the best way we can spend our time, the best truth to consume our thoughts, and the best content to impact our everyday lives. It’s Springtime. Let’s take a moment to consider how we spend our time with the Lord and whether or not we need to dig deeper. Dig a little deeper to better understand the Creator of the beautiful birds, flowers, and cool breezes that make this season so special.