“Get Rid of Those Bible Study Crutches!”
By Gwen Toliver
Okay, let’s just lay it all out on the table. You’re tired. You feel like you haven’t had eight hours of uninterrupted sleep in about a century. You have new wrinkles that pop up every time you look in the mirror. You are pulled in so many directions that the term “multi-tasking” doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Yet sometimes you just ache because you hunger for a deeper knowledge of God and His Word. You desire to be a godly woman – not just someone who can rattle off a few convenient Bible verses – but someone who has a deep, rich comprehension of Scripture and who truly lives and walks the Word of God day in, day out.
Maybe you think it’s unattainable. Maybe you even fall for the lie that says, “You’re a busy mom and you don’t have much time to spend reading your Bible.”
But the truth is this…
you have time for everything that is important to you!
I’m in the trenches with you. With eight kids between the ages of two and sixteen, life is busy. In one day, I deal with everything from potty training to geometry.
But God’s Word should still be the priority. Start by sitting down, opening up the Bible, and telling the kids, “No interruptions.” If there’s a protruding bone or a large kitchen fire, well, okay. But less than that and they can wait. They will see the priority of Scripture in your life.
It is increasingly critical to know the Word for ourselves because we are inundated with false teachers and fallen Christian leaders, as recent months have shown.
Every single one of those leaders had two things in common: a large, loyal following and a history of false teaching.
Certainly there was some truth in what they taught or they would have been unable to convince Christians to follow them. But those same Christians who found a bit of truth failed to be discerning and search the Scriptures for themselves.
Consider the Bereans. Their teacher was the apostle Paul! I’d be tempted to say, “Oh, he’s the one who was appointed apostle by God’s voice from heaven. We can believe everything he says!” (Acts 9:4) But not the Bereans. They “received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.” Should we be doing any less?
We must be students of the Word. While it’s not wise to neglect godly theologians who have gone before us, the root and foundation of our Bible study should be us seeking to know God and studying His Word for ourselves.
1. Slowly read small portions: This is where those crutches need to be thrown out. Don’t rely on a quick blog post or devotional book. Certainly those tools can have a place but they can also be a crutch when you take someone else’s words for truth and fail to dig into Scripture yourself. When you are committed to faithful, accurate exposition of God’s Word, by God’s grace you will not fall into the trap of putting man’s words above His.
2. Study His character: The more I learn about the character of God, the more I love Him, and the more I want to study His Word. As you read, keep your eyes open for verses that give you any clue about who God is. Start by getting in the habit of writing in the margins of your Bible! For example, in my Bible I’ve made notes like these:
Isa. 46:10; Col. 1:17; Job 42:2 – God is sovereign
Job 38 – God is all-powerful
Psa. 119:89; Heb. 13:8; Isa. 41:4 – God is eternal and unchanging
Jer. 23:24; Heb. 4:13 – God is omnipresent
Rev. 4:8; Psa. 66:18- God is holy
3. Beyond Psalms: If you have never read through the Bible, you’re missing out. We certainly can’t expect to know God if we have never even read the one Book He gave us. Reading all of Scripture gives an overall picture of Who God is and how He has worked throughout history. You may need a good study Bible close at hand to help you through the hard-to-understand parts, but your entire spiritual walk will be enriched by your efforts.
4. Pick a word: Let’s take joy for example. Use your Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance – a handy-dandy tool for all Christians, which can be found online too. The concordance shows how the word joy is used differently throughout Scripture. Sometimes joy really does refer to specific events like when the temple was restored (Ezra 3:11-12). Neh. 8:10 tells us that finding our joy in the Lord should be the source of our strength. Joy also relates to praising Him and His righteousness – again, knowing God’s character. (Psa. 35:27-28)
There’s no better time than now to start. Stop relying on those crutches and dig into the Word. When you truly know what God says then you can stand firm and be armed for battle.
Gwen Toliver and her husband, John, have been serving with Wycliffe Associates in Dallas, Texas since 2010. With eight children, ages 2 to 16, a fixer-upper in the country, full-time ministry involvement, and frequent travels, Gwen finds that her life is full of abundant blogging ideas. Gwen is also the author of Seed Sowers: Gospel-Planting Adventures. When she takes a moment to sit down, breathe, and blog, she can be found at ToliversToTexas.com and SeedSowersTheBook.com.