5 Great Bible Study Resolutions For 2016
Here are what I hope are five great Bible study resolutions for you to make for 2016.
Prayer for Illumination
We are all blind and deaf to the Scriptures without the Holy Spirit’s help because He in illuminates the Word of God for us, like a flashlight does while reading in the dark. Jesus told the disciples that “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). There have been times during our Sunday school, Bible study, or where I was sharing the gospel when a Bible verse came to mind and it was the exact verse I needed and at the exact time I needed it. That’s the Spirit of God doing that for me. Jesus said as much by saying, “when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me” (John 15:26). Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will bear witness about Him, not about our gifts, not about the person, not about anything else. The Holy Spirit is to bear witness of the teachings and Person of Jesus Christ and since Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1, 14), we need to pray for this Helper to give us understanding so that we can apply these teachings to our lives.
Meditating on the Word
A few years ago our church elder said that we’ve lost the value of Bible meditation. He didn’t mean chanting or emptying one’s mind because that’s a dangerous place to leave your mind; vulnerable to the enemy. No one goes to bed at night with their door open or unlocked so why try to have an “open mind” in meditation when just about anything can come in (Eph 6:12). What our elder said is what the psalmist wrote that “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways” (Psalm 119:15) and those precepts are found in Scripture so he’s basically meditating or contemplating the laws of God and prays, “I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes” (Psalm 119:48). Even Joshua was told by God that “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8). This leaves no doubt that if their “delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2) and he or she will be “like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:3).
Stick to Daily Bible Reading
I know this sounds a bit legalistic but it’s not. Don’t be hard on yourself if you make a resolution to read the Bible in a year. That’s fine but I think it’s better to go slow that try to rush through just to say we’ve done it. We’ll miss so much. I like to say, “No Bible, no breakfast.” Believe me, it’s hard some days but I discipline myself to read some out of the Old Testament and some out of the New Testament. My Bible is a chronological Bible where the books are blended together in some places due to the time that the events took place. It’s also a “One Year Bible Reading” one. It’s even got the days of the calendar on it so you can know just how much you need to read that day to be able to read it in a year. Again, that’s fine for some. I want to go very slowly and sometimes even repeat chapters to help me in the following chapters. Are there days when I don’t feel like it? Yes, there are but I know that just when I don’t feel like reading it is the very time I need to read it the most…so I do.
Reading Scripture Cross References
Does your Bible have margins in the center? Do these margins contain Scripture cross references? Maybe they’re at the bottom of the page. Either way, these are a great way to embellish or enrich your Bible study because you can take a hard to understand verse and cross reference it with the other Scriptures to hopefully, make it clearer. A good example is when you read Acts 4:12 it says; “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” On that verse, you might see a Scripture reference about something that relates to that verse like 1st Timothy 2:5 which says “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” or even Matthew 1:21 where Matthew writes that Mary “will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” which supports what Peter said in Acts 4:12 that it is only through the Mediator, Jesus Christ, that we must be saved. It might also be helpful to see where those Scripture references have their own cross references and what they might say. The possibilities seem endless but it may be productive only up to a point.
Buy Some Study Aids
I believe it is very helpful to read the background of a book in the Bible. For example, when you read about Matthew you understand why he included so many prophecies from the Old Testament. He was writing to the Jewish people and proving from Scripture that Jesus is the long-awaited, prophesied Messiah and He shows that Jesus is in the royal lineage of King David (Matt 1). A good Bible concordance, Bible dictionary, or a Bible atlas can really help us better understand what’s written, why it was written and to whom it was written. Knowing more about the purpose, the culture, and the circumstances in which they lived can tell us a lot about why the author wrote what he did. If you know more about the sexually immorality taking place in the city of Corinth, Paul’s letters will make more sense to you (1st & 2nd Cor). I also like to read parallel translations so that it might bring out the message more clearly so I keep a New American Standard Bible (NASB), an English Standard Version (ESV), a New King James Version (NKJV) and of course, the King James Verse (KJV). The more tools you have to study with, the clearer the Scriptures may become.
This might seem like a strange resolution to have but if you spend at least part of your Bible reading for the year on one book, you’ll begin to memorize portions of it. Some of the passages that you had previously read over may suddenly come to life. You might notice something that you’ve never seen before. It’s amazing what going through a book of the Bible several times will do, but at least try to resolve to pray before Bible study, stop and meditate on passages that are profound to you, discipline yourself to read at least some Scripture every single day, use your Scripture references in your margins to help you explore more on verses, and surround yourself with some Bible study aids so you’re equipped to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Daily devotionals are nice and they can be great additional teachings but they cannot ever replace the Word of God.
Article from Pastor Jack Wellman