The Struggle: Finding a Bible Study That Works for Me

It has been a while, actually, a lot longer than I realized since I have added any posts. This was a bit intentional on my part. I needed to find focus. I needed to step away and hear what God wanted me to do. Then it wasn’t just me any more. The whole world went a bit topsy-turvy, or so it seemed. I stepped away from social media almost completely. I say almost because there are some cases in which I needed to research a few things which took me to social media to find the answers. This is basically all I use it for now.

Why?

I found myself loosing too many hours in mindlessly scrolling through social media and in the end finding no benefit to it. Then, many times, I found my emotions being triggered by posts that had no purpose other than to project anger, fear and hate. I choose not to have anger, fear and hate in my life if it is within my control. Anger and hate are open doors for the enemy to insert a foot and then a stronghold to pull me away from God. This is not my purpose in life. My purpose is to get closer to God. So, social media is no longer a daily activity it is a tool for research only and I only go there when I need to research something.

I won’t be writing about Covid. I will only say this, we are fine. My daughter and I are fine. We follow our government’s advice, we stay home as much as possible and I follow my company’s requirements. Working in a pharmacy, interacting with people every day, means Covid can be a hot topic, a trigger to mine and other’s emotions, and I prefer to hand all my concerns over to God and let him take care of us. He is.

The past week or so, our air quality has been really bad here, due to the fires in the U.S. south of us. So, with the air quality, on top of Covid, breathing for some can be a huge challenge, and breathing for healthy people can be a challenge they never thought they would have to face. I fall somewhere between those two, as I learned my sensitivity to smoke can clog up my airways. Again, we stay inside as much as possible.

I know some people find restricting their movements, remaining home as much as possible a bit frustrating. I am not one of those people. I love being home whether it is with my daughter or on my own. I am never short on things to do.

I briefly scanned my last post just to remind myself where I was at the last time I posted. It didn’t have to remind me that one of the challenges I faced was in how to proceed with my bible studies. It is probably one of the main reasons I haven’t written, because it continued to be a challenge. Finding what works for me has not been easy. I often found myself asking, “why”.

That hasn’t been an easy thing to answer. I looked at inductive bible study method. I looked at the SOAP method. I tried devotionals. I checked out some Facebook groups devoted to bible study and a variety of bible classes from various sources. The list seemed endless and none seemed to work.

The other thing I was hung up on was my prayer life and wanting to be more focused and not so directionless in my prayers. I am not short on talking to God or praying to Him. I just always felt like they were NOT focused where they should be. Too much whining not enough praise, not enough thanks and so on.

I have been doing a lot of research, a lot of reading, and a lot of trial and error and praying for guidance in regards to both my study and prayer life.

I may address my prayer life later but for now I am working on a prayer journal which may work out but it is still a work in progress.

In my research regarding bible study, I came across Cat Woods on YouTube. I watched several of her videos before coming across one on how she studies her bible. This struck a cord with me and I let it germinate in my mind for a bit.

I tried a couple bible classes by Robin Sampson but they didn’t feel like they were fulfilling what my spirit hungered for. I tried altering one of the courses where I would first read the scripture, find images to correspond with what I read, incorporating those images into a journal where I hand wrote the scripture but again something seemed lacking. My spirit hungered for more.

I asked myself “what do I return to over and over again when things don’t work for me…. writing is what I always return to. I have found that my form of study is more of a written form instead of others, who like to use a lot of images in their bible journaling. I do enjoy searching for images and adding them to my handwritten scriptures which helps me to remember what I read, especially when I flip through my journal.

My study in Genesis using images, an altered version of Robin Sampson’s Creation Era class
Another page in the journal.

However, it takes a lot of time to do this and something was still missing. My spirit hungered for more. So I continued searching even though this partially worked for me.

In the meantime, I remembered Cat Wood’s video and I wondered if I could somehow formulate my own method of study. I knew I wanted to be creative in whatever I did and a new idea started to develop.

I knew I wanted to use lined paper so, the first thing I did was print out some lined paper I designed using a beautiful floral image I can’t share because it came from one of the classes I took and is not my own creation. But, by using Microsoft Word, I created lined paper with a background that looks like parchment paper.

I printed this on copy paper, two-sided, so it could be folded it in half to create a notebook using 5 or 6 sheets.

I, eventually, came upon an idea on how to create a cover that would hold about 5 or 6 notebooks. Each notebook would be like a little traveler’s notebook. The cover is based off of a travel’s notebook cover using crochet thread to hold the individual notebooks in place. I can slide out the notebook I want to write in and then slide it back in.

I created the journal today when my computer was updating. Unbelievably, I was done with the traveler’s style notebook long before my computer completed its update which took 5 hours!!

Of course a bible study isn’t just a notebook or style of notebook, it is about a method in which we can dig deeper into God’s word and learn about Him. However, I knew I needed a journal that would suit my needs and so I created this one in a traveler’s style. This enables me to pull out the journal I want to use when I’m studying.

Why 5 notebooks within my journal? Well, I’m not really sure. Tonight I started with two of the notebooks. The first I use for my reference study. The second for my study notes.

What do I mean by reference study? As an example, I started with Genesis 1:1. I start writing out the verse until I come across a superscript. The superscript points to a verse or group of verses in the reference column of my bible. Next, I flip to the first verse from the reference and write it in my journal, indenting it so I know it came from the reference. I do this for each verse or set of verses the superscript refers to. Then I go back to the verse I was reading and continue to write it out until I come across another superscript. Here is the example:

In the bible:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning,A God created the heavens and the earth.B

Reference: A Jn 1:1-2 B Job 38:4; Ps 90:2….

In my journal I did this, everything is handwritten (you might be able to see this in the 3rd image above):

Genesis 1

1 In the beginning

John 1:1-2

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God

2 He was with God in the beginning.

God created the heavens and the earth.

Job 38:4

4 Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.

Psalm 90:2

2 Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting

to everlasting you are God.

I continued in this way until I had all the referenced scripture written down under the scripture in the verse I was reading. In the above example there were more scriptures referenced for the B reference, a lot more. In my own journal, I wrote them all out, but for sake of space and time, I only showed two of them here.

What I found when I did this was I gained a greater perspective on what the scripture means, as well as, how it relates in other scriptures. For instance, another scripture referenced in B above (which I did not include) is Isaiah 42:5 “This is what God the Lord says– the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:” and Isaiah 44:24 “This is what the Lord says– your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself,”

In another notebook, I dated the page then wrote down notes relating to “who,what, where, when, why, and how” and then my thoughts. My notes included referencing the two Isaiah scriptures to back up my thoughts about how God didn’t just create the universe and our world and step back. He continually has a part in it every moment of every day. He gives us breath. He creates life in the womb, without Him there would be no life. This to me isn’t a new thought but it does instill a sense of amazement and an understanding of how each breath I take is a gift from God.

In just one verse of scripture, and using the reference feature of my bible, I think I have found what my spirit was seeking. I will know more as I continue to use this method. In Cat Wood’s video she didn’t stop at the scripture referenced in the verse she was reading. If for example she was also reading Genesis 1:1 she would go to John 1:1 and write it out until she came to a subscript and then go to that scripture in the reference, and write it until she reached a subscript and go to that referenced scripture and so on. This would lead to a lot of chained verses and can get quite complicated. Since I’m just starting out with my studies I decided to only go one deep which means only looking at the references for the scripture I am reading and no further.

What amazed me most about doing this is how the scriptures written out in this way have a sense of wholeness/completeness to them. They seem to form a complete thought.

When I realized my computer was going to take a long time to update I knew, this was God’s way of telling me I was on the right track for my studies. He gave me the time away from my computer to get my journal together. Then the time tonight to try out my first study in the method I had chosen. The insights from just the first verse in the bible by going to the references was mind boggling to say the least. If my eyes weren’t already strained from the lateness of the hour I would want to continue on to the next verse.

This also revealed to me, my study now is at the verse level and that I should never be in a hurry to get to the next verse or chapter.

What thoroughly blows my mind is the effort and work it must have taken for the creation of the cross-reference system. This was done before there were computers. How they did it just absolutely confounds me.

I did compare two of my NIV bibles that contain references and they are not identical. My study bible has more references. I decided to go with the one that has less references only because I am just starting out and I didn’t want to overwhelm myself. Again, this is about taking my time and letting the Spirit lead me.

I am on day 2 now. My study included Genesis 1:2-5 and I felt it no less invigorating and informative. Reading that when God “sends his Spirit, they are created” (Psalm104:30) and “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” (Psalm 33:6) helped confirm a thought I have always had. That the Spirit of God is part of all that he has created.

Learning these things on my own as I am lead by the Spirit is more insightful and embedded than just hearing it in a sermon or in a class. I make a more solid connection with this knowledge in this way than I do if someone tells me. My Spirit also recognizes its truth when I discover the knowledge for myself, whereas, hearing it from another source, there is a certain amount of skepticism.

I am not sure if I will return to my blog to write any more posts. I have been considering removing it but I am not sure if that is what God wants me to do. For now, I’ll leave it here and wait for guidance from God’s Spirit.

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