Some of my best memories of my childhood are of birthday parties my mom threw in honor of me every year. Back then, we didn’t take tons of pictures, but the memories of how special I felt on those special days have not faded. My mom must have worked very hard to make everything feel so grand.
I kid her nowadays that she worked so hard on those parties that she didn’t leave any energy to do such elaborate parties for my younger brother and sister.
At each party, everything together seemed to be such surprises that filled those birthdays. From the cake to the presents to everyone just being so cheerful and kind, I never wanted the day to end.
During the COVID-19 shutdown, I spent a lot of time in a deep study of the Bible. That time reminded me of those childhood birthdays in some similar ways. Every I looked forward to my time I set aside to watch study and read. I wasn’t rushed. And I came away filled with hope and love of my heavenly father and the renewing of the love I know He has for us on earth. And I am surprised at how much better I understand scripture and will forever be changed because of the wonderful books and authors I used to help me understand better.
How I Study My Bible Fall 2020
Now that life seems to be almost back in full swing, I’m having to squeeze in my Bible study time. I still look forward to it, but I do long to go back to that deeper study I had grown to love.
I want to share one of those books. It’s a book I used while taking college Bible classes at Belhaven University and I got the latest edition that I am still using.
The book is How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart. If you want to understand the Bible better, I totally recommend this book above all others (other than the Bible itself).
When I do my Bible study, I get my Bible and this book and pick a certain book of the Bible to go through. One big thing I like about this book is something most Bible study teachers only touch a bit on are the different literary genre’s of the Bible.
Understanding how God inspired the writers of His Word using various genre’s is SO IMPORTANT! The authors of How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth explain to us of how God used these genres to speak to us.
The authors also have other books I have read and I love them as well! About 2 months ago, I got their book How to Read the Bible Book by Book and I now use it as a third book when studying my Bible.
Finding Time to Study with Little Kids
Now, I’m going to explain how I learn from these books, but first, I just want to point out that as a mom with several kids (one being a toddler that hardly ever sleeps), I have to get creative to study my Bible.
During the COVID-19 shutdown, it was almost too easy. With no where to go and less laundry, etc. I was still busy at home, but not as busy with outside stuff so in the afternoons and even at night when I am usually worn out and sleepy, I found long periods of time where I could deeply study my Bible. The weather was perfect too, so the kids and I would go outside and I would sit for a couple of hours while they played.
My 2 Best Tips
The best tip I can give a mom that has a lot to keep track of is to keep a dedicated bag or tote with her Bible study materials in. Now, nothing heavy. Don’t be bringing 2 commentaries and 5 translations of the Bible plus huge journaling kit. No, just what you need.
Also, make it a habit to keep it in there and in a specific spot in your home. Put your stuff away when you are done and have it ready to grab when you a have a spare moment to use it (like when a toddler is in the bath playing)
I still keep my Bible study materials that I am using currently in a small tote that is put on a bookshelf with my other Bible study books. All this is in my dining room where I can grab it and not wake up a baby or husband in case I get up early to use it (and now that our normal busyness is back in full swing, early mornings are when I try to do my Bible study).
Using the How to Read books
In the spring I studied the book of Psalms. I found it fascinating how the authors both of the How to Read books did not assume that I, the reader, knew much about the genre we were studying. I was surprised at several things about this book of Hebrew poetry that are thoroughly explained by Gordon and Fee.
Now, I’m certain you can find this info in other books, both on the seminary level and lay person level, but these authors truly have a way of explaining the complicated parts of the Bible we get puzzled about in a way that makes things much more clearer. On top of that, they tie in all the various books within the Bible with one another vividly showing us God’s glorious redemptive plan for mankind.
That’s why I wanted to share these books with you. Using them along side my Bible, I’ve been filled with a great amount of awe and hope plus I’ve been guided through Bible in a much more deeper level than other studies have taken me.
Examples of Things I Learned in Psalms
One aspect the authors surprised me about the Psalms was what the Psalms were and were not. In the text, they said that many assume that all the Bible contains are words from God to people, when in fact, the Bible also contains words spoken to God or about God, and these are God’s Word also because they tell of truth about God in song and poetry (p.212). Later in the chapter, the authors explain the benefits of using such words as these as others did in the past as a way to speak to the Lord (P. 230-231).
I was also surprised, and even relieved, to find out that one must understand the nature of the Psalms plus their various types, as well as their functions and forms (p. 214). Before, I new this was true of certain books, but this book explained how important it was even for Psalms. One must be careful in reading these songs and poetry as with any other scripture and not interpret it wrong.
Studying the Wisdom Books
Last spring, I took time to study more Old Testament books. The wisdom books, are considered to be Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and some of the Psalms. I was surprised to find out that these books are probably my favorite of the OT books.
It almost sounds silly to admit that wisdom is just so crucial in the world we live in, but wisdom is just so important! The authors verified that when they said, “Wisdom is the ability to make godly choices in life. You achieve this goal by applying God’s truth to your life so that your choices will indeed be godly.” (P. 233). A good deal of the chapter tied to this theme of how wisdom is when someone acts and thinks in a godly way (P. 235).
In the How to Read Books, the authors don’t just sum the books up in a quick way, but instead take us through reading each part of each of the books.
I was also glad they warned us how the wisdom from these books can, unfortunately, be misused. I think they also stressed the importance of looking at the books’ original meanings and how the culture is very different from that time.
If you are looking for a deeper way to study your Bible, I hope this explanation of how I am doing my daily study helps. One I finish these How to Books, they will remain on my shelf. I’ve used them also helping my kids when they ask tough questions on what the Bible means.
I only wish I could spend longer every single day studying my Bible. I am surprised at how God blesses me with my small efforts. It all add up whether I’m getting in a hour here or 5 minutes there are doing my kids’ Bible lesson with them.
For me it’s sort of like a child not wanting a birthday party to end. Thankfully, I can read my Bible any time I really want to and find more love, hope, and fulfillment than any birthday could possibly bring. The choice is up to me!