Likely, your schedule is already full to overflowing – music lessons, co-op assignments, sports practice, church programs, friends, family, and more. Where does Bible study fit in – honestly?
We want to be able to say to our children:
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Tim. 3:14-15
There are 66 books in the Bible and all of them are so important that God preserved them down through the centuries and made them available to us right in our own homes.
So how do we actually do Bible study – and enjoy it enough to want to do it?
Below are some ideas:
- In the beginning, just do it. Make it a prioritized habit.
Like brushing teeth, there’s something to be said for making it an ingrained habit. We don’t brush our teeth because we think it’s fun, but rather because it’s important and so we fit it in every day around the same time, thoughtlessly, from pure repetition.
- Make it your priority too.
If it’s not currently your habit, resolve to make it so. Your kids should see you reading it, prioritizing it, and even talking about it (see below). My Bible is worn, marked in, and studied. It’s evidence that God and His Word are crucial in my life. My kids notice.
- Do some exciting topical studies.
This is where the Bible came alive in my own life! My parents had ingrained the habit of Bible reading early on; I was familiar with most of it and had memorized a good bit of it. But it was topical study that brought the Bible to life. Have a question? Look up everything the Bible has to say on that topic! Good topical studies take months. Because of that, they bring a depth of Bible knowledge that is unmatched. Wondering about baptism? Want to know the role of a man/woman? Curious about music? Use some good resources (see next bullet) and slowly work your way through every Scripture passage that mentions that topic. Better yet, write out each passage and discuss/consider what each brings to the topic. Think of it like sleuthing!
- Gather some study resources.
I do mean study aids, not Bible replacements. We’re wanting God’s Word to speak for itself – straight from His mouth to our ears. So we’re not after Bible story books, catechisms, or devotionals here. We want the “living, active” version along with study resources that make finding related Biblical passages easier. My two favorites are: (1) A Word Study Bible to look up key words of interest, and (2) Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance as an adjunct to the Word Study Bible. First, find the verse in the Word Study Bible and identify the word’s “number.” Then use the dictionary section to look up that number and determine the definition for the original Greek/Hebrew word. Once you know the “number” for a word, you can use Strong’s to find EVERY place that same word is used in the Bible – I mean the original word, not the translated English word. This has made such a difference to me personally. A word translated in context as “compassion,” might be the word for “love” in the original. The English word “love” can be phileo, eros, or agape in the Greek. It’s interesting to see to which kind of love a particular verse refers! Therefore, for a topical study, you can easily find every place a topic is mentioned throughout the entire Bible – and then slowly make your way through each reference.
- Use a real Bible.
Don’t use a story Bible or an abridged version. As early as possible (from infancy was the view of Timothy’s mom) we want our children to learn the Holy Scriptures as God presented them to us. We have less than two decades to help them learn 66 books really well. Besides, a well-used book becomes a well-loved friend.
- Start a Scripture journal.
This is a method that works well for me. My Scripture journals are literally filled with Scripture. Some of them are Scriptures on a particular topic as I’ve worked my way through topical studies. I can now go back and easily read everything about that topic. I’ve often made notes on the Greek or Hebrew word meanings, too.
But some entries are just passages that became meaningful to me. Those, too, might have notes about the original words/meanings; they often contain related verses that were cross-referenced.
I start with a blank journal and write out complete verses. Merely by the practice of writing out the verses by hand, I notice each word in a way I don’t otherwise. They impress on my mind as I write. I’m hearing it if read aloud. I’m seeing it as I read. I’m kinesthetically writing it. Together, that cements the verses in an enduring way! I highly recommend trying it.
- Sing it.
With a bit of searching, you can find songs that are straight Scripture. For small kids, start with Steve Green’s “Hide ‘Em in Your Heart” series. Make sure your kids realize they are actual Scripture verses – perhaps by looking up the “lyrics” in the Bible. Music is powerful for memorization – and it comes back to mind so easily. My own kids can attest to the many times I sang, “Children obey your parents in the Lord” from the Steve Green collection – at “inconvenient” times in their growing up years. Seriously though, rather than shoving it at them as just described, I preferred using it for better and comforting reasons – like singing “When I am afraid, I will trust in You” during difficult times.
- Memorize it.
While singing it is a great way to memorize, you’ll also want to hide the Word in their hearts in other ways too. Make up games for learning new verses. Recite verses to grandparents. Use the verses for handwriting practice. Try memorizing larger portions, too — even young children can learn long sections. (Try Luke 2:1-20 this fall in time for Christmas!) Remember that repetition and review (and sometimes competition as with Bible quizzing programs) are key. For one fabulous memorization method, presented via an interesting video, click here.
- Talk about it (apply it).
As you and your family study the Word, the Holy Spirit will begin to bring those words back to your mind. “The heavens declare the glory of God” when you’re looking at a gorgeous sunset. “Do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” when it seems that evil is going to prevail or someone is “getting away with it.” “Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow” when it begins to snow. Even that a seed must fall to the ground and die in order to be fruitful when we’re gardening. As Scripture starts coming more and more easily to our minds, we can begin to talk about it all the time. That’s when we know God’s Word has penetrated and made a difference in the way we view life.
- Read the Bible all the way through.
This doesn’t have to be done every year and probably should be reserved for older children. But a few times in their growing up years, you should make your way through the entire Bible together as a family, and perhaps give incentive for them to do it at least once on their own. Interesting conversations about the buried sword handle in Eglon or something of more substance like why Uzza died when he steadied the ark (along with Proverbs 14:12) can help them realize that this is not a dated, boring Book! This Book is both life-giving — and fascinating!
- Take some related field trips.
WV is relatively near some fabulous Bible-related resources like the Ark in Kentucky, the Creation Museum also in Kentucky, and the Bible Museum in D.C. These destinations can not only make the Bible come alive, but also demonstrate that others take the Bible seriously. In a time when even fellow church goers may hardly read the Word, we need to rub elbows with many who not only know the Word, but apply it and expect others to apply it. “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” Take the time to find “good peer pressure.”
For a similar article with additional thoughts and ideas, click here.
I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.
…I delight in your commandments, because I love them.
from Psalm 119