The Need for Preparation
I recently overheard a younger believer say, “I don’t even feel like going to the Bible study; it is so boring!” If this is how you feel, then it is a signal of alarm, because God wants you to hunger for His Word and to find joy in it. The psalmist described God’s Word as sweeter than honey (Psa 119:103). The prophet Jeremiah said, “Your Words were found and I ate them, and Your Word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (Jer 15:16 NKJV). If you are not enjoying your Bible, then you need to make it a matter of prayer because the law of the Kingdom is to ask. God wants you to find delight in His Word. If you ask Him to give you a hunger for His Word, He will answer that prayer with a resounding “Yes!” Ask Him to give you a heart that desires His Word more than anything else. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you through His Word and to help you to love His Word. You also may need to ask Him to help you give His Word priority in your life. You will lose your appetite for God’s Word if you only give Him a few minutes a day and, instead, spend most of your free time watching shows, surfing the Internet, or going on Facebook.
The Bible is our source of spiritual nutrition and blessing. It is possible that you may be enjoying the Lord and His Word, but are finding your assembly Bible studies tedious, slow, or repetitious. Studies that only move forward by one or two verses over a forty-five minute period and incorporate much review each week, can be difficult to enjoy. Some assemblies have found it helpful to have outlines made up for each study, with questions to address. This helps provide structure and focus for Christians as they go through the chapter being studied.
Getting ready for the Bible Study
It is important to cultivate an appetite for God’s Word. You may not be a student prone to spending a lot of time looking up the meaning of words and searching out themes, but it is important to set aside a specified amount of time to study the Bible. The time you spend in preparation for the weekly assembly study will not only increase your enjoyment of the meeting, but it will also help you grow in your understanding of God’s Word and of Himself. If you have no study helps, then speak to one of your elders and ask for advice on what books to use. Some gospel halls have bookshelves with extra commentaries. If not, I’m sure that one of your elders would let you borrow a book. It’s time to plug in.
Make sure you know what chapter will be covered in the next Bible study and try to read it often throughout the preceding week. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to you and pray for a teachable attitude. Look for common words and themes which run through the chapter and the book. After you are familiar with the chapter, try to divide it into sections and write down your own headings. Learn about the context and background of the book. Write down any questions you might have. One of the best ways of learning is by asking questions. Never feel ashamed to ask questions; often they can stimulate interesting discussion. Try to see what God wants to teach you from the passage. Be prepared to share this when the opportunity arises in the Bible study. Every young brother has the ability to encourage publicly with a personal thought enjoyed from the Scriptures or to ask a related question, and although sisters do not take a public part in assembly Bible studies, they can take what they have learned and share it in a private setting. The main goal of the Bible study is to give a clear sense of the passage and provide balanced teaching to the assembly for the encouragement and blessing of all. It is not a forum for impressing others by trying to show how much you know or how well you speak. For those who find it difficult to express themselves, writing things down in advance can be helpful. Keep your comments brief and respect others who are participating. Never have an argumentative spirit. If you disagree with an older brother it might be better to talk to him after the meeting in a more private setting. Humility is essential. If you want to enjoy the Bible study more, start by preparing well and then go with the intention of learning from God. He will teach you.
Knowing Your Bible
Getting to know your Bible is a lifelong pursuit that requires discipline. It involves more than just learning verses; it includes getting to know the themes of the Bible, the patterns, the principles, the ways of God, and ultimately the very person of God. It takes time, effort, and experience. Paul advised Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2Tim 2:15 NKJV). Isaiah spoke of this as “line upon line” and “precept upon precept,” which teaches us that truth is learned little by little.
Living in Truth
Learning and living go together. As you study the Scriptures and learn the ways of God, He will gently show you where you need to change – attitudes, actions, thoughts. The truth will convict you of whatever is inconsistent with godliness. As you allow this process to take place, you grow in grace. It is extremely disturbing to hear a person pontificate on a subject, when the audience knows his life is inconsistent with his words. A humble, submissive, and repentant spirit is what God desires from all of us and the process of growing in grace will not be completed until we are home with our Lord.