The steps I shared in Part 1 of this three-part series not only applies to your personal quiet time but also to lesson preparation. It is essential for teachers/leaders to have a personal encounter with God in Bible study before leading a group to do the same. When that happens, the teacher/leader is able to serve as a guide on a journey of discovery of God and His Word. For more thoughts along this line, check out Small Group Leader as Sightseeing Guide and the five-part series beginning with Leading Attenders to Meet God in Bible Study, Part 1.
The seven steps are from an article entitled 7 Steps for Studying the Bible which was based upon “Guidelines” by J. Vernon McGee. The article can be found on the Crosspurpose Internationalwebsite. In Part 1, I shared the first three of McGee’s seven steps: (1) begin with prayer, (2) read the Bible, and (3) study the Bible. In Part 2, I will share the next two steps in all capitals followed by my commentary:
- MEDITATE UPON THE BIBLE. Many read, some study, but few meditate. People are in too much of a hurry today to really think about what God has said to them in a passage of scripture. They expect immediate revelation. Full understanding may not come quickly. I like the words of the Psalmist, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2, NIV). Righteousness flows out of focus on God and His Word. I have discovered so much treasure and insight in passages on which I have spent days. At times, it has come in quiet moments driving down the highway long after reading a passage.
- READ WHAT OTHERS HAVE WRITTEN ON THE BIBLE.The first four steps are vital before moving on to this step. Pray. Read. Study. Meditate. Then, seek additional insight through other trustworthy commentators. Again, unfortunately too many today try to shortcut the process of Bible study by skipping the first four steps and jumping to reading what others have written. They hope to save time. Some do this because they don’t feel qualified, but qualification is not the issue. The issue is relationship with God and seeking Him through spending time with Him in prayer and Bible study. If you have spent time on the first four steps, this step can add valuable experience to this process. Some commentators and writers have spent time in the places written about on the pages of the Bible. Some have studied the languages. Others have spent years studying the biblical cultures. They have experience to add to a fuller understanding of scripture. The article offers an important warning, “We need to test everything that is written by the Bible itself.”
Pray. Read the Bible. Study. Meditate. Read commentary. Don’t rush these essential steps. The first four are what bring you into an encounter with God in Bible study. Then, listen to God before you listen to man (what others have written about the Bible). On which of these first steps do you need to focus more in your private devotions? in your lesson preparation? What can you do this week to strengthen that step in your “routine?” In Part 3, I will share the final two steps, (6) obey the Bible and (7) pass it on to others. Listen to Him. Practice the steps. Teach them. Be revolutionary!