For the next six months, I want to help you grow in your spiritual disciplines, which my friend Don Whitney defines as “those practices found in Scripture that promote spiritual growth among believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ.” This month, I focus on strengthening your Bible study.
Have a plan.
It’s tough to stay faithful in Bible reading when you have no plan in place. Regardless of what that plan is, you need to know ahead of time what you will read for the next day. At least for me, having to figure out what to read each morning is an invitation for me to find something else to do. Having a plan (which I generally find via an Internet search) lessens the possibility of my not reading each day.
Read something every day.
My general philosophy is that consistency plus quality and accountability is greater than quantity in Bible reading. Even if you read only one verse a day, I would rather you do that than read one full chapter one day each week. The greater quantity of reading one chapter each week might seem better, but the daily consistency is likely to lead to deeper reading and even more quantity.
Use a good study Bible.
I use a study Bible primarily to help me understand background, names, history, etc., as I read. In fact, I look to the notes only when something’s not clear to me. Find a study Bible with enough notes to be helpful, but not so many that they become distracting or overwhelming. I have enjoyed using the CSB Everyday Study Bible, which is a concise version of the more extensive CSB Study Bible.
Journal what you learn.
I’m not by nature a journaler, but I’ve learned the importance of writing down what the Lord is teaching me. If I don’t take notes, I too quickly forget what I’ve read. Maybe the plan I’m following this year will help you: I’m writing insights or ideas in the margin of my Bible. That way, I not only keep my Bible open as I write, but I will also have a marked-up Bible to give someone at the end of the year.
Tell somebody else what you’re learning.
For years, I’ve done this by sending a daily email to a group of believers after I’ve read the Word. The email is not long, and I use it simply to say, “Here’s what I’ve read. Here’s what I’m learning. Here’s how you can pray for me.” You might send this kind of message to other church leaders, to people you’re mentoring, to your adult children, or even to a non-believer interested in hearing what you’re learning.
Chuck Lawless is dean of doctoral studies and vice president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. For more from Lawless, visit chucklawless.com.