I want to do something a little different with the devo today. Instead of giving you a quick thought to digest, I want to create time for you to engage God’s Word and think about its implications for your own life. Now, if you are panicked already, don’t be. There is no pressure here, and I am going to walk you through each step of this. It will be fun, I promise! You can do this on your phone or a journal, or even a scrap piece of paper you have laying around.
Scripture: We are going to start by simply reading a scripture. I chose Philippians 1:1-2 today. Take a minute to read it, and then read it again.
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Observe: Now we will start looking at different elements and items that are in the scripture. We are simply making notes of what we see. I have given you a few examples; you fill out the lines below with other observations. Start by simply looking for what sticks out to you.
- This letter seems to be written by Paul and Timothy.
- Paul and Timothy are servants of Christ Jesus.
- They are writing to saints in Christ Jesus.
- Don’t let the number of dots determine how many observations you make!
Ask Questions: Here is where you might have to do some homework by going to a commentary (there are many free good ones online…Matthew Henry’s commentary is linked above and a great place to start). But many times the text will answer your questions for you, and these questions will help determine the meaning.
- What is this scripture saying about God?
- Is God doing something?
- What is this scripture saying about us (humans)?
- Is there a command in this passage?
- Is there anything I don’t understand?
- EX: What does it mean, the saints “in” Christ Jesus?
- (Write out your questions.)
Find The Meaning: We will look at what we observed and the answers to our questions, and determine what the scripture is saying. We are taking all our observations and answered questions, and putting together the things the author was trying to say.
- EX: Paul and Timothy are going to tell the Philippian Church something, either to encourage or correct them. Paul and Timothy were mentoring or training them in some way. The Philippians weren’t left alone in their pursuit of Christ. God gave them servants to help them.
- (Now write the things you found.)
Application: This is the part where we determine what the scripture means for us and how we should respond. This is where we bridge the gap between what the scripture means to everyone and what God is saying to us. This process ends with a practical step God is calling us to take.
- EX: I have been struggling with my faith and I feel like I am alone to figure this out. God doesn’t want me to do this alone, so today I am going to reach out to a church, a connect group, or a friend who will encourage me and point me toward Christ.
- (Now look at the truths or meanings you observed above, and think about how it applies to your life.)
This is how we begin to read and understand the Bible. It’s not a fast process; it’s not always an easy process. But for those who want to know and live their lives for God, this is the process God uses to give us wisdom and guidance, and to show us who He is. I hope you have fun with this, and I pray it sparks the realization that you really can read and understand the Bible.