Part One of this series showed we must study the Bible diligently because God says to; we need God’s peace to withstand the evil attacking our nation and our world today; and we must be ready to do our part in the world-wide revival that has already begun.
We saw that it is important to:
A. Do read the Bible through each year.
B. But do not just read – STUDY.
Part Two: Today, we will look at the following guidelines:
C. And do not just study—study FOR YOURSELF.
D. And do not just study for yourself—study IN YOUR AREAS OF NEED.
E. Let Holy Spirit teach you—DIRECTLY!
[Guideline C] And do not just study–Study for yourself! It is vital that you study for yourself, not just what other people have labored to unearth. I read many, many excellent books by sound Bible teachers about handling emotions, and I took part in Bible studies, but God did not heal me until I dug deeply into the Word for myself. Be warned especially if the study materials you rely on are strings of single verses, lacking the context of those verses and failing to show how those verses fit into God’s laws—His causes and effects, His conditional promises. If you are in a Bible study group or working through a Bible teaching book – good and very good! But you also need—as much as you need oxygen—to study for yourself!
But what if you just do not like studying, what if you do not have training in how to study the Bible, what if you cannot afford or do not know how to use computer programs or cell phone apps that provide commentary and exposition of Greek and Hebrew words? What if you are decades away from the classroom?
SO WHAT!!!! Are you going to believe that God can do anything (Job 42:2) or not? Are you going to let the devil or fear or laziness rob you of constant peace and of the strength to overcome temptation? Will you let self-doubt rob you of the wise counsel of the LORD, of knowing the deep, inner meaning of His covenant, as He promises in Psalm 25:14? Will you let Satan steal the healing God has for you? Will you refuse God’s call to prepare yourself to share the Bread of Life with starving souls He wants you to nurture? Certainly not!
<<The key point here is— I must do my own
digging–just me, my Bible and Holy Spirit.
Further, I must dig for what I, as an individual, need. >>
[D] And do not just study for yourself—study IN YOUR AREAS OF NEED. You will never find wheat in the apple orchard. If you need potatoes, you do not go to the cornfield! If I wander around through acres and acres and acres of rich farming country, I will perhaps find the specific fruit or vegetable, nut or berry that I need, but it will take a looong time! And I will likely give up and just eat what is convenient, although I really need something else.
We all must understand the basics of our faith and then keep learning—all of the Bible. It is wonderful to follow a planned curriculum that will cover the entire Bible but it could take years before that curriculum followed by your church focuses on conquering fear, anger, depression, lust, or whatever you most need. Even then, that curriculum will not be personalized for you, as Holy Spirit will personalize it. Nor will books specifically devoted to those subjects be personalized for you. Some books are good starting places but they are just that – a point from which to start your own study with God as your teacher.
So, how do you study strategically, in your area of personal need? Here are four steps.
 Identify what you need God’s help with.
 Use a concordance to find verses about that subject.
 Study those verses.
 Meditate on those verses constantly.
[Study for yourself-Step 1] Identify what you need God’s help with. You likely already know what your greatest struggle is. If not, ask God to show you. How will He do that? If I lose my temper in traffic and an obscenity pops out of my mouth. Hmmm. I need to study self-control. What if I see a romance novel, but I see the cover indicates the book is really pornography. Hmmm. God says to study temptation and purity.
[Study for yourself-Step 2] Use a concordance. Most Bibles have at least a small concordance in the back. You can start there or use another concordance. I suggest saving for later the exhaustive concordances—which list every time a word appears in the Bible. Smaller, compact concordances and those in the backs of Bibles list just the most important occurrences in the most common verses.
Do not get bogged down trying to decide which concordance to use—just start! Holy Spirit is right there with you and He will guide you. If you are humbly seeking God, God will “guide you in what is right and teach you His way.” (Psalm 25:9) Yes, YOU!
[Study for yourself-Step 3] Study those verses! Later sections will cover more about studying but, briefly, at a bare minimum, please, read the verses before and after and preferably the entire chapter. Read the verses slowly, phrase by phrase, thinking about what the words mean. Rewrite the verse by hand, adding underlines and arrows, using all capitals or circling the words and phrases as Holy Spirit emphasizes—for you—what He meant when He moved on people to write His words.
<<Sit there a while. Just look at the verse. Think about it.
Give yourself time to hear what God wants to tell you.>>
Consider this: does a good classroom teacher rattle off rapid-fire explanations of complicated concepts? Does she yell her most important points at students zipping up backpacks, eager to go on to the next thing? No! She waits for the full attention of the class and then speaks slowly and clearly. And she is entirely willing to answer questions.
So, take your time. Rewrite the verse in your own words. Look up other verses in your list and see if they help you understand better. If you vaguely remember a verse that seems relevant but cannot recall where it is in the Bible, skim the rest of your list for that verse, but if you cannot find it, return to the verse you are studying. God will arrange for you to find that verse later. Yes, He will! Just try Him and see.
[Study for yourself-Step 4] Meditate on those verses constantly. To meditate is to roll something over and over in your mind so as to understand it. A cow chews cud to render the food digestible. We are commanded to meditate constantly and promised tremendous blessings if we obey. It is NOT an option! We must meditate, taking time to think deeply, while we are studying, and we must also keep thinking about God’s Word all day. Because this is vital, detailed suggestions are provided in Guideline G on how to make that a habit, but for now, let’s look at another key to diligent Bible study—letting Holy Spirit Himself teach you.
[Guideline E] Let Holy Spirit teach you – directly! In looking up verses about Holy Spirit as teacher, I found an excellent writing by R. A. Torrey, world-renowned pastor, evangelist, educator and writer. Pastor Torrey referenced I John 2:27:
“As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit-just as it has taught you, remain in him.”
Amen, Pastor Torrey! Amen! Pastor Torrey eloquently states that the humblest believer has the privilege of being taught by God directly. And, although we do learn from others who have been taught by Holy Spirit, we “never truly know the truth” until we are taught directly by Holy Spirit. Further, he says that those who are taught by Holy Spirit will have better understanding of the Word than those who know Greek and Hebrew thoroughly and have studied diligently but without being taught by Holy Spirit. (See https://freeurlshortener.net/BDx).
Paul tells us in I Corinthians 2:13 that God’s Holy Spirit reveals the deep things of God to us “not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught word” (NIV).
I cannot urge you strongly enough:
<<Let Holy Spirit–Himself!–teach you directly,
in your areas of need,
as you sit alone with just Him and His Word.>>
In March 2019, depression and fear made me desperate enough to finally take advice I had heard repeatedly from Bible teacher Joyce Meyer: to study the Bible, for myself, in my personal areas of need. Having made growing with God my priority for 38 years and loving Bible study, I thought I was doing okay, hearing sermons each week, reading the Bible, doing Bible studies and reading Christian books. No! No! No! I was trying to hear God second-hand.
I cannot explain why anointed, root deep understanding that changes hearts, was withheld until I came to God as my Teacher directly—rather than second-hand. But I unintentionally proved that to myself through personal experience. Perhaps it is like trying to experience a hug using someone else as a go-between, or your beloved pouring out his heart to a mutual friend who then writes a love letter to you.
Would the words that mutual friend chose hit the mark as well as those of your beloved? And would the actual presence of that mutual friend be as satisfying as that of your beloved? Could you discuss a problem as well with that mutual friend as you could with your beloved, who knows all your past, who knows how you feel, who knows how you think, and who knows just what to say and when and how to say it? Could you trust that mutual friend as deeply as you trust your beloved?
<<Would you want to hear whispered words of love
through a mutual friend, or from your beloved?>>
Would it not be better—and the desire of the Lover of your soul—that the actual sound of His very own words fall on your ears? What if, dear friend, what if that mutual friend and your beloved were both in the room with you. Would you not wound your beloved deeply if you turned away from His outstretched arms and embraced the mutual friend instead?
From the moment I turned my heart to the Lover of my soul directly, from that first morning when I prayed, then sat at my desk, one Bible opened to the concordance in the back, looking up verses on peace in my copy of the Amplified Classic Bible, and taking notes on a clean stack of paper, Holy Spirit–Himself!–began teaching me what the Word meant for me. And He started with what I needed most which was how to find and stay in His peace that He describes in Isaiah 26:3-4.
No, I did not hear an audible voice but I read those verses, over and over, copied them in long-hand, and I kept looking at them, asking God “Lord, I believe You will teach me. Please show me how Your Word can heal this depression and fear. I believe Your Word is true. Help me see how to have this constant peace You promise . . . “
As I studied, I also paused often to look out the window and pray in the Spirit, which means to pray in tongues. I do not understand it-and do not have to!—but many times as I pray in tongues, God puts fresh, just-what-I-need thoughts in my mind. This will be the subject of a future writing, soon
And He did teach, on that morning and countless times since. God revealed, directly, yes, to little insignificant me, the deep truths of those verses. Using just the plain Word and His Spirit—–no commentaries, no fancy Bible app, no human Bible teacher–He gave understandings that I had never heard taught before, understandings that gave the first measure of true peace I had experienced in years, peace that has settled a velvety blanket over my soul every single day since.
<<Holy Spirit longs for you to ask Him
to teach you – personally>>
Next week — The next segment of this writing starts with Recommendation D – Cast a big net.