1. Devotional Bible Study
The ultimate purpose of any type of Bible Study is life application, not interpretation, as God wants to change our lives through His Word. The Devotional Bible Study is simply taking a passage of the Bible and prayerfully meditating on it until the Holy Spirit leads you to apply its truth to your own life in a way that is personal, practical, possible, and tangible. In other words, take heed of James’ call to “do what it says” (1:22). Without personal application, any Bible Study becomes an academic exercise without any spiritual value! Remember 2 Tim. 3:16. Head knowledge without heart knowledge creates Pharisees! Even though they knew their Scriptures, they “didn’t know the power of God!” (Matt.22:29) Worse yet, their knowledge gave them a dangerous sentiment of pride: “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor. 8:1).
Our Devotional Bible study must lead to application and spiritual growth in our lives and has several steps:
- Step 1: Pray for insight on how to apply the passage
- Step 2: Meditate on the passage you have chosen to study
- Step 3: Write down an application and ask, “Does this application help me become more like Jesus?”
- Step 4: Memorize a key verse from your study.
Application is difficult because:
- It requires hard work and serious thinking
- Satan fights it with all of his might
- We naturally resist change and love our comfort zone.
2. Character Trait Method of Bible Study
One of the most important goals for Christians is to develop a Christlike character in their lives. We do this by cooperating with the Word of God and with the Spirit of God in the process of replacing bad character traits with good ones. This type of Bible study helps us identify both the good and the bad traits, and then, through prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit, work at minimizing the bad ones and maximizing the Christlike ones.
For instance, the Bible tells us that one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is “gentleness,” and calls us to become “gentle.” For this type of study we need some of the tools we mentioned last time:
- A Bible
- An exhaustive concordance
- A Bible dictionary or as word study book
- A topical Bible
- An English dictionary.
- Work on one quality at a time – this will help you stay focused on the weakest trait of your character.
- Character formation takes time – sometimes months, or even years! Don’t despair; persevere!
- Analyze whether a negative trait in your life is in fact a positive one, but misused. For instance, if you are legalistic and rigid, it could be that your positive trait of self-control is being misused and that self-discipline must be dipped in love, compassion, and concern for others.
- You CANNOT do it on your own! It is God’s Spirit that reproduces Christ’s character in us (Phil.2:13).
Steps for a Character Trait Bible Study:
- Name the trait. Look it up in an English Dictionary and write down the definition. List all the synonyms.
- Name the opposite trait. Most Thesauruses also give the antonyms. Write down its definition.
- Do a word study – look up the Bible definition of the quality you are studying. Use net.Bible.com
- Find cross-references: The Bible is the best interpreter of Scripture. Use your concordance and topical bible to find all the verses you can related to this trait.
- What are the benefits of this trait for ME?
- What are the bad consequences this trait can bring ME?
- What are the benefits / consequences this trait can bring to others?
- Is there any promise from God related to this quality?
- Is there any warning or judgment related to this trait?
- Is there a command related to this trait?
- What the Bible tells me what God thinks of this trait?
- Do I desire more or less of this trait in my life?
- Write down a short summary of the Bible’s teaching on this quality.
- Find a biblical person in that displayed this character trait in his or her life, and ask whether this trait helped or hindered his/her spiritual growth and what result it produced in his/her life.
- Find a memory verse that best underlines the trait you just studied.
- Think of a situation or relationship that you want to apply and work on this trait. If it is a situation, anticipate in advance how you are going to act when time comes. If it is a relationship, determine ahead how you are going to respond in your relationship with that person. Pray and ask God for His help.