A topic my husband and I talk about constantly is time. We don’t have enough of it, aren’t using it wisely, thought we used to have none before we had our daughter but now we really don’t have any… I’m sure you have these same thoughts. What’s funny is, with as little time as we had before we have even less now. Time is a precious commodity and we all want to use it effectively. Sometimes that means we miss events, stay at home more and have less time for relaxing. One of the first things that I cast aside when I became a mom was reading.
When I was a kid, I used to devour books but as I’ve gotten older it’s become harder for me to find books that keep my attention. Then, when I became a Christian, I started picking up more and more books. I want to absorb as much as I can and the best way I’ve found is through reading. Along with the Bible, I’ve read books about faith, ways to study the Bible, devotionals and right now I’m reading a book about Jesus being key throughout all areas of the Bible. The problem that I have is I don’t have time to read as many as I’d like.
A New Series
I thought to myself “if only someone could read the books I want to read and give me the gist so I know whether I want to read it or not.” I know other women have to be thinking the same thing, so instead of waiting for someone else I decided to kick off my Top Three Takeaways series.
The first book I’m going to give you my takeaways from is Jen Wilkin’s “Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and our Minds.” My small group leader suggested this book and I’ve been lending it out since I read it. It’s a fantastic book, a quick read and it has so much information and wisdom jam-packed into 160 pages.
Below I’ve outlined my top three items that truly encouraged me:
You Need Context
Something I never considered while reading the Bible is knowing the context. Who was the book written to, when was the book written, why did they use certain references and why was that important at the time? Prior to reading this book I read the Bible with the understanding that it is in the past, the people are apostles (in certain books) and that the Old Testament is just about the fall (I was super wrong btw).
One of the 5 P’s that Jen talks about in her book is studying with “Perspective.” Perspective can be defined as the “true understanding of the relative importance of things; a sense of proportion”. An example of this is the differences in culture now and when the book was written. Although people typically aren’t fans of the IRS we don’t go to the level the Pharisees do in the Bible. In Mark they showed as much disdain with Jesus eating with tax collectors as sinners; “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
The tax collectors at that time were Jews who worked for the Roman Empire. People don’t like paying taxes now, imagine if you were paying taxes to an oppressive group and your neighbor was helping them while lining their own pockets… If you didn’t know that, you might have been really confused at why they would be upset and the importance of Jesus eating with them.
This is God’s Story
Our tendency when reading the Bible is to compare the stories to ourselves. I’ve seen myself as Doubting Thomas before and used the lessons in comparison with my life but ultimately the Bible is God’s story. It is His story about the creation, fall, redemption and ultimately restoration. It is about how great of a king He is and not about our trials. Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t rely on the Bible for wisdom but reading that the story is about God was eye opening.
Once I started reading from the perspective that God is at work in everything and the Bible is about Him and His plans my thoughts changed as well. When we think about Jesus laying his life down at the cross, we see it as our redemption moment but how must it have felt to turn His face away from Jesus and allow him to bear our burdens. His grace and love are magnified when I think outside of just my Biblical experience. It seems like common sense to know it has His story but until I read this book I didn’t see it.
In Timothy 3:16-17 it says “16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” So he has declared that we should learn from the Bible but we can also grow in knowing Him and His story through the Bible.
My process with studying the Bible had consisted of:
- Reading scripture
- Finding something interesting
- Research that topic, verse etc.
- Take notes
- Continue reading
It wasn’t the worst way to study but I found after reading this book I could dig in deeper (also there is no wrong way to study). Jen came up with a framework that consists of 5 P’s that will help guide you in studying scripture. What I like about it is that I can really unpack what is going on and it slows me down. I don’t want to rush through the Bible just to say I’ve read it. I want to savor learning it and really enjoy going through His word.
It can be a lot if you are trying to read the entire Bible quickly, but if you want to really understand the text, it’s so helpful. I did find myself even after reading the book, forgetting some of the P’s so I made myself a printable that you can download for free here.
I’m a fan of studying, highlighting, taking notes and digging in so a lot of these were just more tips on how to do them, that was until I read “Patience.” When I learn something, I want to learn it quickly and implement it just as fast. The Bible isn’t designed for that. He is a mysterious God and there are scriptures that we need to ponder. We are being sanctified and that can take time, which can be a hard pill to swallow (I’m very impatient).
If you do have a spare moment throughout the day or can take the time early in the morning, I would suggest picking up Women of the Word. It’s short and lays everything out in a simple way that makes sense.