s

Dear Mushka,

Bible Studying Tips

Bible Studying Tips

Don’t complicate it, Sisters. Just open up your Bible and read a verse or a chapter. Read the same thing at lunch and then before bed. Think about the words during your day-- sometimes I even write a key word or phrase down on my arm as a reminder! Pray through them and watch God work.

Good Places to Start in you’re Feeling Lost:

Genesis 1
Psalm 1
John 1
Philippians 1

I often open my Bible up to what was preached through at church on Sunday if I’m not sure where to start.

While I’m reading, I keep a Brain Dump post it next to me. When something comes to mind, I jot it down and move along. It’s all there waiting for me when I’m done and I don’t lose focus.

Do NOT use your notes app in your phone for this. You’ll be scrolling Instagram before you’re even aware.

If you’re having a hard time prioritizing studying your Bible, consider praying bits of Psalm 119.

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

I don’t know about you, but I NEED a light to show me what is right daily and even hourly.

Part of why we try to read God’s words daily and memorize scripture is to strengthen our minds for hardships in this world.

Context is also super important as we learn and understand books of the Bible. Even if all I have time for in a day is reading and comprehending an intro page, it’s time well spent.

If you only have a few minutes to read the word today, don’t let that stop you from jumping in.

When you have a busy weekend ahead, fight for your Bible study time more than ever.

Read one chapter.

Find one thing that chapter teaches you about God. Think on that aspect of His character all day long.

It can start with this prayer:

God, allow me to find more comfort and joy in you than I do my bed, Help me get up in the morning and then wake up my mind and body enough to meet you in this place. Amen.If you want to read your Bible more often, keep it accessible. Mine lives on the kitchen counter so I can read a verse or two in between meal prep and dishes and life.

I underline using different colors when reading a Psalm to make notes of who God is and what we’re supposed to do (or not do) because of it.

This may only take you ten minutes. Perfect when you’re short on time.

It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

QUIET TIME: A ROUTINE THAT'S HELPED ME

QUIET TIME: A ROUTINE THAT'S HELPED ME

I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man may be nourished. -George Muller

For years, I'd sit down to spend time with God & then pause because I didn't actually know what to do next. I felt like I was wasting my time, staring at a random Bible page or throwing prayers up based on whatever popped into my groggy mind. 

After reading this book, I decided to come up with a consistent routine for how I spend my time with God in the morning. Do I stick to it 100% everyday? No way. But it allows me to come prepared and make the very best use of my time with the Lord.  

I hope seeing this written out helps you prioritize your own time in God's presence. I'm not superwoman, and different seasons of life allow me different availability. But what I know is that I will never, ever regret meeting with my Lord & Savior every day, and He is worth the very best I have to offer. 

6:00 Alarm goes off. I get up immediately; that snooze button is dangerous! If I'm feeling extra tired, I quickly pray for energy and joy. God is so faithful to give it! I go to the bathroom, feed the cat, and fill my bottle of water. 

6:10 Sit in a chair in my office with my basket that has everything I need in it. Bible, prayer notebook, memory verse box, pencil, post-its (for brain dumping), etc. Having everything there and ready for me is crucial. Also: water, a blanket, and kleenex! 

6:10-6:15 Work my way through my scripture memory box. I use the system I wrote about here; it's such a quick and effective way to store God's words deep in my heart. When I'm ready for a new verse, I'll also use this time to write it out on a card. 

6:15-6:45 Read my Bible. You can read about the chronological plan I'm using right here. Most days, this looks like 3-4 chapters at a time. After I read, I think through a few questions; sometimes I write the answers down and other times I reflect in my head.

What necessary context do I need to remember from what I just read? What does this text show me about God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)? What does it show me about myself (sins I need to confess, examples to follow, promises to claim, etc)? And then how would these answers change my life if I took them seriously (what false ideals could I throw off, why might God be showing this to me now)?

Thinking through these answers allows me to move from reading God's words to meditating on them. If you've never done this before, it's where I've seen the most transformation in my own life. God's words are living and active... and it really helps to reflect on them beyond zooming through the assigned chapters.

6:45-7:00 Pray. First, I pray the ACTS acronym regarding what I've just read in the Bible. Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. It helps solidify what I've read and allows the information to go from my head to my heart.

For example, if I just read about God leading the Israelites out of Egypt, I'd praise His strength and power; I could confess the times I don't trust Him to bring me out of a hard situation; I may thank Him for His constant leading in my life or for the examples we have in Exodus; I could ask Him to deliver me from a hard time. Something like that :) 

Then I use these sheets for other specific needs; I talk all what that looks like for me in these Instagram story highlights. Basically, I have a few things I pray for daily and then I flip to my day-of-the-week page and pray for those things/people. 

It feels funny at first, but praying aloud is a great way to stay focused and alert. I find myself less distracted, and more aware of who I'm talking to when I actually say my words aloud. Try it! 

7:00+ My boys start to stir at 7:00 which usually ends my morning time, but if I have a few extra minutes I listen to a worship song and/or read a chapter of a God-focused book I'm working my way through. I may also evaluate my goals, write down wonderful deeds of the Lord (Psalm 9:1), or sit and meditate on a specific verse. These last three things are all in my prayer notebook so I have them there at the ready!

During the day: You can read about how I try to tie the Gospel into our days right here. Sometimes, I miss my quiet morning time and instead work the things above into my hours with little boys around my feet. It's valuable and God-honoring even in the chaos.

1:00pm: I usually sit down to work on Dear Mushka right after my boys head down for a nap. I start this time by saying/paraphrasing the Lord's Prayer. It's a great way for me to recalibrate and meet the Lord mid-day. 

9:15pm: I try to head to bed around this time so that I can read/pray and be asleep by ten (so I can restfully get up at six the next morning!). Sometimes I choose a Psalm to pray through, but right now I'm reading a chapter of this book. It's so good, I often read the same chapter a few nights in a row. 

And then I start the whole thing over again the next morning! For me, doing this 6-7 days a week is really helpful. My body clock knows what to expect and wakes itself up naturally. I let myself sleep in on Sundays if I need to, but truthfully it's become a time I don't want to miss if I can help it! 

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lordand on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. -Psalm 1:1-3

 

LET'S READ THROUGH THE BIBLE (TOGETHER!)

LET'S READ THROUGH THE BIBLE (TOGETHER!)

Starting January 1, I'm reading through the Bible with a small group I'm a part of, and wanted to extend the invitation to you, too! 

JOIN IN

To join in, download The Bible App on your phone. 

Then sign up for this chronological plan. We're going to read the Bible chronologically to better understand the historical context and to piece together the Bible as one whole, continuous story. 140 people can join me right here, but if the group gets full it doesn't matter-- we can still all do it together! 

You're welcome to read on your phone, listen to the day's reading on your phone, or read on your Bible. Here's a print-off to follow if you'd rather read that way (it's what I'll be doing most days!)

As a bonus, I'll also be tuning into this podcast as frequently as I can. I really respect Tara Leigh and know she'll bring helpful wisdom and focus on her daily five(ish) minute recap of the day's readings. I think it might help you, too! 

 

HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE ME? 

I know reading through the Bible in one year sounds intimidating, but the truth is that it only takes about 12 minutes a day to read the Bible from cover to cover. Of course, you'll want to dedicate more time as you you begin a new book of the Bible (context is so important!) and you'll want to save at least a few minutes at the end of your time for reflection and prayer over what you've just read. But on average? 20-30 minutes y'all!

You.Can.Do.This.

Note: A study Bible can be a huge help as you begin to understand proper context. I love this one

This (and this) is also a great resource as you begin a new book of the Bible. I used these videos last year as a helpful guide, and will reference them again this time around! They're less than 10 minutes long and can really help you understand what you're about to read.  

 

PITFALLS

Usually, I wake up at 6:00am to read and pray for roughly 50 minutes before my boys wake up at 7:00am. On days when I'm not able to do this (sickness, vacation, new baby, etc), I'll find time to read aloud to my kids over lunch or listen the the audio version in the car. And if I fall a day or two behind, I'll catch up over the weekend. 

Planning is key-- when will you prioritize this in your day and what will be your backup plan?

Another thing you might run into is conflict with what you're reading. Maybe reading through Old Testament laws and genealogies is uninteresting? Or maybe you come face to face with a characteristic about God that feels different (and unsettling) from what you've always thought? 

Press on, Sister. 

For me, it is so helpful to think about the word of God like a meal. After all, Jesus calls Himself Everlasting Water and says that man must live on the Words of God, not just bread alone. (John 4:14 & Matthew 4:4). 

When we consistently miss meals, we get hangry. We make bad decisions, we feel tired, and ultimately we malnourish. 

The same is true for our souls. When we wake up and think we don't need to prioritize time in the Word, we begin to rely on our own (failing) capabilities. Our hearts and attitudes eventually malnourish!

Instead, let's savor the promises in Psalm 19 and call them to mind when we're feeling unmotivated or frustrated. Look at what God says about His words!

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
    enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
    enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
    and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.

MOSTLY

Read the Bible to find God, not yourself.

The Bible is not, primarily, a guide book for our lives or a description of ourselves. It is a book about the Triune God; it tells us who He is, what He's done, and what He will do again. When we read to find Him first, we learn to love every word-- even the confusing, difficult, and slow ones-- because they offer insight into His full character. They allow us to fall in love with our Father & King & Helper through the revelation He's offered us about Himself, and we begin to long for more and more of those glimpses. 

And as James 4:8 says, when we draw near to God he absolutely draws near to us. 

Let's draw near together, friends. xx

(I'll be sharing more on Instagram throughout the year! @dearmushka)