You Can Enjoy the Bible With These 3 Shifts

A Good News Bible and tiny notepad graced my nightstand through my teen years and college. After climbing into bed at night, I’d read a passage and jot the questions my reading inevitably raised. Questions I thought could only be answered in heaven. I was wrong.

During my senior year in college, a Christian retreat peaked my hunger for God. I joined a Bible study led by one of my girlfriends. The Bible came alive and began to make sense. Instead of coming away with only questions, I began to receive answers and hope.

Three changes transformed my Bible reading.

A Shift in Trust

The years I’d read the Bible and not understood it I’d approached the Bible as if I were the authority. The Bible had to pass through the filter of my understanding. What I agreed with, I kept. What didn’t make sense, I dismissed as antiquated and irrelevant.

I basically treated the Bible as if I knew better than it. No wonder it didn’t make sense! Since God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble, this is never a good way to approach the Bible or anything else.

I basically treated the Bible as if I knew better than it. No wonder it didn’t make sense! Since God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble, this is never a good way to approach the Bible or anything else. #Bible #Wisdom Share on X

The gals in this study approached the Bible as if it was what it claimed to be—God’s timeless word. They filtered their opinions through the filter of God’s revealed wisdom. When I approached the Bible with childlike wonder, the Bible made sense. It became exciting and relevant.

A Shift in Power

Another important change I learned was to lean on the Holy Spirit instead of my intellect to understand scripture.

And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. … But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. (1 Cor. 2:12, 14 NLT).

Just as Jesus had to open the minds of His disciples on the road to Emmaus for them to understand the scriptures, I need Him to open my mind. I ask Him to grant me understanding and read the Bible trusting Him to enlighten me.

At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way” (Luke 10:21 NLT).

A Shift in Structure

Out of college I joined the staff of Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ). My director taught our team a simple way to study the scripture. (Click this link to download a free pdf from my resource page on “How to Get More from Your Bible.”)

He suggested we dedicate a notebook for our Bible study. He then explained a simple method he used to process his Bible reading by asking three questions.

  1. “What does it say?” (Factual)

This step taught me to notice the context of a passage. Who’s the author, the audience, the circumstances? If we aren’t clear on this, we can draw wrong interpretations and applications.

For example, are believers or unbelievers being addressed? Israel or the church? When Paul addressed slaves and masters, some applications can apply to the employer/employee relationship. But those relationships are not equal.

  1. “What does it mean?” (Spiritual)

Look for timeless lessons that apply to any culture and era. For example, in 2 Timothy 4:13, Paul wrote Timothy, “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments” (NIV).

The imprisoned apostle literally needs his cloak and parchments. A spiritual lesson might be spiritual leaders have practical needs. Another lesson might be it’s appropriate to ask for help from those who can aid us with our practical needs. A third lesson might be, we should be available to assist a saint in need.

  1. “How does this apply to me, my situation, or culture?” (Practical)

Now we get practical. What changes does this passage prompt you to make in your outlook, attitude, or actions?

From the example above you might write, what Christian leader or fellow believer has a practical need I can meet? Or who can I ask to help me with my need? Or I want to bring Aunt Judy a meal.

You can illustrate what you received from you study. This is optional. I’ve found doing this helps me remember my study better.

After I began reading my Bible this way I stumbled across my little notepad of questions, the ones I thought too deep to be answered. I chuckled. They weren’t deep at all. And I rejoiced. No longer was the Bible a confusing book of riddles. It had become my lifeline. I hope this is true for you. If not, review the changes I made to see which ones might help you.

Click here to comment.


Debbie Wilson

Photo by Rachel Strong on Unsplash

Sometimes I link with these great sites:

#InspireMeMonday, #InstaEncouraements, #TellHisStory and here , #Let’sHaveCoffee#Recharge Wednesday, #Grace&Truth,

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  1. Ann

    This is so simple and practical. I love it! We so overcomplicate things when God made them so simple. Thank you for a perfect reminder Debbie.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Ann, I like simple. I took a course in seminary on how to study the Bible. It was so complicated I never used it. But I’ve learned so much about God and grown from applying this simple method.

  2. Bev Rihtarchik

    I found myself nodding along as I read your post — yes, I’ve thought I’ve known the Bible all too well in my own intellect. The words take on no life without the aid of the Holy Spirit. I liked the practical application steps you shared as well.
    Bev xx

    • Debbie Wilson

      Bev, remembering to ask the Holy Spirit to teach me makes such a difference for me. Especially when I’m wrestling over a passage. I may not receive a bolt of understanding, but He begins to give me understanding even after I leave my study.

  3. Lisa Blair

    Great insights for studying the Bible, Debbie! Thanks for the free resources, you have some great insights! I’m going to share two of them with my teenage daughter as I think they would help her process the Truth of His Word alongside her emotions. I appreciate the parental help!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Wonderful! Thank you, Lisa.

  4. Jeanne Takenaka

    Debbie, I love how practical this is. It is fun to read how God transformed your understanding and approach to His word. Those three questions are great to get us thinking about what we read, especially for those passages we’ve read through many times.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Jeanne, that is so true. These questions have helped me realize how much I had previously overlooked.

  5. Jeannie Waters

    Debbie, thank you for sharing these life-changing shifts. You’re right about this: “When I approached the Bible with childlike wonder, the Bible made sense. It became exciting and relevant.”

    • Debbie Wilson

      Yes, Jeannie, a shift in my attitude made a huge difference! Blessings to you!

  6. Barbara Latta

    Debbie, thanks for sharing these shifts that contain so much insight on gaining wisdom from Scripture.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Barbara!

  7. Becky Johnson

    Thank you for sharing this tool with our women at our retreat as many loved this tool for making scripture real!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Becky, I had so much fun being with you women. What a great group you are!

  8. Evelyn

    This is really good , I will definitely share it with others. Using those simply tools will enchanted any one’s study of God’s Word. I am always looking for ways to maximize my time in His Word.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Evelyn. Yes, we want to keep our time with God fresh!

  9. J.D. Wininger

    Great thoughts Ms. Debbie. I love the idea of a “mindset reset” when it comes to reading our Bible. Reading is vitally important, but so is understanding and application. God’s blessings ma’am, and thank you!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, J.D. Yes, mindset affects everything, including our ability to hear from God.

  10. Jan

    Yes a simple straightforward approach with an open mind…not just for teenagers…then God’ll do the rest.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Amen! Thanks, Jan.

  11. Annie Yorty

    You’ve given a good word here, Debbie. Even when we have been studying the Bible for awhile, we can slip back into the wrong mindset if we’re not careful. Thanks!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Annie, you’re so right. May we never lose the wonder of discovering more about our incomparable God.

  12. Cindi pierce

    Great post, Debbie!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thanks, Cindi.

  13. Jennifer

    Great tips. As I have read through the Bible this year I have used similar techniques and it has been so much more life changing.

    • Debbie Wilson

      That’s awesome, Jennifer!

  14. Yvonne Morgan

    Very simple and clear way to approach reading and understanding the Bible. Thanks for sharing.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Yvonne, thank you for reading.

  15. Joanne Viola

    Debbie, this is such a wonderful way to study God’s Word. Asking ourselves the three questions guides us into making Scripture reading applicable to our lives in an easy and practical way.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Joanne, I’ve studied complicated ways to study the Bible. This one has worked the best for me.

  16. Nancy E. Head

    I love this practical approach to Bible study! Thanks and God bless!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Nancy.

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