4 Steps For Devotional Bible Study

I often hear from pastors and church leaders about their struggle in scripture reading for the purpose of devotion and personal growth versus preparing the "next sermon" or "next lesson". So I thought this to be helpful not only for my pastor friends but for others who need helps in establishing a devotional bible study.

1. Always begin with exactly what the passage means. If you don't understand what a passage is saying, your application can be wrong. Let's try an example. (read Ephesians 4:26; what does this verse mean)

Be angry and do not sin. Don't let the sun go down on your anger,

In Ephesians 4:26 Paul was not urging us to show anger based on petty feelings or wounded pride. Paul knew that righteous anger exist. He also knew that this kid of anger can quickly change into anger that is selfish and uncontrolled. Paul was warning us against letting our righteous anger get out of control. Application of a passage must rely on correct interpretation of its meaning.

2. Evaluate the kind of passage you are trying to apply.

You must know whether a passage is talking about a truth that is timeless or temporary. Timeless truth applies to people of any time or circumstance. A temporary truth applies only to a specific individual or group at a specific point in history.

3. Relate the passage to others on the same subject.

This increases your understanding of the meaning of the passage you are studying. Read Matthew 7:7. “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. -- Matthew 7:7 (CSB) Jesus' teachings on prayer suggest that those who keep on asking can expect God to answer their prayers.

(Read James 4:3 and 1 John 5:14-15. think through the ways these verses change the way you would apply Matthew 7:7)

You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. -- James 4:3 (CSB)

This is the confidence we have before him: If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked of him. -- 1 John 5:14-15 (CSB)

Such passages as James 4:3 and 1 John 5:14-15 give other factors to consider in seeking answers to prayer. You will want to modify your understanding of Matthew 7:7 in light of such passages' teachings.

4. Determine the ways the passage can be applied

A passage can be applied in many ways. You can learn a truth about God that you can apply to the political, economic or social arena. You may find a truth about yourself that can give you a higher call of commitment to God's will. You may discover insights that will change your attitudes toward and relationships with coworkers, neighbors and even enemies. You may learn goals and challenges you can pray into reality in your church.