Study Habits

“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.“  Acts 17:11 (NIV)
 

Studying scripture builds and strengthens faith in three ways: 1) Knowledge of scripture reminds us of God’s promises and connects us with Christ, 2) Application of scripture further deepens our understanding of God’s Word and, 3) Studying scripture with other believers builds Christian Fellowship.

As a child and youth, growing up in the United Methodist Church (Cresaptown United Methodist), scripture was a big part of my faith foundation.  Through the loving guidance of Miss Dolly, Miss May, and Mr. Porter, we learned the Beatitudes, John 3:16, the 23rd Psalm, the 10 commandments, and the passages of the creation story (among others).  However, I would not exactly classify this as studying scripture.  I joined my first Bible study group as a freshman in college, but I would say that “study” was still not a true description.  It was more like a high level group discussion with a lot of memorization.

It was not until I was in my mid-20’s that I experienced the true definition of studying scripture.  My mother had been traveling to The Cove in Asheville, NC a couple of times a year to hear various Christian speakers, to take part in intensive study sessions, or just to spend some time of renewal at one of their various retreats.  She invited me to a session, in which John Piper did a deep dive into the book of Romans.  What an amazing experience!  For four days, Dr. Piper opened my eyes to this incredible letter.  In addition, we were able to dig deeper during small group time and then reflect on all that we absorbed while taking in the beautiful scenery on daily walks through the numerous trails or sitting quietly in the beautiful chapel.

I would love to say that this experience changed my spiritual life and that when I returned home, I made it a daily habit of studying the Word.  However, as often happens, the daily grind of life awaited me when I returned home.  This experience did plant a seed and a desire to learn more about God’s Holy Word and how it applies to my life.  So, over the years, I returned to the Cove or other similar places (Mountaintop in Wheeling, WV, Tuscarora Conference Center in Mt. Bethel, PA and Sandy Cove in North East, MD) for Christian renewal, fellowship and reflection.

But, it wasn’t until about 15 years ago that I truly developed a somewhat daily habit of studying scripture on my own (rather than dabbling in it a couple of times of year at various conferences).   And, this practice has allowed me to better understand God’s role in my life and has served as a guide in my daily activities.  I also have a greater appreciation for the amazing world God has given us thanks to these in-depth studies.

The final step, though, was to get back into the practice of studying God’s word with fellow believers on a regular basis through Sunday School and Bible Study groups.  This not only has given me a routine, but it has a built-in accountability factor.  In addition, I have learned so much more from the various viewpoints I have encountered with these groups than I would have with self-study.  Lastly, Christian fellowship encourages me as I travel on my lifelong faith journey.

Speaking of journeys…one of the greatest experiences of my life was to travel to the Holy Land in 2018 to see scripture come to life.  The travel company gave us some reference material to prepare us for our journey, but it was not until we were walking where Jesus had walked that it really hit home.  In addition, Pastor Tony led us in a devotion at every location with an applicable scripture reading.  When we were back home a small group of us (more fellowship opportunities) met weekly for several weeks to reflect and process our amazing experiences.  To this day, when I read scripture that takes place in one of the locations we visited, the scriptures takes on a much deeper meaning than it did prior to this amazing journey.

 

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.   Romans 15:4 (NIV)

 


One Response to “Study Habits”

  1. Bonita Cadle says:

    Beautiful. Thank you!
    Could you share some information about the renewal/retreats you’ve been in. Maybe we could take a church group to one!

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