Whitney Capps follows up last week’s post with some practical application steps. Don’t miss next week when my adorable (and very wise) friend finishes her series on teaching from the Word with a vlog containing even more practical tips.
“so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
Studying Scripture is just plain hard. I have considered countless ways countless times that would make it quick and painless. I’m becoming more convinced it doesn’t exist. We are meant to struggle and scrape and come up short. It’s all part of a divine plan that reminds us we cannot do this alone and that we were never expected to.
Jesus Christ gave us the third part of the Trinity to enable bible study. As ministers of the gospel we sometimes need to be reminded that the Spirit doesn’t just equip us to share the gospel but to understand it as well. He does not want us to get it wrong. The Spirit does not equip us to passionately deliver falsehood. He desires that our messages have clarity and veracity and passion.
When I remind myself of this fact, I more confidently and intentionally study the Word with the purpose of teaching it. Here are a few practical tips I use:
1. When preparing for a talk, I don’t study for that talk. I simply study the Word. This takes the pressure off of me. This method ensures that I don’t try to make the text say something it isn’t really saying. I’m not trying to the make the Word work; I’m letting the Spirit speak. The most compelling messages I have were developed from lessons God was teaching me personally. After a period of time and appropriate spiritual sweat equity, He granted me permission to share these lessons with others.
It’s tough not to worry that this method won’t lead to thematic material development. But it works. Themes emerge and God connects passages of Scripture that to me seemed unrelated. That’s when I know the Spirit is providing cohesion and discernment. I am not manipulating material. I don’t have an agenda. Of course, He knows how best to support each point and amplify each passage. Scripture interprets Scripture. After all, He tells His story better than I do.
2. When studying the Word, I ask a lot of questions. Have you ever read the Bible and thought it was a bit wordy or redundant? I have. I don’t mean to be irreverent at all. But in the midst of some passages, I’ve asked God why He didn’t edit a certain part out. The reason is simple. Every word, every phrase, every letter in black, white and blood-bought red is pregnant with meaning. So I ask Him why He preserved that detail for all eternity. What does it mean? What was that detail’s significance both then and now?
3. When studying the Word, I try to read it like it’s new. This practice takes time and work. If you’ve been studying Scripture or listening to sermons most of your life it will be hard to read each passage taking in each word as though you are looking at it for the first time. This is tough for me. I’m a preacher’s kid. Over the last 30 years, I’ve heard my Dad deliver countless sermons on hundreds of passages of Scripture. But because the Word is living and active, it breathes and moves. The truths presented never change because He never changes. However, the Spirit may use old passages in new ways. If I don’t presume I already “know” that passage, I may find exciting new principles and applications from stories I’ve read numerous times.
Check back in next week. I’ll be sharing a video blog (is that called a vlog?) in which I’ll give examples of how these tactics have impacted my teaching. Chat with you soon!
Wife, Mom, lover of God, enemy of Satan. I’m striving for holiness and coming up WAY short. Praise God-He’s made up not the difference but the sum total. Grace that is greater than all our sin! And in case this seems too heavy, I love shoes, handbags, a good eyebrow wax, and my iphone.
Visit Whitney’s blog to get to know her even better.