Have you ever sat down to watch a movie having no idea what it’s about? Maybe a friend had mentioned it, but you hadn’t ever watched the trailers made for the movie yourself? When this happens, what are you focused on when watching the movie? Are you able to easily see right away all the deeper messages woven into the subplots of the story, or do you find that your mind needs to first grasp the bigger picture of what the movie is all about?
For me, if I have no idea what the main plot of a movie is going into it, my brain will be so focused on learning that first, that I end up completely missing many of the deeper lessons spelled out in those subplots of the story. Then, by the end of the movie I’m left thinking, “Well that was good, but not nearly as good as so and so said,” for although my mind got the jest of it, my heart ended up missing out on those deeper soul changing moments that are needed to solidify a message as “life changing good.” I have found that this can also hold true when it comes to reading books for a Bible study.
When we just jump right in each day into reading the chapters of a book we’re studying, our mind’s first and main focus is on discovering and understanding the main lesson or message of that chapter and in this focus we then end up skimming right over many of those digging deeper moments God has planned for us and without even realizing it! Have you been there, where you finished a chapter and because you got the main jest of it your mind was satisfied but then there’s this unexplainable pang in your heart – this yearning that’s crying out for even more? Well, I’m here to tell you that the pang you’re feeling, that’s the prompting of the Spirit – God calling you into a deeper level of study with Him where he can take those skimmed over lessons left lying on the pages of the book and transcribe them into the depths of your heart!
So how do we do this? How do we dig deeper into the messages of the studies we do to help us un-cover the lessons God has planted for us in those pages? How do we go beyond the satisfaction of the mind and delve deeper into the heart of the messages where the yearnings of our heart can be quenched? If we’re NOT to just nonchalantly charge ahead into the pages of each chapter each day, then what should we do instead?
In Bible/book studies, often times God’s Word is at the foundation of the story or lesson being taught in each chapter and so we will find scripture strategically placed throughout the pages of the book to help the author present and teach those lessons to us. Because of this, one easy and great way for us to discover the main topics of a chapter, BEFORE we actually read the chapter, is to go to God’s Word first on those topics before reading the authors words. Let’s take a quick look at how to specifically put that into action . . .
- When you get out your book to read, take a highlighter and, skimming through the chapter first, highlight the scriptures referred to.
- Then get out your Bible and look up each scripture and mark it.
- Next, read the scripture(s), and the surrounding verses, asking God to reveal to you what the main lesson of the verse(s) is or what He has planned for you to learn through it.
- Lastly, jot down what He’s speaking to you.
Do this for each verse mentioned in the chapter you are going to read that day for the study, but don’t just rush through this. The goal is not to just read each verse. The goal is to discover what lessons God has waiting for you in them and in the pages of the study. This preparation process, when done genuinely, will satisfy your mind by revealing to it the main topics it’s going to encounter in the chapter. This is important because our mind needs to understand the bigger picture, before our hearts can be opened up to the even deeper messages that are there waiting for us.
Now, with a prepared mind and open heart, we can go and read the chapter and you will be surprised by how much more than just the main message, you will suddenly find yourself seeing, hearing, and understanding. Those deeper lessons that God has planned for you will be revealed because your mind doesn’t have to work so hard on just grasping what the chapter is all about. God has already laid that foundation of truth for you through the reading of His Word and now He can build an even bigger message upon it through the lessons of the study!
So, if you want to dig deeper into a Bible/book study, don’t just dive right in and hit play, instead, go to God’s Word first – the creator of the main message – the one who holds the plan for your life in the palm of His hands. Let him show you the highlights of the story by opening your Bible and reading His Words on the topic first, so that He can prepare your mind and open your heart for the plots He wants to reveal to you in the pages of that book. Yes, let God’s Word be the movie trailer for every chapter of the studies you do!