Welcome to the Word over World Series! Here we have been discussing different ways to intentionally be in the Word before jumping into the world. Today we are discussing a few of the ways I currently find myself studying and delighting in His Word. So far we have discussed using the Write the Word Journals and Prayer.
My study time has looked very different as I have grown and as I face many seasons of uncertainty and inconsistency. I want to talk about the small ways and the larger ways I connect with the Lord. Please remember as your read that:
He doesn’t require ANYTHING but our best and our WHOLE heart. ⠀
We need to listen to Him and allow Him to convict our hearts about how He wants us to delight in Him. Your time in His Word may look different each season, and that’s okay.
Before we jump in, I want to briefly talk about different translations of the Bible. My favorite translation of the Bible is NLT (New Living Translation) but I shuffle between NLT, NIV, CSB, ESV, and occasionally the Message Bible. It is important to note that the Message Bible is a secondary translation as it is Eugene Peterson’s interpretation not a translation. With that, I would highly advise you to not use the Message Bible as your main study translation. Once I have gained the context of the verses in a primary translation or two, I will sometimes use the Message to get another perspective/ modern illustration of the verses; but again, I do not use it as a primary source because it is an interpretation.
Verse of the Day
This is one of the easiest ways we can be spurred to get in the Word and be encouraged. I get an email from klove everyday with a verse of the day. The YouVersion Bible app also has a verse of the day.
Reading the Whole Chapter
You can take your verse of the day one step further and read the whole chapter. This is a very simple way to gain context and grow our faith. If you are in the YouVersion app just click on the verse of the day, it will open up that verse, and give you the option to read the whole chapter; plus it only takes a few minutes.
Another way we can be in His Word is through our devotionals. Now I am not a huge fan of devotionals unless I am pairing it with God’s Word; I want to make sure I’m hearing from God Himself and not solely someone else. To clarify- there is nothing wrong with devotionals,
we just need to make sure we are hearing directly from Him more than we are hearing others talk about Him.
Most devotionals or journals use a short passage to reference and I would encourage you to read the whole passage/chapter. I tend to utilize the YouVersion Bible App when doing my Write the Word Journal which makes it so easy for me to read the whole passage. Context is key! When we know the context of what God is saying we are less likely to misinterpret His Word or be likely to use it to justify our desires.
Bible Reading Plans
Over the years, I have used many different reading plans. The plan I have used 2-3 times is a one year plan that has you read some of the Old Testament and some of the New Testament each day. I preferred this plan because – to be honest – I found the Old Testament to boring and heavy on it’s own. I wasn’t in a place to truly study the Word one book at a time- which is okay we all start somewhere! I used this Bible in a year plan every time (up until 2020) I decided to read through the whole Bible in a year. There are also WONDERFUL resources and reading plans on the YouVersion app for each book, the whole Bible, the New Testament, the Old Testament, and even reading plans for different seasons of life. Jared and I are using a New Testament reading plan in that app for us to study together!
In 2020, I made a plan to read through the Bible canonically (from front to back) in two years with this plan. Now, 2020 held a heavy load of disease progression that would have happened without the world being in a pandemic. So I was only able to read it consistently for the first quarter, (which is 1/8 of it because it’s a two year plan.) I am currently continuing on little by little.
As I am learning that God wants my heart most, knowing that truth gives me the freedom to not be hung up in the guilt of not following a reading plan perfectly.
Although I bought this Bible with the intention of only using it to go through it canonically – I am adjusting to my circumstances and knowing that even the best laid intentions can change and that’s okay!! I am currently still slowly going through the Old Testament canonically; while also going through the New Testament with my husband. I don’t have set timelines for each of these currently. I have a goal this year to read 85 chapters of the Bible this year and 45 chapters in the book of Psalms so there is lots of room for grace but also lots of room to surpass that goal.
This has been my favorite way to be in the Word as of late! One of my 2020 goals was to study the Word of God deeply, and it has transformed me. I didn’t end up sticking to the timeline I envisioned going through the reading plan I started, but I am studying the Bible little by little honoring my body’s progression while doing my best to honor Jesus.
I have 7 different things I look for when reading through the Word with a highlight and pen color for each area so I can easily distinguish my notes. (I quickly let go of the expectation to use shapes for certain words because it was too much at this time.)
- Yellow is for declaring the Truths of who God says I am
- Blue is for His promises
- Peach is for declaring statements about the Truths of who God is
- Green is for noting growth, wisdom, commands, and christian living
- Navy is for the questions that I have that I go to commentaries with and more notably my “dad” highlight as he is my “on call” pastor
- Pink is for areas that talk about worship and prayer
- Purple is for intentionally learning about how Jesus and others dealt with reputation and harassment in a biblical way
Occasionally I use some commentaries, but I mainly enjoy sitting quietly with my phone on do not disturb with maybe some worship music playing and prayerfully dig in. When I don’t have the energy to be in my physical Bible, I do this with the YouVersion Bible app. At this point I have memorized what each color stand for so I just use the highlight and add a note option in the app (and then I transfer it into my Bible when I feel up to it!) I also normally do 2-4 chapters each sitting.
There is no hierarchy to reading the Bible on a app versus reading a physical Bible. Whatever your preference, God honors your diligence to be in His Word not in how you do it. The only wrong way to read your Bible is to not read it.
The one other way I want to talk about studying the Word is through Multi-Translation Studying; which is where you study verse by verse with the help of other trusted translations and commentaries to get the most out of each verse. I have been specifically doing this in the Psalms as I work to learn and be encouraged to worship through and in brokenness. I am using the Illustrated Faith NIV Psalms + Proverbs Bible Journal. It is spiral bound and I LOVE it! I also like to pray through the Psalm in my own words after each chapter. I typically do one chapter at a time.
For colors I use:
- Pink for NLT
- Orange for the Message
- Purple for CSB
- Blue for the Songs of Jesus commentary/devotionals (if you are reading through the psalms this is the BEST companion. My mentor gifted a copy to me and it has been transformational in my quest to worship in brokenness.)
- Navy blue for the Enduring Word commentary
- Dark Purple for my prayers
Where to Go from here?
No matter how you choose to study the Word, getting in the Word is what’s important. I do a mix of Bible Journaling, Write the Word Journaling, and Multi-Translation Studying in the Psalms weekly. I see how my body feels and how many spoons I have available that day.
Please note that it took me quite a while to get where I am today so PLEASE do not let this discourage you. Take it little by little one chapter at a time. If you haven’t gone through the Bible I encourage you to start with a simple reading plan (and don’t let the schedule hold you back- you don’t have to read through the Bible in a year!) Maybe start by just highlighting verses that stick out to you, noting the verses that you have questions about and researching those, or do something entirely different!
God did not create us to be the same in how we do things or study, He just created all of us to be in fellowship with Him in His Word!
Cassie Nolin is a married spoonie who lives the chronic illness life with EDS + Co. (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and it’s comorbid conditions.) She challenges others to choose grace over guilt while goal setting, and is in ministry part time serving the online community through Grace + Goals and The Spoonie Study. She loves planting, hand lettering, and sharing the hope she has found in Jesus. Her blog, Living the Chronic Illness Life, is in the top 100 chronic illness blogs and in 2019 she launched her podcast, Chronically Cultivating, where Cassie encourages women to live authentic and intentional lives through their diagnosis’ not in spite of them. You can learn more about her at www.livingthechronicillnesslife.com