Throughout April, I read Ephesians chapter 2. That’s it.
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” – Romans 10:17
Clearly, I ran across other Scripture passages through church or referenced in a book, etc. But for my focused, personal Bible reading and study, I read only one chapter, many times.
I didn’t come up with this idea. For one thing, there’s plenty of research out there, telling us that it takes about 30 days to create a habit. I would add that, for many of us, it takes quite a bit longer to create a habit that STICKS. I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent plenty of time in frustration with myself. This is arguably one of THE most important disciplines we, as Christians, can keep in our lives, and yet it’s been a constant struggle.
There’s no great secret as to why this happens. In the uninterrupted, focused time of prayer and communing with God through His word, I’m filled, I’m renewed in my mind, self is put to death yet again. And I become a direct threat to the enemy who would use every distraction possible to derail spiritual growth and production of spiritual fruit.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12
Taking this time with my God each day is not a legalism thing. It is a survival of my soul thing. I’m eternally bound for heaven, but my spirit can become so bogged down by the worries and distractions of this world that I fail to thrive spiritually during my time here. I REQUIRE constant intake of spiritual food from–you guessed it–prayer and the word of God.
I picked up this specific idea listening to some older sermon by John McArthur, where he suggested this method as one way to more deeply absorb a segment of Scripture. Just as with other books, you gain something a little different with each reading. Unlike other books, my intention is to allow the Word to soak into my soul and thoroughly change me.
So how has this gone for me?
I do realize April isn’t QUITE over yet, but I have a purpose in writing this now…read till the end!
I’m forced to dig into those passages that are so easy to skim.
Some verses are just hard. Some spiritual concepts are complicated, no matter the translation. Or it takes more time to get a good handle on them and then understand how to apply them. So, if they’re read along with a big chunk (say, several chapters at once), they can be easily skimmed over. The same thing goes for reading a chapter for just one day, and then moving on. I may gather something from it, but it’s likely only surface-level.
It guarantees becoming much more familiar with the truths of said book–possibly to the point of memorization.
I’m thankful to say that, by this point in the month, I have a better grasp on Ephesians 2 than just “somewhere in there is the verse about being saved by grace through faith”. There is SO MUCH packed into one little chapter! That’s one of my favorite things about the Bible, and something I notice often in the epistles: the co-mingling of foundational, heaven-and-earth truths with the nitty-gritty application to Christian living.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
One thing I’ve been doing this time through (this is the second month I’ve used this study method) is to choose a few verses from the chapter that I want to memorize. Then, each day after reading, I write them out, along with any notes from what I learned that particular day.
This has been really helpful in the long view, to memorize Scripture, but it’s also HUGELY beneficial in the day-to-day RIGHT NOW. Because I’m reading/studying/writing out the same small passage, it gets stuck in my head for the rest of the day like that one song K-Love plays every five minutes. Good stuff.
It’s helping me become a better researcher, and better at studying for myself.
Simply reading, re-reading, and meditating on Scripture is vital. But it can also be helpful to read the reflections of those who are more knowledgeable, both about the Bible and about the history and culture of the time of its writing. This month I’ve sought out trusted commentaries, and done some history research along with reading the actual text. This can help me to keep from drawing a 21st century meaning from a passage without knowing historical context, and inadvertently twisting the truth.
Lastly, and most importantly, I’ve had to be still and reflect on the character of God.
I’m not so good at this. My mind likes to do this thing I call the “brain buzz” — not nearly as much fun as it sounds. Makes it very difficult to focus on just one thing, like involuntary multitasking. So this kind of discipline, restricting myself to just one chapter, dulls the buzz a little. Especially helpful is the writing of Scripture, and how it causes me to more thoroughly process what I’ve read.
This month, there was SO MUCH in Ephesians 2 about the incredible love of God, and the way He includes us in His bigger plan.
I’ve read about this truth countless times. That’s sometimes the downside of having been exposed to the Bible from a young age. It’s so easy to become numb to something that should pierce straight to my heart. Fortunately, familiarity is not an obstacle for God. There’s a reason we’re counseled to meditate on the Word, not just to read it.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” – Psalm 1:1-3
There’s not just an instruction there, but also a promise.
I don’t take that to mean a promise of physical prosperity. I’ve experienced enough life so far to know THAT is certainly not guaranteed. But I can grasp firmly the promise of prosperity to my soul. My spirit will grow and will yield fruit, IF it’s continually digging into the law of the Lord.
As I said before (assuming you’ve stuck with me and are still reading), I have a reason for giving a recap of this month’s study before the month has actually ended.
I would love for you to join me in this challenge during the month of May!
Now, there are no rules. Honestly. We’re big kids. Join of your own volition, choose whatever length of Scripture suits you to study. The intention is to keep one another accountable to meaningful, consistent study of the Bible.
If you’re interested in doing this together, let me know in the comments below or on my Facebook page!
I’ll be checking in periodically with whoever expresses interest, and would LOVE to hear from you about what you’re learning! If you’d like to study the same passage together, I’ll be headed straight into Ephesians 3 for the month of May.
Will you be committed to consistent, in-depth Bible study in May?
If you’ve really grown in this area already, what have you learned in the process to share with the rest of us?