Devotionals

Week 4

Week Twenty-four, Day One

Digging Even Deeper

Great job so far! Congratulations on becoming a pro at two methods of personal Bible study. Now it’s time to add the third and last Bible study method to be included in this nine-month journey. Because this method of Bible study is more involved than the others, you will need to “cut” a little more time out of your daily schedule to master it. How much really depends on you and what you hope to gain from your personal Bible study time.

The CUT Method
The “CUT Method” of personal Bible study is the knife in the set of study tools that you have acquired. If you follow it closely, you will gain a broader, better, and more detailed understanding of any scripture that you read and how it fits within the Bible as a whole.

The CUT Method is so named because it requires you to look at a passage of scripture three times before leaving it; once for Context, once for Understanding, and once for the application of Truth.

Context
When reading for Context, ask yourself this question: “What’s going on here and how does it fit with what I already know to be true?”

If you are jumping into the middle of a book, make sure to read over the content just Before and After the passage that you are reading to make sure that you aren’t missing any background or additional thoughts that would make what you are studying more clear. By skipping this step, you can misinterpret a passage of scripture in a big way! To understand what a passage really means, you cannot just read one verse. You need to get the “context.”

If you are using a study Bible, you will find most of the following information in the book introduction. If you aren’t using a study Bible, borrow or buy a Bible commentary or go online to www.biblegateway.com, an excellent resource for anyone looking to study God’s Word. Many times, too, you will find that the information is given in the text itself, if you read closely.

Make sure to write down what you discover so that you can refer back to it later and build on what you know rather than starting all over again each time you revisit a book or passage!

Discover the AuthorAudience, and Purpose. Who wrote it? To whom? Why did they write this? Figure out TimePlace, and Setting. When was it written? Where was it written? Under what circumstances was it written (consider both the events taking place in the author’s life and historical events affecting the social climate)? Just do your best to get a “feel” for what was going on when it was written.

Today, let’s practice reading for Context while revisiting some basic Bible doctrine.

Find Colossians 1:15-13 . For the sake of comparison, read through this passage just as you normally would. Do a quick study of the passage using either the God Follower or Target Method.

Now, read through the passage again. This time, read for Context. Read the material before and after the passage you just read (basically all of Colossians 1). Look for author, audience, and purpose (this is in the introduction to Colossians if you are using a study Bible). Determine the time, place, and setting. How does this knowledge enhance (deepen the significance or meaning of) what you learned using the God Follower or Target Method just a few moments ago?

Tomorrow, we’ll practice reading for Understanding.

Include the following in your personal prayer time:

  • Thank God for His Word and for those who wrote down the things that He wants you to know so long ago.
  • Ask God to give you boldness as you learn His Word so that you can share what you know with others.
  • My family Monday…

 

Week Twenty-four, Day Two

Understanding

After reading a passage and looking for the “context,” step two of the CUT method is reading forUnderstanding. After determining the context, ask yourself this question: “What does it mean?” To discover this, you need to find the parts that you do understand and the parts you do not understand.

Try one or both of the following ways to begin:

In your Bible, highlight or underline any phrases or words that stand out or “speak” to you and circle any words or phrases that you don’t understand or seem unclear in some other way.

In your journal, paraphrase (put into your own words) the passage. If you can re-write it in your own words, then you probably have a basic understanding of the passage. If you get stuck re-writing, you will know where to start researching more.

Now, begin digging deeper by doing any or all of the following (whatever you chose to make time for):

See if your passage has a footnote in your Bible (consult the front of your Bible to learn how to use your Bible’s footnoting system). Read any commentary that you find there and/or look up any relevant verses listed in the margin of your Bible next to that verse’s reference.

Look up unclear words or phrases in the concordance or topical index of your Bible. Again, read the commentary or look up relevant verses.

Consult additional Bible study aids: commentaries, Bible dictionaries, etc. You can also visitwww.biblegateway.com to search for the answers to your questions in the online free commentaries.

If you remember reading or studying similar passages of scripture before, read them again. This is where it really helps to have kept notes in your journal to look back on. A basic principle to remember about studying the Bible is that many times a difficult passage is explained by a more simple to understand passage somewhere else. Allow the Bible to explain the Bible.

Keep following all leads until your curiosity is satisfied.

Don’t be discouraged if you are unable to find the answers to all of your questions immediately. You can’t learn everything in one day. Keep track of your questions. Over time, God will reveal to you what you need to know and when you need to know it. The important thing is that you make a sincere effort to seek answers and know the Truth.

Down the road, when you are studying the Bible independently of any guide, including this one, you may choose to spend days or even weeks studying one passage of scripture. For right now, follow the plan that we lay out for you and do what you can in the amount of time that you have.

Review your context notes over Colossians 1 from yesterdayRead Colossians 1 again, but this time read for Understanding. Experiment with each of the suggestions listed above. Be sure to give yourself time to explore as many leads as you can. Take notes as you explore.

Include the following in your personal prayer time:

  • Tell God what you learned today and thank Him for guiding your thoughts and blessing you with the desire and ability to learn.
  • Thank God for taking away any excuses that you may have used before for not reading/studying your Bible.
  • The church I belong to Tuesday…

 

Week Twenty-four, Day Three

Applying Truth

Step three of the CUT method is applying truth. When deciding how to apply truth, ask yourself this question: “Where do I go from here?”

Take all of the insight that you have gained over your first two readings of a particular passage and give yourself some time to think about it. Allow the Holy Spirit to show you what the knowledge that you have just gained has to do with you personally. Let Him show you where your choices fail to line up with God’s will for your life. Chances are the Holy Spirit has already started calling your attention to specific ideas as you did your best to understand what you were reading.

It is especially critical to write down your thoughts during this stage of Bible study. This is where you keep track of what God is doing in your life and the direction He seems to be taking you. This is where you record your thoughts while they are fresh, before human reason and the troubles of the day rob your memory and dull your sensitivity. Reviewing these notes later will keep you accountable to yourself and to God. If you don’t know what to write in your journal, follow these guidelines until you get the hang of it:

Encouragement

Were you reminded of any truths? Which of your thoughts were confirmed (proven right) by what you studied today? In what areas of your life were you encouraged to “keep on keeping on?”

Challenge

What changes did God ask you to make in your life as a result of your study? Be as specific as possible on this one. How will your life be different today, tomorrow, and next week as a result of what you learned?

Questions

Finally, what questions do you still have? With which ideas do you continue to struggle?

Now, spend some time in prayer thanking God for encouraging you, challenging you, and drawing you to dig even deeper into His Word. Spend time confessing any sin He has revealed to you and make any commitments He leads you to make.

Go back to Colossians 1 and practice applying the Truth that you pulled from this passage over the past couple of days.

Include the following in your personal prayer time:

  • Thank God for the encouragement that you get from studying His word. List some specific ways that you were encouraged by Colossians 1.
  • Ask God for the courage to take responsibility for the things that you learn in your personal Bible study, even though no one else but Him would know if you tried to ignore His voice.
  • Witness Wednesday…

 

Week Twenty-four, Day Four

“It really doesn’t do any good to study your Bible if you aren’t going to use it. I know plenty of Christians who are stuck on themselves because they think they know so much. No one wants to be around someone like that. They want to be around people who practice what they preach and love them for real… They want to see Jesus even more than they want to hear about him. Proud Christians are a real turn-off.”

Susan, youth parent

Are you ready? It’s time to put it all together. Remember, do what you can in the amount of time that you have. Give your best effort. Concentrate. The goal is to learn and be challenged so that you can get to know your Father better, not to impress.

Use the CUT Method (all three steps at once) to study Colossians 2.

Include the following in your personal prayer time:

  • Thank God for giving you the tools to study His word on your own.
  • Thank God for the opportunity to communicate with Him on such an intimate level.
  • Thirsty Thursday…

 

 

Week Twenty-four, Day Five

So, how does it feel to know that you can study your Bible on your own? You now have three effective Bible study methods under your belt, ready to be used at any given moment.

Over time, you will probably develop your own style of Bible study by combining components of all three methods. You may have already done so. However, it is important that you continue to use the CUT Method for the next week or two just to make sure that you are as familiar with it as you are with the other two methods you have learned. It would be a shame to forget something that could help you grow spiritually. CUT takes more time and effort, but you will also have the opportunity to learn more insight as you study.

Use the CUT Method to study Colossians 3:1-17.

Include the following in your personal prayer time:

  • Ask God to use His word to clean your heart and shape you into the image of Christ.
  • Commit to live what you learn as you continue to study the Bible on your own.
  • Friends Friday…

 

The Weekend

Suggested Reading: 1 Samuel 12-15

This is a continuation of the story of Saul. In many ways, Saul is just like us, convinced that partial obedience is okay and that God will understand if he bends the rules just a bit, as long as he has a good reason. In fact, almost Saul’s entire story reads as a tragic “what not to do” story.

Keep working on those memory verses! If you feel confident that you’ve got them down, why not add one of your own? Read back through Colossians 1-3 and pick a verse that stands out to you.

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