Spiritual Growth and Encouragement for Christian Women

This Fashion Tip Will Transform Your Personal Bible Study

This Fashion Tip Will Transform Your Personal Bible Study

As a Bible study teacher, I hear many women say they don’t know how to study the Bible at home—that trying to read and understand what it says feels intimidating. I realize it can be overwhelming. We often think we need an advanced degree, or at least some training, to handle Scripture properly. However, it really can be as simple as 1-2-3. So let’s dig in and find out how you can effectively study the Bible on your own.

In the fashion business, we have a method we call the 1-2-3 Rule for getting dressed. It helps coordinate an outfit, making us look polished and put together. This same method can be used to organize any area of our lives—but most especially our personal Bible study time.

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The 1-2-3 Rule that Makes Everything Easier

The 1-2-3 Rule that Makes Everything Easier

When deciding on an outfit for the day, the rule is to begin with a basic top. This is your number one piece. It can be a plain or graphic tee, a tank or camisole, or even a plain dress. To add the number two piece, look for something to wear over the basic layer, such as a jacket, sweater, kimono, or vest. The final part, number three, is accessories. A pair of earrings is the minimum, but a necklace, stack of bracelets, and a right hand ring all add pizzazz to your ensemble.

This little routine can take you from plain to fabulous—from ordinary to classy. It can also give you confidence. When you look in the mirror, you’ll know you look your best. And it saves time because you don’t have to stand in front of your clothes closet wondering what to wear. Talk about simple!  

This same concept can be applied to any routine that seems difficult to organize. We can plan dinner around a meat, side dish, and a special sauce or garnish. Or style a bedroom with a comforter, throw, and toss pillows. Keeping to three main components, with the third being bling, color, or a burst of taste takes mundane tasks from overwhelming and blah to easy and exciting.        

Is your personal Bible study time something you know you need to do, but struggle to organize, or even to know what to do? How does one effectively study the Bible alone? Should we even try? Reading it seems like a chore at times, rather than the joy God desires for us.

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One: The Bible

One: The Bible

It’s important to get past our fear or reluctance because we need to read the Bible every day in order to live it out. Just like with our physical wardrobes, we need to wear the right spiritual garments. Colossians 3:12-15 instructs us to be clothed with things such as compassion, kindness, and forgiveness. The 1-2-3 method can help transform your study time so that you are surprised when you must close your Bible and move on to other aspects of your day.

The number one thing you need, of course, is a Bible. Make sure you use a translation that you can read and understand. The New Living Translation and the English Standard Version are two of my favorites, but I also enjoy the New King James. Whichever translation you choose, just be aware that it needs to be a translation, and not a paraphrase, such as The Message. Paraphrased Bibles are fine for additional clarification or insight, but for initial study, we need the original text.

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Two: Choose a Helpful Commentary

Two: Choose a Helpful Commentary

It is helpful to enlist the aid of a good commentary. If you don’t understand what you’re reading, this tool will help. The authors are theologians and Bible scholars—but sometimes they write like academics. For this reason, choose one written for lay people. I like the Bible Knowledge Commentaries. Their scholarship is top-notch, but they are easy to read and understand. There is one volume for the Old Testament and one for the New Testament. They are only available in regular book form, not digital. But I like the feel of paper between my fingertips.

You might prefer an online option, or a podcast series. Bible Study Tools houses great online commentaries, and the Bible Project and Bema Discipleship offer extremely helpful podcasts. If you like to study word meanings, the Complete Word Study series (Old and New Testament volumes plus a dictionary) is a solid choice. Besides these, there are books like Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels. This list is a jumping-off point. There are many available resources. If you aren’t sure about which one to choose, ask your pastor or a Bible teacher at your church. They can point you to one they like.

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Three: Effective Journaling

Three: Effective Journaling

The next item necessary for effective study is journaling. Just like accessories make an outfit what it is, this third piece of your personal Bible study is really what’s going to make the difference and give you confidence. And like accessories consist of multiples, journaling is made up of interpreting and applying Scripture, and writing your personal thoughts about it.

Your notebook doesn’t have to be anything special, but it does need to be dedicated to your Bible study. If you keep a journal for other purposes, find a new one you can reserve for Bible notes. In fact, keeping a separate small notebook for each book of the Bible you study can be helpful. That way, when you want to find your notes later, they’re easy to access. This may seem obvious, but you need a pen that fits comfortably in your hand and has good ink flow. Some pens leave ink globs, and some seem scratchy on the paper. Both are distracting.

Choose a portion of text to read for the day. If you want to study a book in the Bible, which I recommend, choose it, and then read it either one chapter at a time, or in shorter segments. If your time is limited, or conversely, if you want to dig deeper, take only a section of a chapter at a time. Most Bibles divide chapters with subheadings. Use this as your dividing tool for daily reading. As you read, you will ask yourself three questions.

What does it say?

The verses you read may be telling a narrative story, or they may be a teaching or words Jesus spoke. Jot down in your own words what the passage is about. For instance, if you’re reading in Ruth, chapter one, verses 1-5, you’ll see that Naomi’s circumstances are described. This is what it says.

What does it mean?

Most of the time, a section of Scripture means something larger than the actual events. At this point, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate the truth to you. Then write what you think the larger meaning might be. This is where your commentary will be useful if the passage seems complicated or obscure. In the case of Ruth 1:1-5, maybe you sense that a person’s choices lead to unforeseen circumstances or consequences. Maybe you already know how the story goes and now you see that God was at work, even in the middle of what seemed like an impossible situation for Naomi, to bring her back to her roots and bless her. 

What does it mean to me?

This is the point at which you search your heart and pray, asking the Lord to speak to you. What can you learn from this passage? How can you apply the truth in the larger meaning to your individual life? In the Ruth example, maybe you understand how some trial or difficulty you’re going through can be part of God’s good plan for your life. Or maybe you realize that some of your choices in the past led you away from God and now you’re in a lonely place. And God desires to lead you back to Him and into His best plan for your life. Write a paragraph about what the Lord says to you.

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Studying the Bible in this simple manner will bring you into a deeper walk with Jesus. And it will develop within you what the 1-2-3 rule for getting dressed in the morning helps you look like on the outside. It will transform your mind like Romans 12:2 says. You’ll radiate inner confidence and peace that can only come from Christ. You will be dressed in the best: righteousness and godliness. You’ll know biblical truth for yourself—and there’s nothing more beautiful.

Kathryn Graves, author of the book Fashioned by God, is a style expert, fashion coach, and Premier Designs jewelry consultant. She is also a pastor’s wife and Bible teacher. Kathryn helps women discover the source of real beauty in Jesus, freeing them to gain confidence in their personal styles. She is Mimi to three grandsons, and loves to play with color, both in fashion and interior design, and painting with pastels.

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