You've just sat down to your coffee and your Bible. You flip open the pages and realize you don't know where to turn. Maybe this is the first time you've decided to study the Bible systematically. Or maybe you've just come out of some hard-core studying. You've closed up that book with new highlights and notes etched every which way in your Bible, just as God has etched his words every which way upon your heart. You've hugged the ladies goodbye in your study group and you are still smiling at how they challenged you, learned with you, and taught you. But maybe, like me, you find yourself a little comatose amidst the warm fuzzies. What now?
Here are some pointers about what to do next.
1. Wait for the Lord in prayer. It can be tempting to jump into the next study available without asking the Lord to direct you first. Without His guidance and presence, our efforts are meaningless. First, ask God what He has in mind for you in this specific season of your life. Personally, I have two groups of gal pals going on to two different organized Bible studies, one through James and the other through John. James is my FAVORITE book of the Bible. John is my FAVORITE gospel. Yet, when I stopped to ask God if either of these directions were for me, God was clearly saying no. Not these books. Not this season. Why? I've just recently studied both of these books with my church, and we are going to welcome another baby into our home very soon. So I am prayerfully waiting on the Lord to reveal the specifics of what Bible study is going to look like in the months ahead, and leaning into the discomfort of not having a designated plan just yet. You see, I don't have to, because I know the ultimate Planner, and I trust He has a plan for me.
2. Keep Reading. God wants to commune with you, all the time, through His Word. When we aren't in a designated Bible study, sometimes our accountability is lower, so we don't spend time with God in His Word. We may toy with thoughts such as, "If I'm not really studying, then what is the point of reading at all?" Perhaps this mentality fuels some of the cautious urgency some ladies feel to jump from one study to the next or feel like they ALWAYS need a plan. Certainly, Satan wants to attack you in these vulnerable cracks. He wants your mind off God, dwelling on anything but His Word. The truth is we need to read and study, as both uplift us in different ways. For more help understanding the importance of BOTH Bible reading and Bible study, Natalie uncovers this topic here.
So what do you read when you are in between studies? Here are a few suggestions.
- Read books chronologically surrounding the book that you just finished studying. If you just finished Daniel with our Dayton Women in the Word study, start with Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Lamentations.
- Consider the cross references in your last study. Was there anything you wished you had more time to uncover? Go read through the books from those references.
- Psalms and Proverbs are also lovely choices, as they are full of wisdom, praise, and reflection focused upon the Lord.
3. Ask some guiding questions. What books or areas of the Bible am I unfamiliar with? Am I lacking understanding about any point of God's story? What is my husband studying? My church? My kids? Would it be beneficial for me to study deeper alongside them at this time? What Bible studies are available in my area?* Do they line up with my season of life? If I can't study in person, what resources are available to me online?** Do I feel God's call to lead a Bible study or go through a study within the context of a discipleship relationship? If so, what might the women I'm leading need to focus on in the Bible right now? The answers to these questions should begin to clarify direction for your studies.
4. Talk to your people. Think about the few close people in your life who can provide Godly counsel on where to spend your time in the Word this season. For me, I check in with my husband, my mentor, and 2-3 close sister-friends. By this point in the process, I share with them where I think God is leading me and why. I invite them to pray with me and keep me accountable to what I commit to study with the Lord. And sometimes, I invite them to study alongside me!
5. Move forward in faith. The first step is indeed to wait, but don't wait too long. We have every confidence that God has given us all we need to make good decisions, because he has given us "Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3, ESV). Be brave and start your new journey into his Word! God has so much to share with you.
*Bible Study Fellowship classes are available around the world! If you're local to Dayton, there are two women's classes in our area that run during the school year. Visit their website to find out more and consider going to a welcome session!
**There are so many wonderful bible study resources available online. A few of our favorites are She Reads Truth, First 5, Flower Mound Women's Bible Study, and The Bible Project reading plan and videos.