Posted in Faith, Lifestyle

You Can Study The Bible With These 5 Easy and Effective Acronyms

Only 14% of adults in the US read their Bible daily.

American Bible Society, March 2018

In a recent study performed by the American Bible Society, it was reported that only 14% of adults in the US read their Bible daily (March 2018).

As a Christian I find this number to be quite alarming. It is apparent that many of us are not reading the word of God as we should, let alone studying it.

Can I be real with you for a moment?

Reading the Bible, let alone studying it, can feel a bit intimidating, especially if you are a new believer or you don’t know how to study.

After all the bible is made of 66 books divided into two sections the Old and New Testament.

The Old Testament consists of books of history, poetry, and prophecy, while the New Testament consists of the Gospels, Letters, and 1 book of prophecy.

Where does one even start? Do you just open the bible and just start reading whatever page you land on? (If you’re a new Christian I recommend starting in the book of John.)

Then you have to decide what version/translation of the bible you want to read: NIV, KJV, ESV, NLT, HSBC…It can all be a bit much.

Once again if you’re a new Christian I would recommend an NIV, NLT, or ESV Bible.

Luckily for us, there are a whole host of Bible apps that you can use for free that will let you read different versions of the bible.

So that part shouldn’t be too hard to figure out.

But wait… isn’t it the Pastors job to teach us what’s in the bible on Sunday mornings?

So why do I need to even read or study the bible outside of Sunday morning service?

I’m glad you asked!

3 Reasons Why You Should Study Your Bible

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1. God Commands Us Too

Yes, it is the pastor’s job to share the word of God with the congregation, but it is also the job of the congregation to study the word of God on their own.

In Deuteronomy 11:18-20, ”You shall, therefore, lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates…”

Note that it doesn’t say the Pastor is to do these things it specifically says, ”you”.

So as you can see we are commanded by God to study his word so that it becomes a part of our hearts and gets ingrained in our souls. That way we can share it with all that we come into contact with.

2. The Word Shows Us How We Should Live

When I was younger our pastors often referred to the Bible as our Basic, Instruction, Before, Leaving, Earth (BIBLE).

The bible has everything that a Christian need to live a life holy and acceptable to God.

2 Timothy 2:16-17 says” 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 competent, equipped for every good work.”

The Bible contains information on how we are to handle our finances, our relationships with our children, spouses, and neighbors, what to do when others treat us poorly, etc.

Whatever you need can be found in the word of God.

3. It Will Change Your Life

In my opinion, this is the most important part of why you should study your bible. If you are struggling with sin, bitterness, unforgiveness, reading and studying the word of God will slowly begin to erode all of that stuff away.

Romans 12:2 says,” Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

The key part of this verse is the renewing of your mind. If we want to see real change in our lives we have to change the way we do things.

You can’t keep doing the same things over and over again and expect different results.

When you constantly study the word of God and are in a relationship with Christ it will slowly (and sometimes quickly) change the way you think about and see the world around you.

How can the word of God change you? Simply put the Word of God is not just a book that you read.

It’s not just words on a page that don’t apply to your life and everyday situation.

Hebrew 4:12 states,” 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.”

Another interesting finding from the study done by the American Bible Society (March 2018) showed that people who studied their bible regularly:

  • Showed more loving behavior towards others,
  • Were more generous with their time, energy or financial resources,
  • And were more willing to engage in their faith

Reading the Word of God regularly is an important part of our Christian walk with God.

Now that we know why it’s important for us to read and study our bible let’s look at a few helpful acronyms that will help you study.

5 Easy Acronyms That Will Help You Effectively Study The Bible

In general studying, the Bible falls into 3 main categories: topical (word) study, chapter study, and character study.

Topical studies focus on a specific topic or concepts such as love, marriage, parenting, tithing, etc. When doing topical studies it is important for you to study these terms in context.

During a chapter study, you pick a specific chapter in the bible to study. Some popular chapters are Psalm 23, 1 Corinthians 13, Daniel 3, and Hebrews 11. These chapters can be studied in one setting, but are best studied in small sections or multiple study sessions.

Character studies are some of my favorite studies because I get to learn more about some of my favorite Bible characters like Samson, David, Paul, Esther, Ruth and of course Jesus.

Bible Journaling is an effective way to study the bible no matter what type of study you are doing. You don’t need anything fancy to use as your bible journal.

A simple spiral or composition notebook will work just fine.

Even though all of these methods are slightly different they all have the same basic backbone: choosing a scripture, chapter, topic etc, writing down your observations and some form of personal interpretation.

All 5 of these acronyms have already been covered in great detail by other bloggers.

Instead of rehashing what’s already been done I have provided a brief overview of each acronym and provided the link to the original blog post if you would like more information.

Without further ado here are the 5 easy acronyms that you can use to study the Bible.

1.SOAP

SOAP stands for S-scripture, O-observe, A-application, P- prayer.

I believe the SOAP method is currently the most popular acronym. Whenever I am on pinterest I always see pins for this study method.

2.WORD

WORD stands for W-write, O-observation, R-relevant, D-declare.

The WORD method does not simply end with prayer, but as part of the prayer you declare the applicable parts of the scripture over your life, which I thought was pretty neat.

3.APPLE

APPLE stands for A-attributes of God, P-promises of God, P-principles for life, L- lesson learned, E- example to follow.

The APPLE method is excellent for studying the Psalms. Unlike, the other methods this one has you look for the attributes of God and his promises.

This kind of study can be useful for learning scriptures on healing, finances, God’s provision, or doing a study on the Character of God.

4.REST

REST stands for R-read, E-engage, S-savor, T-Take charge.

The REST method is best for topical bible studies. For example if you wanted to learn about forgiveness, tithing, baptism, love, etc.

This one doesn’t have an observation section, but instead directs you to meditate(S-savor) on the scripture or passage that you’ve read. Once you’ve meditated you write down what you believe God is speaking to you through the scripture (T-Take Charge).

5.SALT(Y)

SALT(Y) stands for S-supplication, A-absorb, L-learn, T- Thanksgiving, Y-you.

This study method begins with prayer (S) and ends with giving God thanks(T). I like that you can add the Y, which causes you to examine how the verse applies to your life.

If you’re crunched for time this bible study would work well, but I wouldn’t recommend it for a more in depth bible study.

Final Thoughts

Taking time out of your busy day to read your Bible is an important part of any Christians day. Spending time in the word of God is essential to our growth as Christians and can radically change our lives if we let it.

While studying the Bible can seem intimidating it doesn’t have to be. Using any one of the 5 acronyms above can greatly enhance our time spent studying the bible.

Have you tried any of the acronyms above to study the bible? Maybe I’ve missed one or you know of another method. Please feel free to share it in the comments section.

Thanks for reading.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

Posted in Faith

Finding Comfort In God’s Word

I think everyone has that moment in their life that they will never forget. That one moment, that one incident that will forever alter their reality and changes that person for better or worse.

If you haven’t had that moment in life trust me you will.

For me, that moment took place four years ago on a dark cold January night, much like tonight. As I think about it our bedroom was set up in almost the exact configuration.

I remember laying in my bed next to my husband. Anxiously awaiting the news he had to tell me. News that would forever shatter the happy world I once knew.

I had an affair and I have daughter she will be one next week…words no wife wants to hear. A situation no wife wants to bear.

At that moment, four years ago, my life changed. It was the worst day of my life and without a doubt the hardest year of my life.

And even though I found myself broken emotionally and mentally. God was there to comfort me spiritually.

Even in the midst of my pain and my anguish God was there through it all. His word was a constant light shining into the darkness.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105

When I felt like the wounds would never heal He reminded me that He would heal my heart.

He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.

Psalm 147:3

When low self esteem tried to take me to the pits of depression He said…

…You are fearfully and wonderfully made;your works are wonderful…

Psalm 139:14

I cried many tears and had many sleepless nights, but…

…weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:5

And years later the weeping has subsided and has been replaced with His joy.

No, things aren’t how I want them to be, but they’re not as bad as they could be either.

When I found myself struggling with trusting those that I had once held so close He reminded me of where my trust should lie.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

When we are in consumed by the darkness in our lives, we often overlook the promises of God.

You know, human nature is funny that way, when we need him the most we often pull away from God. But it is in those times that we should draw closer not farther.

It is in His word where you will find hope for your tomorrow. It is in His word that you will remember that trouble won’t last always( 1 Peter 5:10). It is in His word that you remember that He is near the broken-hearted(Psalm 34:18).

You see no matter what you are going through God is there to comfort you. Waiting for you with outstretched arms.

For those who believe, the word of God provides us with light and hope in the midst of the storm.

Maybe you have a favorite verse that brings you comfort and hope. Please share it in the comments section.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

Posted in Faith

Are You A Man/Woman After God’s Heart?

Israel had many kings, but no King was a famous as it’s second King, David. Before he was a king, David was a shepherd boy tending his father’s sheep. He was the youngest of his father’s sons.

In 1 Samuel 16, we find the story of Samuel’s journey to anoint the next King of Israel. He passes over Jesse’s first two sons believing that God would choose them as king. But it is here that God reminds him that God does not look at the outward appearance, but at the heart of a man (1 Sam 16:7).

I can imagine that he was probably picked on quite a bit with 7 older brothers in the house. But it was this little brother that was anointed by the great prophet Samuel to become the next King of Israel.

In Acts 13:22, “After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do. (NIV)”

David -A Man After God’s Heart

Many of you may already know the story of David, if you don’t I encourage you to read it. David was a great hero and ruler of Israel. He was also an adulterer, murderer, and he failed to discipline his children.

Yet, he was still considered a man after God’s heart. Why? This has always been a question the puzzled me. After all, how could someone who had committed such terrible sins still be considered a man after God’s heart?

In my mind I couldn’t reconcile the sins that David committed with the heart of God. If you take after someone your just like them, you copy them, you walk like them, you talk like them. Isn’t that what it means to take after someone?

It wasn’t until a yesterday while I was listening to a preacher talk about David that I understood what this scripture was saying.

It wasn’t that David’s heart was like God’s, but that David was chasing after the heart of God. In spite of Davids shortcomings David always wanted to please God.

Is that our main goal as Christians to please God or to please men?

Even when David sinned and was confronted by the prophet he confessed and repented (2 Sam 12:1-14). He didn’t harden his heart, like some of us would have done.

When David challenged Goliath it wasn’t for fame, glory, or the hand of Saul’s daughter. He was indignant that such a man would challenge God’s people and make a mockery of His God (1 Sam:17).

When is the last time you’ve been indignant when the world makes a mockery of the things of God? Did you stand up for it or just keep silent?

When the ark of the covenant was returned to Israel King David danced with all of his might before the Lord. He didn’t care what anyone thought of him because he was dancing for God (2 Sam 6).

When God blesses us, do we give him the glory and tell others about what he’s done for us?

Unlike his predecessor Saul, David was obedient to God. The last part of Acts 13:22 says,” … he will do everything I want him to.”

Are we obedient to the holy spirit when he tells us to buy the person in front of us groceries or to give more in the offering this week?

How Do We Become Men/Women After God’s Own Heart

Being a man or woman after God’s own heart does not mean that we are perfect and it does not mean that we will be without sin. It does mean that:

  1. We need to have a relationship with God.
  2. We need to focus on pleasing God.
  3. We should be quick to repent and turn from our wicked ways.
  4. We need to stand up for the things of God, even if it means we have to stand alone.
  5. We need to to be obedient and committed to the teachings of Christ.

All of these things can be accomplished by reading Gods word and developing a personal relationship with Christ our Redeemer. David had a personal relationship with God. He trusted God in spite of the difficulties and the challenges he faced before and after he became King.

Because of Jesus, we are able to develop a relationship with God, without the sacrifice of animals, like David did. So, let us strive to be men and woman after God’s heart.

Remember that God looks at the heart of a person. Ask yourself today am I a man/woman after God’s heart?

If you have any other tips or insights please feel free to share them in the comments section.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

Posted in Faith

5 Ways to Tell You’re A Christian

belief bible book business
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What is a Christian? How do you know that are you are one? Maybe you have doubts about whether or not you’re still in the faith? Or Maybe you’re just curious.

For whatever reason you find yourself scrolling through this post today I pray that you will be blessed by it.

Without further ado, I present to you 5 ways to tell you’re a Christian.

1. Christians have Confessed & Believe That Jesus Is Lord

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Photo by Edwin Andrade on Unsplash

Simply put to be a Christian you must first be a disciple of Jesus Christ. A disciple is a follower or student of a specific person or philosophy. So how does one become a disciple of Christ?

Romans 10:9-10 puts it plainly, ”If you declare with your mouth, “ Jesus is Lord.” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

This is the first step to becoming a believer in Christ. However, it is important to remember that this is a two-step process. People can confess with their mouths and not believe in their hearts what they are confessing. Which caused them to become false converts.

This may sound harsh, but I know too many people that believe they are Christians because they go to church every Sunday and attend bible study every night. If you have not confessed and believed that Jesus is Lord and believed that God raised him from the dead you are not a Christian.

It doesn’t matter if your father was a pastor or how much money you give to charity. You can not alumni your way or earn your way into heaven.

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6, NIV).

When you truly confess Jesus as your Lord and Savior there is an inward and an outward change. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here(NIV).”

2. Christians Should Be Free From Habitual Sin

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Photo by Diana Simumpande on Unsplash

In the beginning, it can be hard for a new believer to tell if they are actually saved. They may still curse, drink, smoke drugs, etc. But as they begin to mature and grow in their faith in Christ all of those things should begin to fall away.

Sometimes the changes are instant and sometimes the changes are more gradual. Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean you are perfect and that you will never sin. On the contrary, it means that you will constantly be at war with yourself or your “flesh” as the bible puts it and the holy spirit that now dwells within you.

1 John 3:6-9 that, ”No one who lives in him (Jesus Christ) keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him (NIV). “ New Christians can take solace in the fact that as they grow in their relationship with Christ that they will no longer engage in habitual/wilful sin.

Will you still sin? Yes. But as you mature in Christ you should sin less.

3. Christians Love Others

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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

I think the most common thing I hear people say about God is that He is Love. However, it is just one of the many aspects of God’s character. An aspect that we as Christians are supposed to share with the world.

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (1 John 4:20-21, NIV)

We are not only commanded to love our brothers and sister in Christ, but also those around us. We are even to love those that we consider our enemies and to bless those who curse us (Luke 6:27-36, Matt 5: 43-48).

This is in stark contrast to what the world teaches us. Which is to hate those who hate you and to get revenge on those who do us wrong. If we live this way towards our fellow man then it is impossible for us to claim to love a God that we haven’t seen.

I am by no means saying that it’s easy to love and get along with everyone. But we are to do our best to be like Christ. Which means we are to love others as Jesus loved us and he loved us (John 15:12-13, NIV) to the point of death.

4. Christians Do Good Works

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Being a Christian doesn’t just stop with confessing and believing in Jesus. It requires us to change and grow by putting off our old sinful nature and loving other people.

From this abundance of love, we should produce good works. As James put it, “Faith without works is dead (2:14).” As Christians, we should be willing to help those in need. Not because we want to be seen by other people(Matt 5:16), but the compassion of Christ compels us too.

There are many people that believe that by doing good works they can earn their way into heaven. However, you can not donate your way or feed enough homeless people to get to heaven. It is only by believing in his son Jesus Christ that you can be saved.

Maybe you don’t know what you should be doing, but if you seek Christ he will show you. For we have been created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Eph 2:10).

Jesus is no longer here on earth with us to love on the lost and the downtrodden. We, his followers, are now responsible for being his hands and feet. We have been called to show the compassion Christ to the world around us.

5. Christians Do Not Deny Christ

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Photo by Nilton Oliveira on Unsplash

This last one seems like a no-brainer. I mean how can you call yourself a Christian and deny Christ? That means that your not a Christian.

However, have you ever shared something that happened to you or your family that you know could have only happened because God intervened and didn’t even mention him?

Or have your kids ever wanted to invite their friends from school to a church event, but you politely suggested that they not for whatever bogus reason you gave. When really you were afraid they would be mocked or feel rejected because the other kids might say no?

I know I have been a victim of that one. I had to get on my knees and repent! I had to check myself to make sure I was still in the faith.

Or have you ever failed to stand up for what you believe in because you were the only Christian in the crowd?

See it’s in these little ways that we deny Christ in our lives that people don’t think about. That if we don’t catch them can eventually turn into full-blown denials of Christ.

The bible says, ”Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels (Luke 9:26, NIV).”

What a shame it would be to get to the gates only to be turned away because we were ashamed of our Savior

Final Thoughts

I know many of you expected to read things like if you pray, read your bible, and go to church you’re a Christian. While it is true that these are things that Christians should be doing to help them grow in their faith and develop a relationship with Christ.

There are many people that do all of these things out of habit or ritual and have never given their lives to Christ.

I hope this list has helped you in your walk with Christ. For those of you who are Christians, I hope this list helped affirm some things for you or even caused you to stop and examine yourself.

If you are someone that claims to be a Christian because you attend church services regularly, you sing in the choir, or because your parents were preachers I encourage you to go back to the first point in this post.

If you have found yourself in a backslidden state I encourage you to reaffirm your faith in Christ and get back in the race.

If are reading this post and are not a Christian I pray that this post has touched your heart in such a way that it would draw you closer to Christ and that you would take that step to become his disciple.

Please leave a comment if you feel that I have left something out or you would like to share something that you learned or agreed with from this post.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro