This tip may be a little obvious, but I’ll mention it anyway. Use a notebook. I don’t remember everything – and less all the time – so my notebook is essential to my studying. I’ve kept a study notebook at least since I was in college. Sometimes I enjoy going back to see how my insights have grown over these “few” years since my college days. (20 is a few, right?)
What should you write in your notebook? It’s your notebook. Write whatever you want. Here are a few ideas.
I make it a point to write the passage and the date. Then I go verse by verse and write my own questions, or comments.
Here’s an excerpt from my notebook: January 22, 1995 Galatians 5:1-26
v.1 This is not freedom to sin but freedom from sin and its eternal penalty
v.2 To say circumcision is necessary for salvation denies the faith that God requires…
I also keep a running list on my computer of some topics I’m chasing. One is ‘fear of the Lord’. Anytime I come to a verse dealing with that topic I make a note. Today I hit Psalm 31:19
Oh, how great is Your goodness,/ Which You have laid up for those who fear You,/ Which You have prepared for those who trust in You/ In the presence of the sons of men!
So in my notebook I added:
Fear and trust are equated. To fear God is to trust Him completely. To begin to trust our own judgment is to begin to put ourselves in God’s place. We can only trust one. The result and reward is God’s goodness- goodness so great He can’t give it to us all at once, but it must be laid up in store. His goodness is not in secret, but will be publicly given as a further testimony of His goodness.
Sometimes I just copy down verses that hit me-
The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying, “Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass,/ And as I have purposed, so it shall stand: … For the Lord of hosts has purposed,/ And who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, And who will turn it back?”
(Isaiah 14: 24, 27)
Finally, I write down questions I have for God that I need help with- These are from November 2007.
Question: How can you know that you are doing what God wants (called/willed) without reinforcement? Failure always causes me to question my course of action. However the failure may not be my fault, may be something God is doing in someone else…
Question: How can I know when I should maintain the course THRU the failure and when should I take that as a hint to abandon that direction? In other words, how do I know the difference between a closed door, and a challenge?
The notebook can be anything you want as long as it helps you stay in God’s word, because His word works! (BTW- If you know the answers to those questions… I’m listening!)