Writing a Bible Study

by Shirley Crowder

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

I love studying the Bible as well as helping others study the Bible. I hope the following will not only help those who want to write Bible studies, but that it will give a grid through which those who desire to delve into personal Bible studies can study the Bible.

I usually have an idea of what type Bible study I want to write/do: topical or book/passage. Sometimes as I study passages, it becomes clear that the other type study is what would best cover the things I want to include. Both types of studies are valuable in helping Christ-followers grow in our knowledge and understanding of the Bible and how to apply its commands and principles in our daily lives.

There are three basic steps:

  1. Study the Scripture passage.
  2.  Make notes as you study.
  3.  Organize your notes and write the Bible study.

I recently had the opportunity while traveling home from a conference to ask my dear brother in Christ, Dr. Howard Eyrich, “What makes a good Bible study?” I love his three points because they provided the structure for the things I consider as I develop a Bible study.

The most important thing to do when you want to start writing a Bible study is to pray! Ask the Lord to lead you as you study and determine the shape of your Bible study.

As you are reading, studying, contemplating, and meditating on the Scripture passage, make notes of important truths, themes, and words. I usually make bullet point notes of things that I can ask questions about.

Dr. Eyrich’s three points:

  1. Don’t start with a premise and determination to prove your premise.
  2. Inductively study the passage.
  3. Theologically evaluate the deductive conclusions.

Don’t start with a premise and then set out with determination to prove your premise.

I have been in and read so many Bible studies where it is obvious that the leader/writer began with a premise and set out with determination to prove that premise. They have everything in the Bible study “prove” their premise—often by using poor Bible study techniques. These studies often do not teach the verse or passage in the context of the chapter, book, and testament in which it appears.

Inductively study the passage.

Inductively studying the passage means the Bible is your source or textbook so that every session focuses on reading and understanding the Word of God. Asking questions leads you and others to discover the answers from the Bible.

I suggest staying away from “What do you think this means?” or “What does this mean to you?” questions. Always point people to study the passage for what it says in its context and the biblical principles you can extrapolate. I suggest reading Scripture with this question in mind, “What does this passage say about WHO God is?” Then ponder “Based on what this passage says about WHO God is, what am I required to do in response?”

Inductively studying the passage leads you to study carefully as you: Observe, Interpret, and Apply the Word to your life.

  • Observation is asking, “What does the passage say?”
  • Interpretation is asking, “What does the passage mean?”
  • Application is asking, “Based on what the passage says and means, how do I apply it to my life?

Theologically evaluate the deductive conclusions.

Once you have the results of your inductive study, you need to look at each result and evaluate it theologically or biblically through the lens of Scripture, making sure your results are biblically/theologically accurate.

Dr. Eyrich encourages us to not be satisfied with just the application—how to apply the Scripture or biblical principle in my life. He encourages us to consider the implication—if I apply these principles in my life, what things would follow or what affect would that have on me and my life.

Check other Scripture passages that pertain to your topic and make note of the cross-references you can use throughout your Bible study.

Decide how many chapters the Bible study will contain. How many days or weeks will the study last? At this point, you decide whether to have one lesson for the week or divide each lesson into daily portions to be studied.

For topical studies, your topic will help you determine what to cover each week. For instance, if you do a study on “The Fruit of the Spirit” you may decide to have eleven chapters:

Chapter 1: Overview/Introduction to “The Fruit of the Spirit”
Chapters 2 – 10: Each chapter covers one of the Fruit of the Spirit.
Chapter 11: Wrap-up

Read through the book or passage numerous times to find the important topics for each chapter. If you choose Psalm 1 for your Bible study, you could compare or contrast the way of the righteous man and the way of the unrighteous man.

Start writing and organizing.

As you write, you will also need to take the role of teacher/leader, making certain you supply background, definitions of words and phrases, and the context of the passage.

Many folks will have thirty questions for the week—six questions per day. However, instead of staying to a formulaic approach, I prefer to have a mix of quick short-answer questions and some that take more research, study, and contemplation to answer, so my Bible studies have varying numbers of questions per day/week.

Review, Rewrite, Refine

In this step you want to make sure the questions make sense and actually ask what you thought you were asking.

This is a good time to ask a friend or two to work through the study and help you identify anything that needs clarifying or that needs to be rewritten.

Writing Prompt: For a topical Bible study on “Trusting God,” what Scripture passages would you use and what questions would you ask?

Click to Tweet: I suggest reading Scripture with this question in mind, “What does this passage say about WHO God is?” Then ponder, “Based on what this passage says about WHO God is, what am I required to do in response?” https://ctt.ec/yb94L+ #WritingBibleStudies

Resources for Anyone Who’d Like to Write Devotional Books

By Jennifer Hallmark

The month of November has been all things devotional at the Inspired Prompt and I’ve enjoyed reading each post. But I have a confession to make.

I can’t write devotionals.

Correction. I haven’t been able to write any that have sold. Why? One theory I have is that God has a plan and purpose for each of us and that’s not in my plan. I don’t have a lot of interest in writing them, though I LOVE reading them and always have one by my bedside. Maybe my purpose is to support devotional writers. Hmm. 😊

Anyway, there are wonderful resources out there to help you in your quest to be a devotional writer. I’ll share them with you and maybe one day you’ll publish your own book and I’ll have it on my nightstand.

Blog Posts to Read

How to Write a Devotional: The Definitive Guide (Jerry Jenkins)

Writing Corner: Tips and Tools for Aspiring Authors and Artists (Max Lucado)

Advice to a New Writer of Devotionals ( Amy Boucher Pye)

 

Places You Can Submit Your Devotionals (some pay, some don’t)

Writing for Lifeway

Christian Devotions

The Upper Room

The Life

Fellowship of Christian Athletes

Click to tweet: Resources for the aspiring devotional writer. #devotional #faith

In lieu of a Writing Prompt, share any resources (in the comments below) that you know of to help the aspiring devotional writer. Thanks!

Christian Devotions: The Birthing of a Ministry

By Cindy K. Sproles
Acquisitions Editor
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Christian Devotions Ministries was born in August of 2008. We became a 501c3 shortly after our inception. God called two friends together to make this ministry happen and it came about like this:

Eddie Jones and I met at Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference and it was there we both sat across the table from editors and publishers handing out the same responses. No experience. Not only us, but many others new to the industry simply didn’t have the experience necessary to rise to publication at that time. We were good with that, understanding that new writers have to learn to write before they can become published so our prayer became, “Lord will you allow us to provide the opportunity for new writers to gain their first publication credit? Will you help us build a reputation of goodness, kindness, and willingness to teach others? Will you groom our writing so that we might be able to share your word to the world? And finally, will you grant us the opportunity to get to know publishers, agents, and editors so that we might gain the platform necessary to be able to offer this to others?”

I’m not sure why we were surprised, but God did answer yes to all our requests and www.ChristianDevotions.us was born. Currently, we publish devotions daily year round. Our goal is to help new writers gain that first publication credit and have it mean something in the industry. We work to mentor writers as they send us submissions, grooming them to write a touching and impactful devotion that can be used on the website and distributed worldwide.

Christian Devotions now is home to over 800 authors, many who continue to submit to the site as well as a continual flow of new, unpublished authors on a daily basis. We are blessed God saw the potential in us and this work to bless us. The daily devotional ministry reaches some 171 countries and emails over 20K emails weekly to our subscriber list. Folks and receive the devotions free of charge by going to the site and signing up in the email box. Christian Devotions holds the Asheville Christian Writers Conference each February at the Cove, the Billy Graham Training Center, in Asheville, NC with an amazing faculty each year. We welcome all writers to the conference and offer tracks for both new and seasoned writers. www.ashevillechristianwritersconference.com

Christian Devotions also has www.DevoKids.com – our site for homeschooling families as well as children from 5-10 years old.  Then for adults who are looking for a place of encouragement, we offer InspireAFire.com.

Next to ChristianDevotions.us comes our blog talk radio show www.christiandevotionsspeakup.com hosted by Scott McCausey. Visit the Speak Up site and listen to hundreds of amazing interviews from theologians, sports figures, Christian music artists, and even actors. Scott talks with them all about the impact God has had in their lives.All that to say, Christian Devotions Ministries is well rounded. We have something for everyone.

God has blessed us by growing the ministry of Christian Devotions greater than we ever imagined, but then our God is greater than we can imagine anyway. For those who want to submit to ChristianDevotions.us, visit our site at www.christiandevotions.us, click on the tab that says Write for Us, and download our guidelines and the sample devotions that teach you how we write devotions for the website. You may submit to christiandevotionsministries@gmail.com. Our Managing Editor is Martin Wiles.

Visit us at any of our sites. Invite us to your conference. Spread the word about the daily devotions and help us make a greater impact on a hurting world.


Cindy K. Sproles  is an author and speaker. She is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries and the cowriter of the popular He Said, She Said Devotions written with her cofounder, Eddie Jones. She is a novelist and best-selling author. Cindy’s devotions and articles are published in Christian newspapers across the eastern seaboard, including having been used to represent legislature for protection of the elderly. She is a speaker to women’s conferences addressing not only the heart of women, but also their biblical responsibilities to their families.

As a teacher and speaker for Christian Writers Conferences, Cindy teaches writing skills and how to write placing God in the forefront.  She is a contributing author to CBN.com and is the Executive Editor for www.christiandevotions.us and the Managing Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas’ imprints: SonRise Devotionals and Straight Street Books. She is a certified life coach and mentor, an eldercare specialist and a special needs advocate. Her book, New Sheets – Thirty Days to Refine You Into the Woman You Can Be is being used to help raise funds for Hope House, an abortion crisis center and her novel, Mercy’s Rain, is giving a voice to children who suffer sexual child abuse. Cindy is also the coauthor of He Said, She Said – A  Devotional Guide to Cultivating a Life of  Passion.

She is the mother of four adult sons and  lives in the mountains of East Tennessee with her husband. Cindy can be contacted at www.cindysproles.com or by emailing cindyksproles@gmail.com.

Running With the Horses

By Jennifer Hallmark

Jeremiah.

The Weeping prophet.

A man commanded by God not to marry or have children. Scorned by many because of his message of doom he continually cried out to the people of Israel.

A man on a mission.

Why do I consider Jeremiah my favorite book in the Bible? His genuineness and honesty. I see a man who was real and obeyed God. Jeremiah showed compassion toward his homeland, Israel, and yet wasn’t afraid to address the rulers, priests, and false prophets who had led the people into idolatry. He was called as a youth and admitted trying to avoid the call but couldn’t.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations. Then said I: ‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.'” Jeremiah 1: 5 NKJV

“Then I said, ‘I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.’
But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not.'” Jeremiah 20:9 NKJV

As a writer, Jeremiah’s words are beautiful, full of melancholy, yet memorable. He uses repetition and symbolism throughout the book, along with poetry. He thinks and feels deeply.

My love of this book increased after reading Eugene H. Peterson’s book, Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at its Best. This study parallels the book of Jeremiah to our lives today. Here’s a little more about it…

In Jeremiah 12:5, God says to the prophet, “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” 

We all long to live life at its best–to take freedom and spontaneity with purpose and meaning. Why then do we often find our lives so humdrum, so unadventuresome, so routine? Or else so frantic, so full of activity, but still devoid of fulfillment? How do we learn to risk, to trust, to pursue wholeness and excellence–to run with the horses in the jungle of life?

In a series of profound reflections on the life of Jeremiah the prophet, Eugene Peterson explores the heart of what it means to be fully and genuinely human. His writing is full of humor and self-reflection, insight and wisdom, helping to set a course for others in the quest for life at its best.

As a rule, I’m cautious and reserved but I read this book at a time when I was newer to writing and it helped me move forward when I wasn’t sure I could.

This year, I’ve been reading through the Old Testament and in August I came to Jeremiah. I’m reminded again why I love this beautifully written, hauntingly sad reflection penned in a day and time when false peace covered the land.

A time much like today.

Who among us will cry out against injustice today?

Who is willing to run with the horses?

Click to tweet: Why do I consider Jeremiah my favorite book in the Bible? #BibleStudy #amwriting

Writing prompt: Leila stopped. Once again the neighbor across the street had pulled up her sign proclaiming God is Love. What was his problem? This was her yard. She…

Freedom, Focus and Joy in Philippians

By Lisa Worthey Smith

Which book of the Bible is my favorite? The one I am studying at the time! No matter how many times I have read or studied any book or section of His Word, God always presents a new and fresh application for my life at that moment. There is one book that I tend to re-read pretty often.

Freedom

Philippians is the first book of the Bible that I studied in-depth, so it has an extra special place in my heart. With threads of joy woven throughout, it is the favorite of many and a great place to spend some time.

God spoke to me in the very first chapter (verse 6) about His faithfulness – “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” At the time I was struggling with not being good enough, perhaps even failing in my responsibilities and He gave me this personal note of freedom right there in the first verses!

Then, in the third chapter all the success and failures of the past and present, simply vanished when I looked at Paul’s comment about his own resume’. He was so proud of his righteous, law-abiding resume’ until he met Christ. Then he threw out his “righteousness” in exchange for righteousness from God through faith! While I knew that in theory, it became very real to me when Paul explained his experience. That’s part of the beauty of Philippians. Paul used his life as a relatable example.

I realized that my life was more than what I cooked for dinner, my job description, my parenting efforts, how my hair looked, what my house was like, my clothes, or any other goal of perfection I may have sought before. Any reward for those goals would be short-lived and of little lasting value. My mission became to walk in a manner worthy of what Christ did for me, to share that good news with all those around me, no matter where I was.

Focus

Paul finished that passage with an encouragement to press on. If his life was a race toward a goal, the finish line was heaven, and he was diligently reaching out toward that finish line. Not to end his life quickly, but to live it in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel 1:27” No distractions, no detours, no slacking off, but moving forward toward heaven, remembering that Christ paid my sin debt so that I could gain entrance.

Like Paul, during the study of Philippians, I determined that my life focus would be to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel that Christ paid for my entrance into heaven. Every aspect of my life simplified when I took on this “eternal perspective.”

Then, there are those days…you know the ones I mean…the days when worry, and dread, and even fear, creep into my heart and mind and I get bogged down, and even wallow (think pig in muddy pit) in discouragement, robbed of all joy.

Paul knew about those days too. In the fourth chapter he reminds us to

1 – Give it to Him  – “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

2 – He will guard your heart and mind“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

3 – Remember His goodness “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

Paul’s remedy for the battle in our mind? Get out of the muddy pit, give it to God, and get focused.

Joy

Peace with God (and of God) allowed Paul to retain his joy – not just peace, but joy – in all circumstances, even while he was in prison and likely to die soon. His freedom and focus allowed him to keep his eternal perspective so that he could look death in the face and proclaim…“But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.” Philippians 2:17

So, you and I can rejoice and press on today and all our remaining days, to encourage others to find freedom, and focus, and joy, in their race to the finish line!

“Brethren… one thing I do:

forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

 Philippians 3:14

Click to tweet: Philippians has threads of joy woven throughout. #Bible #Faith

Writing prompt – The words that changed my heart, and direction of my life….


Lisa Worthey Smith

Lisa is a long-time Bible study leader and author of Oscar the Extraordinary Hummingbird (voted in the 50 Indie Books Worth Reading for 2016), a non-fiction account of a severely injured hummingbird she rehabilitated, and her own time of suffering. It includes a Study Guide with lessons on suffering in the life of a Christian.

Her newest work, The Wisdom Tree, scheduled to be released fall 2017, is the parable of an olive tree planted in the Garden of Gethsemane for a special purpose during the time of Jesus. He is fed nutrients (Scripture) by his wise worm-friend, Herm, and tenderly cared for by the Master of the garden. There are questions about our relationship with God and basic Christianity at the end of each chapter with Scripture answers in a Study Guide at the end – suitable for book clubs, homeschool, small group study, or personal growth.

Lisa, her husband, and their 21 pounds of cuteness wrapped in a Schnauzer suit, live in north Alabama.