This week I’d like you to experience studying deeper into the scriptures by reading a single chapter, or section of a chapter, every day for that week. If you are an experienced student of the gospel, think of how many times you may have read a work of scripture, and how remarkable it is that every time you’ve read it, you have seen things you didn’t see before. That’s partly because of life experiences that take place since the previous reading (which could have been some time ago). It’s also partly because your mind is passing over the familiar to find the unfamiliar, like your monotonous drive to work when you ignore all the typical things you encounter each day. Only the novel and unfamiliar stands out like the bumper sticker that says, “if I honk, you’ve been home taught.” 🙂
Each day as you read the chapter, think deeply about the words used in each verse. Write down the questions you have in your basic notes so they are easy to reference. By doing this, you will maintain the familiarity you had with the chapter the day(s) before and start thinking about new things. Right in front of your eyes, things will pop out that will seem to have not been there the day before. You may just be amazed at what you learn, and what you set up for yourself to study deeper. Then as you have time to go back and try to answer those questions, do so, seeking answers from the scriptures and other resources available to you.
Do you have a favorite chapter in the scriptures? Do you have a chapter or section of a chapter you wish you understood better? If you can’t think of one, I’ll suggest a few here which I love with some deep and wonderful insights.
2 Nephi 31-32: These two chapters elaborate on the doctrine of Christ. In the church we typically think of this doctrine as having faith, repenting, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and then we tack on enduring to the end as if we’re done at that point. We’re not, and a careful reading here will illuminate much more.
Alma 32: The great analogy of faith being likened to a seed which grows into a mature tree that produces fruit.
3 Nephi 11: Christ’s first visit to the Nephites after his resurrection where he appears to and ministers to thousands.
Matthew 5 / 3 Nephi 12: The Sermon on the Mount and at the Temple.
Moroni 7: Moroni’s teachings on judging, faith, hope, charity, miracles, and ministering of angels is a powerful sermon.
D&C 84:33-48; 121:34-46; JST Gen. 14:25-40: These sections cover the oath and covenant of the priesthood, and obtaining priesthood power.
As you start on your chapter, ask Heavenly Father in prayer to open your mind to the scriptures. Ask that he will let the Holy Ghost teach you deeper meanings of these verses. Then, expect that he will. Conclude by thanking him for what he showed you today and ask that he take you deeper tomorrow.
Try to read every word and not skip over any words. Avoid going off in search of “rabbit holes” until you have finished reading the chapter through and noting any new questions you develop each day. As the week goes on, reading the chapter might become faster for you because of familiarity, or you may hit a point where you slow down because you are typing up so many questions.
What I have learned over the past couple years is just how literal the scriptures are. Things I thought were figurative have taken on entirely new meanings when I saw them as literal. As you read, try to think of things in every possible way.
Did a word stand out to you? Why? Write it down with an appropriate question.
Ask questions like “why did he phrase it that way?” “What question drew out this answer?”
Don’t understand what a word means? Is there possibly another twist to that word? Write a comment to look up the meaning of that word.
Day 2: Read your chapter at LDS.org with all the footnotes and read the verse footnotes and click into cross-referenced scriptures to read them. Record additional insights and questions in your basic verse notes.
Day 3: Read the chapter while listening to it on LDS.org or in the Gospel Library app. Make notes based on the new things you pick up. Listening to someone else read you the chapter gives you additional sensory input and their inflection may bring you different insight.
Day 4: Read and today look for what words stand out to you as unique. Look them up in the Webster’s 1828 dictionary and/or Strong’s Concordance. Search the scriptures for that word and create collection notes on topics of interest. Record all your unique insights.
Days 5 & 6: Return to your verse basic notes and look at the questions you asked. Create collection notes from your questions or on topics and themes you want to explore more. Seek additional revelation through prayer about questions you asked. Search the scriptures for answers as well. In your collection notes, add verses your find and write in the master note area the insights gained from sets of related scripture you found.
Day 7: Look at the insight you’ve gained this week (express gratitude) and make a flow chart or write a short paper on the topic. Read the chapter today with the intent to create a logical flow of the key points as if you were going to teach a lesson on this topic in church or Family Home Evening. Is there a way to structure it to see the principles that lead to blessings? Is there a “type” or “shadow” presented where part of the story can be seen in layers of meaning in another time or place? You may be reading a micro-level story that has a macro-level meaning or vice-versa like Nephi’s journey to the promised land being representative of our journey (life) to the promised land (heaven).
In the comments below, please share what chapter you read and an insight or two you gained from reading that chapter for several days. Please share anything unique you did while studying so that others can consider trying that technique out.
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