Manuals and Time
“Reading maketh a full man; writing maketh an accurate man; and, thinking maketh a cautious man.” Such was the adaptation of a well known maxim made by a Christian to his son. Although impressed the youth felt that in its three parts it carried a suggestion of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Later, under the mellowing influence of experience, these rules became to him the methods of knowledge, proficiency, and sagacity.
In the study of the Scriptures these rules are invaluable. We learn to read prayerfully, to write exactly, and to think deeply. Actually we read first, then think, and finally we preserve our thoughts in writing.
For Bible study two books are necessary, the Bible and a note book, and for the sake of convenience two note-books may be suggested, one for temporary jottings, and, maybe, a loose-leaf one for more permanent work. As we read the Word of God we find precious things. Perchance in one chapter we read the name and the activity of a person, or we discover a certain theme, such as “prayer,” or “faith,” or, it may be, we find revealed a certain attitude to man on the part of God. These things which attract our attention we note in our scribbler. Later, in reading elsewhere, we may find the same person named, but engaged in another activity. This we note comparing it with our former entry. At a still later date, we encounter the same person again. Immediately we turn to our scribbler and compare what we have discovered with our former findings. To illustrate; let us assume that we are reading through the epistle to the Colossians. First, we raise our hearts in brief prayer; then, we open our Bibles and notebooks. We do not read many verses until we see the name, “Epaphras,” and we note it in our book under Colossians Chapter One. At the same time we notice what Paul calls him, “a fellowservant,” and “a faithful minister.” We also add that Paul declares that the Colossians had learned the grace of God through this brother. Sometime later, we are studying chapter four, and once more we see the name, “Epaphras.” This time he is engaged in prayer because of his anxiety over the saints at Colosse. This we enter in our book. It may be a considerable time before we reach the epistle to Philemon, but on doing so, once again we find this same brother, “Epaphras.” In our scribbler we write that on this occasion he is in prison. With all this material about one man, we decide to condense and transfer it to our permanent records. We therefore put down the statements:
§ Epaphras: Col. 1:7: A preacher of the grace of God.
§ Col. 4:12: A shepherd anxious for the sheep.
§ Phil. 23: A prisoner of the Lord.
§ A little more effort will clarify each thought, thus;
§ Epaphras: An Evangelist of the gospel of Christ. (Col. 1:7).
§ A Pastor of the Church of Christ. (Col. 4:12).
§ A Sufferer for the testimony of Christ. (Phil. 23). Here in this brother, we have an example to follow, and plenty of material for further meditation.
An old cannon stands in Major’s Hill Park, Ottawa, Canada. For more than a hundred years this veteran has been booming out the time signal exactly on the second of noon. Hundreds of persons check daily their watches by its thunderous roar, for correct time is priceless.
In Bible study time is a mighty factor. It has been well said, “Use your time well, and you will have ample time to use.”
The Making Of Time:
“I am waiting for the time when I shall be able to study my Bible more intensively,” is the vain hope expressed by many. Why should we wait for time; time that never waits for us? We must make time. An inventory of each 24 hours will reveal shocking wastes of valuable time. The majority work 8 hours a day, and rest 8 hours in every 24, this leaves another 8 hours for the more personal affairs of life. In one week we are particularly responsible for 56 hours. How are we using these hours? Is it not possible to arrange these 56 hours to give at least 31/2 hours a week to the study of God’s Word? 30 minutes a day is surely the minimum. By rising earlier, by taking less time for dressing, by curtailing the unsavoury gossip, by the judicious control of the Daily Press, by the elimination of unprofitable radio and television programs, by the forsaking of aimless pursuits, and by the re-arrangement of domestic duties, minutes can be saved, and minutes mean hours. Let us make time for Bible study.
The Amount Of Time:
It would be improper to state how much time each should give in the day to this study. Some need more, because all minds do not acquire knowledge as quickly as do others. Each must determine how much, not how little, time he can use profitably. Then again, some work longer hours than do others, they spend more time travelling to and from their employment. Others have families of small children, and must assume time-consuming responsibilities. Each Christian must decide in God’s presence the amount of time to use every day in the examination of the Scriptures.
The Appropriate Time:
Circumstance must determine the best period of the day which makes Bible study pleasant and fruitful. There are those who do not have to appear in their office too early in the morning; for them, Bible study might well be the first item of the day. Others who start work early in the morning find the evening more appropriate, and there are others who with a longer lunch-time can select a quiet period following their noon meal. The most suitable period of the day, like the amount of time to be used, must be decided in the presence of the Lord.
The Time Table:
In many cases, the lives of God’s people would be greatly improved in quality and largely expanded in usefulness if they adopted a time table, but if the entire day cannot be methodically planned a study schedule should be prepared. This need not be elaborate, but it should be fixed, and strictly adhered to. If it be possible to spend only 30 minutes a day, the time can be divided; for example, thus: 18 minutes for the careful reading of the passage; 4 minutes to observe the different paragraphs or sections, with their respective themes; 3 minutes for the entering of these in the day-book; and the 5 minutes that remain can be used to profit by reviewing this work, and the memorizing of the various themes found in each part of the reading. With these headings firmly established in the mind, meditation, during the remainder of the busy day, becomes a blessed possibility and a source of spiritual pleasure.