Hi friend! Welcome to episode 23 of Tending Your Soul Podcast! I’m Mariel and we have been walking through tips for cultivating time with Jesus together in the podcast starting with episode 19. I’m so glad you’re here as we prepare our heart to spend time in the Word, like a gardener prepares the soil.
We have looked at the purpose, the place, the props and the posture of cultivating a rhythm of intimacy with Jesus through His Word. Today we are looking at our plan. How do we plan to get into God’s Word?
I get excited to start digging in the soil of my backyard garden when I buy new gardening tools or a new catalogue of my favorite gardening items.
I can even get a bit excited about exercise when I get a new pair of sneakers!
When we have a new, fresh plan and a definitive direction, it makes getting into a task more exciting, doesn’t it?
That can happen with Bible study plans too. When we know the night before what we will dig into tomorrow and we have our bible plan all set, then we can get excited about opening our Bible.
The trouble comes in when we have no idea what we will read in our Bible, or we feel lost, like we don’t even know where to start. Flipping through a big bible in the morning with a foggy mind and a long to do list for the day can lead to neglecting our time with the Lord which leads us to instability and an untethered feeling all day. Then as we feel farther from the Lord, we are vulnerable to the messages of the world and the enemy and we begin to walk in defeat rather than armed with truth and grace.
So let’s look at plans today and see if the Holy Spirit can give us clarity on which path works for us and how to prepare for meeting with God in that plan.
When we consider Bible plans there are a couple approaches we can take.
One that we most often take is the bible READING plan, where we follow a prescribed reading plan to read through the bible in a year, in 6 months or 90 days or something along those lines.
The plan is meant for us to read the next few chapters each day until we complete the book or the bible in the given amount of time.
Now reading through the bible in say a year, is great and gives us a wonderful overview of the big picture of Scripture and history from creatin through to revelation. My favorite type of bible reading plan is the chronological plan which guides you to read the bible in the order the events happened (not necessarily in the order it is laid out in the bible). This is great for helping us hang bible stories we know on the timeline of history and seeing how it all fits together.
I have led groups through this type of bible reading and it is beautiful. But it requires, like I said, reading several CHAPTERs of the bible per day and there by leaving us unsure of how to respond because we get overwhelmed with the story and information rather than slowing down to notice lessons therein.
Reading through the bible like this is important and necessary but I don’t consider it my time of intimacy with jesus. For me it’s usually while I’m walking my dog in the morning and it’s an audio bible in my ear buds in a very simple translation like the message. This gives me a great overview and helps me see in my minds eye the story line of the bible.
Another bible plan is more of a study method approach where we invest in big commentaries and word study dictionaries and we dig deep into a passage and really uncover the culture and background and original languages and all the details. I am a student at heart and I love this kind of deep study. It helps us learn so much about who these characters in Scripture are and about the culture of the time. It is a great way to learn for someone who is teaching other people too, because you want to have a deep understanding of the book you are teaching. Or if you, like me, are just curious and want to uncover the depth God has for us in His word as you lean in then deep inductive bible study is perfect for that.
Having come to the Lord from atheism in my early 20s, I devoured workbooks and teachings from so many great teachers. I then got deep into commentaries and word studies too. But eventually, after a decade of that, I realized I was dependent on those other voices to speak God’s truth to me rather than just the Holy Spirit through the Word. So from the methods I had learned, I developed the TEND method. This is just a simple, approachable 4 step method that unfolds God’s Word for us in a few minutes and allows us the space to respond in a meaningful way. I have been using this type of method for years now and have grown in my intimacy and listening of God through His word far more than I ever could through the voices of others.
The TEND method is an acronym. The T stands for take time to pray bc when we approach God’s Word we want to acknowledge that He is our teacher as Jesus said in John 14:26.
He said “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the father will send I my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
So we open our time in the Word asking Him to do just that!
Then we move to E which stands for examine the Scripture. This is where we slow way down and remember our goal is not to get through a book or even to get through the bible, but rather to know God better.
So we slow down, lean in and write out by hand the verses we are tending through. I usually only tend through 1-3 verses per day. I move methodically through a book of the bible beginning with chapter 1 verse 1 and then just come to the next verse the next day.
In examining the scripture I pay attention as I write the words from my bible. I look at the subjects, verbs, verb tenses. If there is a pronoun I define who that pronoun is referring to. I circle words or phrases that stand out and I put myself in the original scene as best as I can.
Then I move to the N in TEND which stands for notice the lesson. I begin by asking myself what can I learn about God from this verse. God’s word is about God not about me. I am called to respond to what He reveals about Himself. So we want to ask: what is this teaching about God?
Then I ask what is being taught to the original audience? To help guide me through to a lesson that is being revealed I ask if there is a son in this text or a promise to claim or an action to mimic or a command to obey or an example to follow. This helps me come to a lesson that is being taught that is congruent with the whole of scripture. I write that lesson down and then come to D in TEND which is do what it says. At this point I turn the lesson I wrote into a question God is asking me to respond to. Then I simply answer the question with action.
What will I DO in response to the lesson God is teaching me? This is so important because James 1:19 warns us to not be hears only but doers of the Word. We press the seed of the Word into the soil of our hearts when we act on what He is teaching us.
I regularly tend through verses here on the podcast and I’d love for you to subscribe to the podcast so you can follow along and we can tend our soul by the word of God together each week. Also I have a free booklet on cultivating time with Jesus for you at marieldavenporrt.com that might help you go back over the TEND method for yourself.
I have learned that when I am tending through a book of the bible in my time with the Lord and I have a plan to simple tend through the next verses, it draws me with greater excitement the next morning as I open my bible with intention.
You can start today with psalm 23, take 1 verse per day and use the TEND method to help you unfold the lessons in it and see how you might respond each day, little by little to the truth therein.
So friend, how will you approach God’s Word? What is your plan?
Whether you choose a reading plan to get through the bible in a year (and there are loads of free ones online!) or if you decide to deeply study a psalm or a passage or if you desire to tend your soul by the Word using the TEND method, I pray God will meet you right there in His Word with life, light and truth.
Father, I thank you that you make yourself known through your word. I pray for my listener friend as she seeks to tend her soul by the Word of God. Will you unfold your word to us as Ps 119 says and let it give us the light we need for our day. For our good and for your glory. Amen.
I hope you have found it helpful these last few episodes as we have spent some time preparing the soil of our heart to cultivate intimacy with Jesus through His Word with a purpose, a place, props, our posture and a plan.
You can find out more about these and the TEND method on my website marieldavenport.com and don’t forget to grab your free Tools for Tending your Soul booklet over on the website while you’re there!
Until next time, friend, keep tending your soul by the Word of God.