The Life of Joseph – Part 1

I shared on my blog earlier this year how I learned the 3 question Bible study method as an adult. But I didn’t go into a lot of detail about it.

Recently I’ve been studying the life of Joseph using this Bible study method, so I thought I’d type up my notes and share them with you. This way you can learn the 3 questions and how to apply them to your own personal Bible study.  I’d love to hear what you think of this method and also how you like to study the scriptures.

I usually focus on a paragraph at a time. Sometimes more, sometimes less–depending on the length of the scripture involved or the amount of time I have to devote to Bible study that day. Today I think I’ll just take one verse and apply the 3 questions to it so you can get a feel for it pretty quickly.

The first thing I do when I sit down to study scripture is to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to me through the Word. I can sometimes come up with some obvious truths and applications on my own, but I want to know what God wants to teach me and what He knows I need to learn that day.

The next thing I do is read the scripture passage a few times, usually in a couple of different versions. There are a few modern translations that I really like and then I almost always read it in the Amplified version also. I like the Amplified because it doesn’t translate one word for one word. If it takes a few words in our language to describe the meaning of the word in the original language, that’s what you get. I think it gives a better picture of what’s happening in the scriptures a lot of times. At least it has helped me understand some passages that weren’t so easy to comprehend.

Then I start asking the questions.

(1) The first question is: What are the Facts? Who, what, when, where, why, and how. I’m a pretty detailed person so sometimes my answer to this question is as long as the actual scripture. But sometimes the main facts in a scripture passage can be condensed into fewer words.

(2) The second question is: What are the Truths? This goes beyond the facts. These are underlying principles that can be applied in more than just the situation in the particular passage you’re studying. They’re life lessons that can be applied to our lives today.

(3) The third question is: What are some Application Questions that will help you apply each truth to your life? This is where it gets practical. Create some questions — that can’t be answered with a yes or no — that will help you apply each truth you found in the scripture passage to your own life. This was a little difficult for me at first. But it does get easier with practice.

Here are a few things I’ve learned while using this Bible study method:

When I’ve done this in a group Bible study, we don’t all get the same truths! We all usually find the same facts . But I’ve discovered that based on what’s going on in your life, the Holy Spirit will reveal the truths that you need at that point in time.

Another thing I learned is that I don’t always find the same truths when I study the same scripture passage. It depends on what’s going on with me at that point in time as to what the Holy Spirit reveals to me.

And I’ve also seen God speak to other people in the group through what He’s revealed to just one person.

All of these show that the scriptures are ALIVE and also how important it is to pray every time before you study each scripture passage. You never know what God wants to show you or what He wants to show someone else you may share your lessons with.

So let’s tackle the first verse in our study of Joseph. The verse is Genesis 37:1. I’m going to share it in the NIV and Amplified versions.

Genesis 37:1

New International Version (NIV)

37 Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.

Genesis 37:1

Amplified Bible (AMP)

37 So Jacob dwelt in the land in which his father had been a stranger and sojourner, in the land of Canaan.

1. What are the Facts?

Jacob settled in Canaan where his father had lived as a foreigner.

[For those who aren’t familiar with Joseph’s family: Jacob is Joseph’s father. Jacob was renamed Israel by God and is sometimes called Israel in Joseph’s story. And Jacob’s father was Isaac.]

2. What are the Truths?

Where our parents considered ‘foreign’ we make our home.

3. Application Questions:

What trails did my parents blaze for me?

Which ones have I blazed for my child(ren)?

What ‘foreign’ lands have I moved to and settled?

What journey do I need to continue?

Who do I need to show the way?

Sometimes when I’m praying and meditating on the passage and on the truths revealed to me, I also write down some of my thoughts. Here’s what I wrote down when I studied this verse–which will show you how I came up with some of the application questions.

My Commentary: Our parents (physical and spiritual) can blaze the trail and make following God easier for us. Their job is to show us the way by their example. Our job is to continue the journey and grow and show the way to others. Sometimes part of our journey is returning to the roots our parents put down.

That’s all for today. We’ll tackle a little more of Joseph’s life next time.

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