Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Bible Application

Application: Why does it matter?

A 2016 LifeWay Research Study found that more than half of Americans have read little or none of the Bible. Of those who said they read it in the past week, just over half say they give a lot of thought to how it might apply to their life. Why do people read the Bible?  If you're honest with yourself, what is your reason?

The Bible is different from textbooks and history books. It is the very Word of God. Its intent is to help us for everyday life to know God and for Him to shape us to reflect Him. To be able to read it is not enough. We need to learn to make it practical. We need it for application.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, application is: 

The action of putting something into operation, often with practical use or relevance

We want to apply God's Word to our life and put it to use. We want it to help us live right with both God and man.

Application is two-pronged. 

  • Internal: for our thoughts, emotions, heart before God.
  • External: for our outward actions, relationships with others


All Bible studies should have application. God's Word is meant to be applied to our life. It is a foundational part of Inductive Bible Study.

  • Observation : What does it say
  • Interpretation : What does it mean
  • Application : Why does it matter


I was twenty three and in over my head! I lived in Manhattan. I got an eviction notice to raze my building, a court order on a car I no longer owned, was a new Emergency Room nurse in a busy New York City ER, and I was the lead organizer for a continuing education nursing workshop while my planning committee disintegrated before my eyes.

One night I read Psalm 42.

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.  By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life. Psalm 42:7-8 (NIV).

I was in deep and overwhelmed. I put the verses on a post-it note to dwell on. It seemed my sole comfort. I felt God had put me in this situation. I was honest with Him. It was He who let me get swept over like Jonah in the big fish. What comfort was there in that? Should I be angry with Him? I imagined that those waves were God but though turbulent, they were also His presence. "I've got you," He whispered.

This verse showed He loved me day and night. At nights everything seems worse than reality. Yet at night He was with me giving me comforting songs to sing. He was the God of my life. That is application. Holy practicality in everyday life. He brought me through those days learning about God, and clinging to Him.


The word APPLY will help usremember how to apply the Bible.

  • Alive
  • Practical
  • Profitable
  • Lord based
  • You


God's Word is from the eternal living God. It is dynamic and active, not in the respect that it changes, but rather that it is relevant in multiple situations, crossing time and culture. It was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and so it is expressed well. The Holy Spirit continues to help us apply it today. This is different from other ancient works that are static and merely an interesting time capsule.  

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4: 12 NLT



More blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice. Luke 11:28 NLT

The Bible gives guidelines for how we should live. It helps us deal with our emotions, interact with others, make sound decisions, and represent all that is right in what we do.  It is designed to not just teach us, but coach us in the way we should live.

An old hymn, "Trust and Obey," tells us that trust and obedience to God and His Word are the foundations of our happiness. It is not a giddy giggling happiness, but rather a rest, joy and a peace in God for all we say and do. 

Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Phil. 4:9 NLT

Profitable. So how specifically can it help us in life? Check out this list! 

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3: 16 (NLT).



To teach us what is true. It teaches us attitudes, actions towards others in family, in business, in conflict, in principles of work and ethics, and so much more.


To make us realize what is wrong. It touches the heart and helps us examine our motives. It pricks us when we have been behaving badly.


To correct us when we are wrong. It shows us the better way to act. It shows us how to remedy a bad relationship. It guides us how to respond when we are angry or have made poor ethical choices. And it also helps us to respond well when others have wronged us.


It teaches us to do what is right. It is the coaching we need for learning to live out our actions, and respond right when our emotions run amuck. Remember when life got overwhelming for me when I worked in Manhattan? God's Word on a post-it note, and in my wallet, and in my journal was a continual reminder to find my peace and rest in God. It was like training wheels on a bike. It trained me to adjust my anxiety and turn my anxious thoughts to Him for strength.

Lord based

We apply the Scriptures to our lives to act more like we belong to God. The aim of application is to reflect Him in as we interact with others. However, it is also to cultivate the relationship we have with Him. He is our Lord, the reigning God of the Universe. But He is also our heavenly Father, our Friend, our Counselor. He has given His Word to us to help us know Him better. He communicates we us through His Word. He comforts us. He gives us peace. Sometimes I have laughed seeing God's sense of humor as I read.

He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. 9 God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. I Cor. 1:8-9 NLT

What God says is what we read in His Word. This brings us into the partnership, the relationship, with Him. It is not static, it is dynamic and ongoing.


The real question of applications is, what does it matter to you? How does what we read in the Bible matter for you, for your day to day experiences and your relationships with family, friends and co-workers? Are you one who sees all kinds of application for a friend, your spouse or you kids? Avoid that and force yourself to bring the attention of the passage back to YOU. God may eventually give you the forum to share the insights to someone else, but the purpose is for us to individually grow. At the core those timeless truths help you have an amazing, fulfilling life.

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10 NLT


The whole process of Inductive Bible Study hinges together and flows from one to the next as a continuum. Observation flows into Interpretation. Interpretation is critical to Application and applications may be jumping out at you as you are in process. Application is a sort of examination of your heart. It moves from the head knowledge to heart integration. The real question becomes, do you intend to obey what you discover in God's Word?

Take a moment to ask the Holy Spirit again for guidance. Meditate a bit more if you still need to let it soak in.


Application standard operation. This applies to application of anything even in science experiments. Think S.M.A.R.T.  It is always good to ask yourself, is it… 

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time sensitive (make a plan to address it)

Every passage is different so the questions you ask yourself will be varied. For some the application is

very obvious. For others, like genealogy lists, it may take some more guidance and reflection to work through it.  Difficult passages for application will be a future topic at this blog. 

Here is a good rubric for application. You may have seen this before in one form or another. These are great questions to ask. It follows the anacronym, S.P.E.C.K. Is there a…

  • Sin to admit/confess
  • Promise to claim
  • Example to follow
  • Command(s) to obey
  • Knowledge about God

Be sure to write down how you think the Holy Spirit is leading you to apply this. It may be useful to memorize a verse, or put a verse on a sticky note to post on your mirror or fridge. Perhaps you want to share it with someone you ask to be your accountability partner. Make sure it is not just a thought in your head that you never intend to follow up on.

Christian Author, Jerry Bridges, puts it this way. "As we search the Scriptures, we must allow them to search us."

Cultivate Holy practicality in your everyday life. 

Up Next: How I got this way

Previous Post: Bible Interpretation


For reflection: Try to apply a question in today's blog or an approach to your Bible reading. You can start with a short verse or passage. Run S.P.E.C.K. through the verse and see how it leads you. 

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