Bible Study Techniques

The Shape of God’s Word – Part 2

The bottom shelf of my quiet-time table is filled with artist journals, and the top of the table has a container filled with felt tip pens and colored pencils. 

My red armchair, draped with a soft blanket, sits next to this table, and the view out my window is Roxy Ann Peak.  This chair, table, and scenery have become my special place to meet with God each morning at 7:00 a.m.

With steaming hot, creamy coffee in hand, I sit in my red chair, look out my window and say a prayer of thanks. Then I grab the journal that still has empty pages, and I write down that day’s Bible passage with the words large enough to cover half the page. 

During one of these morning rituals, I created a technique called “Find the Why.”   I noticed that the Bible writers often explain why we should behave or think a certain way.  The Bible doesn’t just say, “do it” without reason.

When I applied this technique to Hebrews 12:1-3 about the race marked out for us, I saw something remarkable.

I organized Hebrews 12:1-3 by separating the phrases that tell me my “why” from those that tell me my “action.”   After I did this with this passage, I was astonished that the motivation side and the obedience side each have three phrases, creating a visual path.  Below is the result.

Now that I can see the shape of this passage, I can apply it to my heart.  

First, we need to find the subject of a passage. Then we can identify “The Why” and “The How.” Hebrews 12:-1-3 is centered around the concept that Life is like a race and this race is marked out for us. As we journey through this life, we are moving towards our eternal destiny. God describes life as a race because we must run it, and it will involve effort and commitment.  We can’t be passive in this race.    

Now that we know the subject is the race, we need to know HOW TO run it and the MOTIVATION to keep going.


I have never run a marathon, but I can imagine the adrenaline pulsing in my body as the people on the sidelines are cheering me on and calling out my name. The writer of this passage tells us that as we run the race, we have a great cloud of witnesses in heaven cheering us on – so that we won’t get too discouraged.  We are to consider those who ran this Christian race well and be inspired by them.

Hebrews 11 is the chapter regarded as the Hall of Faith.  The writer highlights a few people of faith that have gone before us. Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham endured much for the sake of God’s promises.  It is often useful to read the chapter before the chapter of the passage you are reading. This will give you more insight into your passage.

We also are to consider how Jesus suffered during the years he lived on this earth. For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross, scorning its shame.  He did this for you and me.  Jesus ran the race with Joy, knowing his death would be the salvation of many.


With my inspiration to run this race, God tells me how I am to run it.  I am to throw off everything that entangles me.  Can you imagine running a race with a big backpack on your back?  Carrying bitterness, anger, and sin in our hearts is just as absurd as running with a heavy load.  We are to purge ourselves of sinful thoughts to run this race with joy.

Also, I am to run with perseverance.  Is there any other way to run?  What happens to a marathon runner who does not have the endurance and determination to finish?  They quit.  There is always that moment in the race when you don’t think you can go on.  God says, keep going. You are going to make it.

Finally, I am to fix my eye on Jesus because he is the pioneer and perfector of my faith.  A pioneer is a forerunner, creator, innovator.  Jesus is the reason I run this race.

I hope you try out this technique.  Here is a list of verses that works well with the “Find the Why” technique.  Find the phrases that tell you to do something, and then find the phrases that give you a reason for why you should do it.  

James 5:7-11

John 13:34-35

James 1:2-8

Philippians 4:4-8

Let me know what you think.  Did it help you?

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