Earlier this year my friend Alex Rodriguez, from the Men’s Muster, introduced me to a great book on the topic of Bible study. I eventually picked it up and gave it a read. It quickly became one of my favorite reads in 2018. The book is Seven Arrows from Matt Rogers and Donny Mathis. If this book sounds familiar it’s because we covered their Bible study method in a previous tip on this site.
So, imagine my surprise when I’m perusing my local LifeWay Christian Bookstore and see a book titled Seven Arrows at the front of the store. No, it wasn’t a copy of the book I’d read earlier in the year, this was something new. Its full title was Seven Arrows: A 52-week Devotional for Teens. Even though I’m not a teen, the Bible study geek in me purchased it immediately because I realized its usefulness for personal study.
It is this book that we’re taking a look at today. I wouldn’t call this a review of the book, because you know I only talk about study tools worth owning. Instead, we’re circling around for a second glance at the Seven Arrows Bible study method. We will also see how this devotional companion can be of use in your Bible study and spiritual growth. So, let’s check it out!
Before we talk about the devotional, let’s recap what the Seven Arrows Bible study method is all about.
The Seven Arrows method is the brainchild of Matt Rogers, pastor of The Church at Cherrydale. After planting the church in Greenville, South Carolina, he began meeting regularly with a young man in his congregation. This young man was full of questions about God’s Word. But, he didn’t know where to start studying. He read his Bible & asked questions, but didn’t have a plan for study or growth. This ultimately led to confusion & doubt.
In response, Matt developed a plan to help this young man better study God’s Word. He knew he couldn’t hand him a stack of theology books, nor did he want to give him a set of rules. So, he began doodling on a napkin the steps & questions he used when studying a passage on his own. As Matt doodled he used arrows to indicate meaning.
What emerged from Matt’s few moments of doodling was the Seven Arrows method of Bible study: a series of seven questions for understanding & making application of any passage. As we answer these questions the meaning of the text becomes clear. And we also walk away with real application for ourselves & others. The seven arrows and questions are as follows:
This later became encapsulated in the book Seven Arrows, which explains the Bible study method in great detail.
With the success of the Seven Arrows book, Matt Rogers and his wife Sarah teamed up with LifeWay to release a companion 52-week devotional. Over the years, LifeWay has become known for their outstanding Sunday school and small group curriculum. So, it is only right that such a great Bible study method is put into such an accessible format.
The book’s design is straightforward and gets right to the point. After a brief introduction, Matt and Sarah highlight the steps of the Seven Arrows Bible study method. Next they walk through an example of the devotional content and how to answer the questions. And then you have 52-weeks of 5-day devotions walking you through various Bible passages.
Now, the devotions themselves are not random. The first week begins in the book of Genesis at creation. Each subsequent week walks you through the narrative of Scripture until you reach Revelation and the glorious conclusion to God’s plan that awaits us. The devotions are divided into nine overarching themes and narratives:
As you move through each chapter you encounter their key passages. With 5 devotions per week, 4 devotions are dedicated to the chapter’s theme, while the final day’s devotion focuses on the gospel and points you specifically to Christ as the center of Scripture.
What I like most about the Seven Arrows Devotional is how easy it is to use. Its audience is teens who are busy with school and extracurricular activities, so it’s designed to get in & out quickly.
Here’s how to use the devotional in four steps:
First, begin with prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you’re about to read. Without the assistance of the Spirit we have no hope of making sense of God’s Word, so we’d be remiss to not ask him to show up.
Once you’ve prayed, crack open your Bible and read the day’s passage. The passages are not long and should only take a few minutes to read. If you have difficulty understanding what’s happening, give it a second read. Then read the accompanying devotional content in the Seven Arrows book, which summarizes the passage’s content. Also, when you reach a new chapter in the devotional be sure to read that content before the day’s reading.
Next, answer each of the seven arrow questions. What does the passage say? How would the original hearers have understood it? Summarize what you learn about God and man. Ponder what the passage requires of you in response. How will you treat others differently based on what you read? What will you pray in response to what you read? The goal is to be brief and get to the main point with your answers. The lines in the devotional for each question are short on purpose.
Finally, take everything you’ve read and put it into practice. You answered how you should respond and treat others differently, so begin living that out.
Like I said, the devotional is not meant to take a lot of time. Yet, the time spent should expand your knowledge of God’s Word and how it applies to your life. And know, if you ever get stuck on a question, you’re free to reference your Bible study library. That’s what they’re there for.
The subtitle of this version of Seven Arrows says it is “A 52-week Devotional for Teens,” but I do not believe that is the only audience for this book. While its primary market might be youth groups and teens, this is a tool any and every Christian can use. Seven Arrows is especially helpful if you are like the guy Matt mentored. You want to read the Bible and understand it, but it just feels overwhelming. This devotional workbook will walk you through the entire meta-narrative of Scripture in the span of a year. Not only that, but you will understand and have it impact your life!
Use it on your own as a morning devotion. Go through it with your spouse or a friend. Have your entire family go through it as part of your family devotions. Introduce it to your church’s youth pastor to use with the teens. Make it the curriculum of your small group or Sunday school class. Pastors can even use it as a way to preach through the Bible in a year, while having their congregation follow along. The possibilities are endless.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been a Christian for a few days or several decades, we all have more to learn from God’s Word. As such, we can all benefit from a devotional like this that forces us to focus on God’s Word and his Christ.
The bottom line is this: the Seven Arrows Devotional is for everyone.
So, what’s your target? What is your Bible study aiming at? If you don’t have a target, I highly recommend picking up a copy of the Seven Arrows Devotional and spending a year going through it.
I can assure you that it will be time well spent. Not only will you walk away with a greater appreciation for God’s Word, but you’ll be better equipped to live it out.
Will you use this in the coming year? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think of the Seven Arrows Devotional.
This week, meditate and journal on the following passages: