Postal Sunday School - Lesson 4

Part 3 of 4 of the series Postal Sunday School Course on Bible Study

Category: Study

In this lesson we shall say something about setting out and keeping notes. Perhaps we ought first to ask ourselves if there is anything to be gained by keeping notes. Now as few have photographic or even very retentive memories, recording notes does prove helpful. We can refer back at any time to the work which we have done. Also, by setting out facts, word themes or subjects we tend to “think them through” more fully, thus learning more from our consideration. It is generally true too, that the very effort involved in recording our “findings” engraves the facts on our minds more deeply.

We will try to illustrate the value of recording notes by a simple consideration from Haggai. We want you to read Haggai through once again now, but before you do we shall suggest something for which we wish you to look in particular. As you read this time, put down on a piece of paper each verse reference in which there is a contrast suggested between what the people did or expected and what they actually gained or found. An example is found in the words “Ye have sown much, and bring in little”. Try this exercise now and do not worry if you find it difficult at first.

Have you finished? Well done! Now which verses did you think were related to the subject? The correct answer is given at the end of the lesson. Notice that we have been tracing an idea which recurs throughout the book. We have not looked for the repetition of a particular word. Now if you were to leave your findings at that point you would remember very little about it after a while. Quite apart from this you would gain very little from the exercise. At this stage therefore, we are going to set out this subject on a piece of paper. We shall lay out the facts in columns. In one column we shall record the things which the people did actively. In another column we shall record the things which the people suffered passively. Use a separate line for each statement under the two headings and note the chapter and verse references on the left side of the page. Let us try it:

Ref. People did actively People suffered passively
1. 6 sown much — brought in little
  eat — have not enough
  drink — not filled
  clothes — not warm
  earn wages — bag with holes
1. 9 looked for much — came to little
  brought it home — I (God) blew upon it
1. 10   heaven over you is stayed earth stayed from fruit
1. 11   I (God) called for a drought
2. 16 came to a heap of  
  20 measures — but 10
  pressfat for 50 vessels — but 20
2. 17   I (God) smote you with blastings mildew, hail

Setting out facts like this not only helps us to remember them but also enforces the message of the book upon us. As we become more experienced we would go further than this and sum up the message of each page of notes in our own words. We might write this for instance on the subject we have been considering:

Haggai says in effect,

  • “Let the facts of your experience speak to you”.
  • “You have gained nothing at all by self-seeking.”
  • “In fact, you have lost even what you had”!

God was against them as they pursued selfish interests and left Him out. Similarly He encourages us to seek first His kingdom realising that all the necessary things of life will be given to us; compare Matt. 6. 33. The message of Haggai is “up to date” and the lesson for us to learn is that worldly desires and ambitions never bring satisfaction. We never find that for which we look when we leave God out or give Him second place in our lives.

There are many more lessons to learn as we study a book. Make a note of anything that strikes you, give it your careful and prayerful consideration and keep a record of what you find. You can then refer to your notes at any time in the future. By the way, did you set out a page of notes on that word study “consider” which we gave you in the last lesson? If not do so now. You may find this kind of thing hard at first but keep at it. The more you do the easier it will become! Each theme which you trace out should be approached in a similar way. Then as you spend perhaps a whole month reading and studying a book you will amass quite a number of sheets of paper dealing with it in different ways. We recommend that you use a loose-leaf notebook and standard size sheets of paper for this work. Then when you have finished studying a particular book you can remove the notes made from the notebook and file them away safely.

Be careful not to lose your notes. Place them in an envelope, mark the envelope with the name of the book (in our present case this would be “Haggai”) and keep it along with your other filed studies in a box or drawer for safety. In this way you will build up a simple filing system for your own notes to which you may quickly refer at any time.

Answer: Verse references are 1.6, 9, 10, 11; 2. 16.