I am not a Bible scholar or a pastor, and I am not formally trained in Bible study; but those things are not necessary to read the Bible and grow in your relationship with Jesus. I am an English teacher, and studying the Bible is like studying literature in many ways. There are certain key things that you can do to get more out of your time with God.
Ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit who brings life and meaning to our understanding of God’s Word; but as we dig in and try to find deeper meaning, I believe the Holy Spirit can speak to us in deeper ways.
There is no one right way to study the Bible just as there is no one right way to read a book. Some people read slowly and take apart every word and every nuance. Others read quickly for overall meaning and then read again. I have done both, but I usually just start out reading and see where the Spirit leads.
The following things are helpful if you want to become a student of the Bible.
- Choose a Bible that you are comfortable with, that you can understand. For a long time, I used the King James Version of the Bible. It was what I had grown up with, and I love the sound of the language that many find old-fashioned. It was more appealing to me than the updated versions, like the NIV. But that’s me. You should choose a Bible that works for you. Even choosing a children’s Bible is okay if that is what is comfortable to you. The key here is to gain meaning, and the Holy Spirit can speak to us through God’s Word, regardless of the interpretation.
- Try to choose a Bible that has some study tips, history, or commentary right on the pages that you are reading. There are many Bibles like that available. Two that are popular are the Fire Bible (Hendrickson Bible Publishers), which is an NIV translation, and the Everyday Bible by Joyce Meyer (FaithWords Publisher), which is the Amplified translation. I wouldn’t recommend the Student version of the Fire Bible just because the print is so tiny. The ASV Bible is another translation. My husband likes this one. I’m not sure of any specific study Bible with this translation. If you like the King James Version, the Open Bible (Thomas Nelson Publisher) is another good one. I have that and used it exclusively for many years, but now I use the Everyday Bible.
- Don’t be intimidated. You can read and understand the Bible on your own. You just have to start. If you get a good study Bible, you don’t need a lot of other books. There are concordances and Bible history books available, but I would just start with God’s Word.
- Start simply. Get a highlighter, a journal or spiral notebook, and a pen. Also, a smart phone can be helpful to look things up if you really get stuck. And you might want a dictionary, or you can use dictionary.com on your phone.
- If you want some specific passages to read daily, there are lots of devotional books available. I have been using Our Daily Bread for years. You can have it delivered to your home every month or you can read it online. But again, there are so many options available. Just find one and begin. These can be a jumping off place for your Bible study.
- If you don’t want to be tied into a devotional book, just choose a book of the Bible to study. I wouldn’t read randomly every day. You want some order and context to your reading. Choose one book at a time. You can start at the beginning of the New Testament or choose a smaller New Testament book to start. Or you can start at the beginning in Genesis. It’s up to you.
- The last thing you need is a quiet place and a specific time. If you build a specific time of day for studying your Bible into your routine, you’ll be a lot more likely to stick with it. Honestly, I struggled for years in accomplishing any meaningful Bible study. I was relying on books and not digging in to God’s Word myself. I found that when I began journaling and really looking at the Word on my own, it became much more interesting and a lot easier to keep committed to that daily personal time.
Gather your Bible and materials and stop back to read Part 2 of this series.
Until next time.