Making a commitment to read and study God’s Word aka The Bible, has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. Studying and initially simply reading the Bible enhanced my spiritual growth exponentially. It has provided a consistent way for me to directly hear from God, as well as learn about who God really is. Thanks to modern technology, every believer can experience this same growth for themselves.
When I first got saved, reading the Bible intimidated me. Despite having grown up in church and already graduated from college, I had no idea where to start. I knew many of the famous Bible stories, but really didn’t have a clear picture for how to truly read or study the scriptures.
Just to share my testimony, I now not only understand how to read and study the scriptures, I’m actually a Sunday School teacher at my church. So, if my story above sounds a lot like you, understand…THERE IS HOPE!
I want to help you begin reading the Bible and studying it for yourself. Rather than just tell you that you can do this, I’d like to share with you three practical steps that will significantly enhance your ability to study and understand The Bible, as well as your deepen your relationship with the Lord. They are:
1. Make a Commitment to Read and Study The Bible
If you have read this far, you have the desire to start the process. The next step is to then determine what you desire the end goal of your studies to be. Are you seeking personal development? Would you like an overview of The Bible? Or, do you wish to learn more about specific Biblical heroes?
For instance, at the end of 2011, I decided I needed a broader understanding of the Bible. I also wanted to spend time in God’s Word daily. So I decided to undergo a Bible in a Year Plan via the YouVersion App on my iPhone. By December 31, I will have read the Bible from cover to cover. I start every day with this and it has been a blessing to me each morning.
2. Get the Appropriate Bible Study Resources
Once you’ve figured out what you want to accomplish, figure out what resources you need. I’d recommend a good Study Bible no matter what. Scripture itself is actually the best resource for interpreting scripture, given that it never contradicts itself. I personally prefer the ESV Study Bible, the John MacArthur Study Bible as well as The Life Application Bible. I’ve had all three for several years and love them each for different reasons. These specific Bibles have helped me understand certain passages and has provided critical background information on Biblical cities, people, writers and even theology. In addition, you may need a Bible Atlas, an Exhaustive Concordance, a Bible Dictionary or a Bible Handbook depending on your stated goals.
For instance, if you decide you want to study on love, an Exhaustive Concordance, as well as greek-hebrew dictionary would be beneficial. You could utilize those tools to do a word study on Love, as well as learn the three types of love (Agape, Eros and Philia) that are discussed in the Bible.
- discover what the physical layout of Corinth during Biblical times
- amass a comprehensive listing of Biblical events that occured there
- better understand the city’s culture (i.e. – the racial demographics, economic climate, etc.)
This would then give you an excellent backdrop if you decided to read and study either of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians.
3. Start a Plan for Reading The Bible
The difference between a dream and a goal is a plan. Or put another way, a goal is a dream with a plan. You may desire to study the Bible. You may have even determined what you wish to accomplish during your study period and have purchased several resources that will aid you in your studies. However, if you don’t set a legitimate plan, your dreams will remain dreams. This is true in every area of your life, including Bible Study.
I highly recommend youversion.com if you have never done this before. YouVersion has tons of plans of varying lengths, topics and depth. If you have a smartphone, download the YouVersion Bible App. The app makes it convenient for you to read The Bible as it syncs across your computer, phone and/or tablet. I read my Bible in a Year Plan mostly on my iPad or iPhone every morning.
Regardless, visit the site or download the app and find the plan that matches your goals. You may wish to start with a 5-day plan on “The Christmas Story.” Schedule time in your calendar each day to do it, find a quiet place and then go! Journal your thoughts and write down how the passages apply to your life. Feel free to use your Study Bible and dig deeper with additional resources as you go. You can do this!
If you are still a bit shaky on this, let me suggest three other books that have also helped me in my bible studies:
- Bible Study Methods: 12 Ways You Can Unlock God’s Word: By Rick Warren
- I reference this book a lot. It thoroughly explains how to execute 12 different Bible Study Methods. I know Pastor’s who use these techniques for sermon prep and research. Depending on the lesson, I typically use one of these when I prepare my Sunday School Lessons. I’ve used several of these techniques to prepare certain blogs I’ve written for this site as well.
- The New How To Study Your Bible by Kay Arthur
- This book gives a broad overview for how to approach God’s word. It uses the observation, interpretation, and application method to help you dig deeper and smarter in the Biblical text.
- How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth by Gordon Fee
- This book will help you understand the nuances for each type of book in the Bible. Yes, studying Psalms will take a different approach than studying one of the Gospels. Fee explains exactly what that should look like in this resource. I highly recommend this as well.
By no means is this meant to be an exhaustive resource for how to study the Bible. As mentioned above, entire books and seminary courses have been given on this subject. Prayerfully though, this can help point you in the right direction. Be thankful we live in a day and age where the Word of God is so readily accessible. Meet God in his Word every day, and I guarantee you that you will see your life change for the good, as you develop a deeper relationship with the Lord.