Looking for some helpful hints as you begin to study your Bible? Whether this is your first time looking into scripture for yourself, or you are coming back from a hiatus (we’ve all been there), let these tips and resources help you along the way:
1. Be Book-Oriented:
I know, I know. Reading is hard, boring, and difficult on the eyes. But if you want to study God’s Word for yourself, you are going to have to read.
Watching YouTube sermons, taking notes at church, flipping through a daily devotional can help you to know about God. However, nothing compares to an intimate, personal understanding of God’s Word to truly know God from what HE says about himself.
So get reading glasses if you have to, go as slow as you need to, but let yourself take in the Word of God using the incredible gift God gave you: to read it for yourself.
2. Use a Bible with Actual Pages:
Dust off that heavy hunk of God’s Word, open the pages, and smell the paper. Inviting, is it not? Ok, maybe you aren’t the tangible type, but having the book itself in front of you can help when tackling a tough passage. Many Bibles feature cross-references (verses that help explain/connect with the verse you are reading), just look in the side note or bottom of the page.
3. Scribble It Up:
Once you have your Bible in hand, get a pen (or pencil), highlighter, and tabs stickers. Release yourself from the assumption that God’s word is untouchable–it isn’t. God’s word is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). We can be living and active too as we read it.
At the funeral of a wonderful, godly woman, the pastor noted her greatest legacy: her Bible. The pages were worn and crinkled, blank spaces scribbled with notes and prayers, verses underlined.
Moral of the story? If you know your Bible well, you know your Savior well.
4. The Christian bookstore is your friend.
Unlike the woman from the funeral, I will not have one Bible that lasted me a lifetime. I tend to read excitedly, and aggressively. My Bible has ripped corners, chocolate smudges, and tear-stained pages. So, every 5 years or so, I purchase a new Bible. The freshness is inviting. The blank page margins intrigue me: “what is God going to teach me this time?”
Also, if your Bible is a child’s version, teen edition, or maybe a hard-to-read translation (like KJV), it might be time to visit your local Christian bookstore to search for something relevant.
5. Journal the Journey:
Keep track of your spiritual walk with God. One man keeps a journal as he reads through the entire Bible every year. He has read the Bible in a year over 20 times! In his 20+ journals, each day features his thoughts on the same passage, every year. He can flip to January 1st, read what God taught Him through Genesis 1, and compare it to what God taught him every January 1st for the last 20 years of his life!
6. Use the Right Tools:
A good commentary can help explain the cultural and theological background behind passages in the Bible. It is a great place to start before reading a book in the Bible (like Isaiah, for instance) to understand the audience the book was written to, the author, and the style of communication (letter, book of history, poetry, etc.)
Shane and I frequently utilize “The Bible Knowledge Commentary,” given to us by our former Collegiate Ministry directors when we began ministry.
Ask your pastor or mentor for a suggestion. See if your church or local library has one available. You can also find helpful commentaries via the internet or apps, but use caution.
7. Find the Free Stuff.
Many published authors and pastors have free Bible study stuff just waiting to be downloaded. Search their sites for more Bible study resources like books, descriptive sermons (like a sermon series on Ephesians), and more commentaries. Here are some of our favorites, from different denominations and cultural backgrounds (all Bible based):
- The Summit Church (Pastor J.D. Greear): http://www.summitrdu.com
- Truth for Life (with Alistair Begg): http://www.truthforlife.org
- Redeemer Presbyterian Church (with Pastor Timothy Keller): http://www.redeemer.com
8. Grab that App:
If you are tight on space, cash, and calendar, you can still study your Bible in depth and every day with these free apps. My favorite is YouVersion: https://www.youversion.com features the Bible in hundreds of different versions and languages; reading plans (I love this feature); and free downloads of the Bible, so the WiFi can’t take it from you… ah, 1st world problems.
9. God’s Word on the Web:
Study your Bible with your computer handy, just in case you run into verses that resemble “Riddles in the Dark” (for you Hobbit fans).
- http://www.biblestudytools.com: great Bible study notes, commentaries, illustrations, daily Bible reading, concordances, a parallel Bible tool, and daily devotionals.
- http://biblos.com: atlas and maps, dictionary, commentaries, reference Bible, Bible in other languages.
- http://www.biblegateway.com: this one is my favorite for searching for verses/themes in the Bible, and in different versions. I like this site better than my YouVersion app (and that’s saying a lot!)
Happy Bible Studying!
What helped you to start reading the Bible? Do you have a resource you love? Add to the list in a comment below!
Not a beginner? Maybe the reason you haven’t studied the Bible lately is something different. Check out other excuses the Bible Study struggle.