Want to start STUDYING the Bible? Really digging deeper into the Word of God? This series might be for you. Here are a few tips in a series of Bible Study. These tips and steps have really helped me dig deeper into what God is saying in His Word, and how to understand it BEFORE going to extra biblical resources. In this first post, I am going to introduce WHY we should study the Bible as well as some practical TOOLS needed for this endeavor.
The start of a New Year always brings new goals and resolutions. I think this year more than many before, a lot of women I see are vowing to read their Bibles more this year. I am in a group where a thousand such women are reading the WHOLE Bible in a year. (Yes, I am doing this!) I love groups like this. There is something about reading the same passage as others and about the accountability of knowing others are doing the same thing.
Why are we reading it? Are we reading it just to read it? Are we reading it to complete a task for the day? Or are we absorbing it? Are we studying it? The idea that 15 minutes a day to read is amazing. It’s great. I think God can and does use that time to teach and mold us. But can we go deeper? Can we get off that milk idea of reading the Bible for 5-15 minutes a day and listening to a sermon on Sunday morning and really dig deeper into the meat and potatoes?
I know the idea of studying the Bible is so daunting. It can seem so overwhelming to figure out where to begin and HOW to begin. What to look for, how to find themes and keys and meanings behind all these words. Words that we have heard a million times AND the ones we are reading for the first time.
But the beauty of the Bible is that it was written for people to understand. Think about it, it has been translated to YOUR language. And new versions and translations are popping up all the time so that more and more people not only can read it but that they understand it, too. Hallelujah! That’s amazing to me!
What are a few things you need?
Tool # 1. Pick out your Bible and Translation. There are several translations that I like because they are closer to the original text, but still are understandable. NKJV, CSB, and ESV are my personal favorites. (Be careful about using versions like the Message. While they still have value, they are transliterated and condensed to paraphrase thoughts and not individual words and verses.) There are also many, many versions of the different translations of the Bible. I have a few study Bibles (The Study Bible for Women is my absolute favorite of all time), I also have a few journaling Bibles that has no notes or concordance or anything like that, which I will use for this project, and I also have a Systematic Theology Bible.
Extrabiblical information is a great tool to understand the history and some theology behind the words on the page. Meaning and context is a KEY in understanding what you’re reading. I like the Study Bible for women because it has Hebrew and Greek words, commentary on the side, highlighting of women in the Bible and what we can learn from them, as well as the dating, setting, authorship, and all the background information of the text.
HOWEVER, before I read any of the extrabiblical information, I read the text FIRST! I don’t want to be influenced by outside sources before I read what God has written first. I know, I know, I read the cliff’s notes to books in high school before (or instead of) the main book. That’s the culture we grew up in. That was expected. I still passed the classes. But I don’t remember any of it now. When we read the Bible, we don’t want the cliff’s notes version. (Which is why I don’t like many devotionals, but I’ll get into that at a later time.) We don’t want to see what other’s have said about the text or what they think the text means. At least not at first. We want to use what others have said to (1) compare what we have learned and (2) to further our knowledge. We want to START with the actual text of the Word of God.
I like starting with a new, clean, fresh Bible for each time I’ve finished studying it. Whether that be every year, every could of years, whatever. I like starting fresh. That way, I can concentrate on different key points with each study. In this instance, I would start with a journaling Bible. One that has thicker pages and where I can highlight.
Tool # 2. Grab a Notebook or binder. Simple, right? Many people might not think that you need to take notes when you read the Bible, though. Especially alone. While listening to a pastor, sure. Occasionally. But not just in my quiet time.
Sister, why do we take notes in our job, how to homeschool kids, make crazy trello and pinterest boards and do all the things, but we don’t take care to do the same with the Holy Word of God? It’s not just one more thing to do. Please, don’t see it like that. It’s THE MOST IMPORTANT thing to do. To worship and study and learn how to love a holy, worthy Savior through His written words TO US. That’s incredible. It’s honestly indescribable.
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.Hebrews 4:12
When you learn how to teach kids, or how to be a better learner, you hear all the different avenues for learning. Hearing, Seeing, and Doing. (Auditory, visual, and kinetic.) There are others, but those are the main ones we learned in school. So, when we learned how to study in school and college, we were taught that taking notes tapped into the visual AND the kinetic sides of learning. Say them out loud when you wrote, and you have all three forms!
Note taking is vital in parsing out themes and key words and most importantly the MEANING behind what we are reading. Not only does it help us get our thoughts together, but it also etches the words of the verses and everything we’ve discovered into our minds. That’s so important for everyday life! Jesus didn’t just resist the Devil’s temptations. He QUOTED scripture. Not only did He quote scripture, but He also REFUTED Satan’s misquoted scripture. Sister, if nothing else, my main purpose in this series is to help you better discern TRUTH in God’s Word from others who misquote and abuse verses. So many popular teachers use verses, or parts of verses, out of context to facilitate their earthly thoughts and desires. I would love to help you learn how to use your Sword of the Spirit to fight off temptation AND combat false teachers. Yes, dear friend, we are in a war “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of [a]the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6: 12) And if we are not properly equipped, we not only will be useless in battle, but we will be a hinderance to fellow soldiers.
I do make some notes in my Bible, especially if I have a notetaking Bible. I also highlight. When I want to get into the deeper parts of understanding the Word of God, I grab a notebook or folder and paper. Something that I can keep my thoughts and findings for years to come. I occasionally type it, but there is something about physically writing it down. Especially in the first few times going over a book or chapter. (Yes! I said first few. This is not just a one and done thing.)
Tool # 3. Make a KEY. I know a lot of people highlight in their Bibles. Some people make symbols in their Bibles for key words. I can’t do that. I get too distracted. I also can’t highlight every word. Again. *squirrel*.
I prefer a topical highlighter method. (I really like Crayola Twistables or Zebra Mildliners.) I decide at the beginning of my year/ new Bible what some key concepts I want to highlight for that year.
Some topics I’ve done are
Salvation – Red
Women – Pink
Imperative commands – blue
Interesting thoughts – green
God’s holiness – yellow
Messianic promises – purple
If you are concentrating on parenting for the year, that would be a great topic.
Love, money, prayer, marriage, even food…all great topics. The Bible covers a myriad of topics, all of which you can learn about. And highlighting these passages or words will help bring that topic to life.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.2 Timothy 3:16-17
Write the key on a bookmark or in the back of your new Bible. I like the back of the Bible because I personally lose bookmarks allllll the time. And I forget the color code of my highlights.
While I personally do NOT like a topical lesson or sermon, that does not mean we cannot learn about topics through our study of books. God’s Word is vast and full.
Ok, those are my 3 tools needed to start.
Do you have those? Are you ready to go?
Let’s learn a few steps for digging in deeper to God’s Word in the next post.
(Yes, I get a tiny commission from Amazon if you purchase from my links. But I’d recommend them no matter what. But not all links are Amazon links.)