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“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.”– 1 Timothy 4: 4-5 (NASB)
Studying the Bible can be pretty intimidating. In fact, most would say that studying the Bible is for the preachers and teachers. I used to think that too, before I became a pastor/teacher, but now I see it differently.
I have heard so many people quote their favorite scripture verse and point to their favorite character story, but those same people struggle when it comes to finding a specific book of the Bible or even discussing the full creation story.
Now, I want to make myself clear, studying the Bible isn’t an essential for salvation or anything like that, but it is essential to grasp the history of God’s people and God’s interaction with His creation leading us to salvation. Knowing the word of God helps to know the Word of God (I’m proud of that one).
Before you can study the Bible it might be good to know how to start. Here are 3 tools that could help you begin the process of studying the Bible.
1) CHOOSE A BIBLE: This might seem like a no-brainer, but there are so many different versions and we could get overwhelmed, kind of like trying to order from a fast-food menu. I am not going to say one version is better than the other, but there are certain versions that are easier for studying. These are the two I recommend for easier Bible study, but others might think differently.
· The New International Version (NIV) is an easier read and many Study Bibles are in this version already. The NIV used hundreds of scholars in the translation process. They also spent a lot of time using the best Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts.
· The New American Standard Bible (NASB) combined the translation principles of the American Standard Version (ASV) and King James Version (KJV). A large amount of language tools were used in order to establish valid accuracy.
2) TAKE IT SLOW: As I shared in my previous post (A Call to Reconcile: A Two Year Old’s Lesson In Bible Study-Part Two) there is no need to rush your study. Trying to take on too much at one time can be toilsome and a struggle. We might even get to the point of saying “I’m Done!” before we actually enjoy what we are taking in. My suggestion: Read 2-4 verses (unless context requires you to go further) for several days. Read those verses with prayer and focus. Allow God to speak to you through the verses. Read them to understand what is happening and why certain words are being used. It is a great practice and allows you to catch things that you might not have noticed before. Most Bibles are broken up into sections with headings and subtitles; maybe try reading those sections for several days to get the feel of it.
3) PRAY: Prayer is a major part of reading the Bible. When we pray we are opening ourselves up to God’s voice and teaching. We connect with God on a different level. Pray before you open the book, pray while reading, and pray after you close it. God wants to illuminate His word to us. He wants our eyes and our minds to be open. We need to be willing to allow ourselves to be open to whatever He has to reveal to us.
The Holy Scriptures are important for our growth and our wisdom. We can open up books by people who have read the Bible and hear their thoughts on it, but we need to read it for ourselves. I like to tell the kids in my youth group: “Look, I can tell you anything I want and say it’s in the Bible. It’s up to you to read it and figure out if what I am saying is legit.” I have never shared anything false from scripture, but I do know that unless you read and study for yourself, you will never know if you have heard anything false from me or anyone else.
QUESTION: What are some other tools that could assist with studying the Bible?