I’ve had a couple of friends ask me recently how I do my personal Bible study, so I thought I’d share my process and ask you to share yours as well. :) Let’s encourage one another!
Here are my 4 go-to tools for Bible study:
1. Where should I start?
I use the free YouVersion Bible App (YouVersion.com). There are a bazillion (I counted) study plans to choose from. They range from short and topical to the entire Bible in 30 days. There is a plan for you, I guarantee. You install the app on your phone or tablet and it will remind you to read, it can email you your daily reading, and if you get behind you can refresh the plan in order to catch yourself up without missing anything. You can also read straight from your computer. No excuses!
2. Where’s that verse?
I’m hit and miss with memorization. Usually I can tell you what the Bible says, but not where it says it. That’s where Lumina from Bible.org comes in handy. It has the best Bible search that you can find. If you want to look for a topic – like how many times the word garlic is used in the Bible (once) – you can type it in and press go. If you remember a part of a verse and you want to find it, you search a part of the verse and the matches will be sorted by relevance. For instance, if I search “wings like eagles” to try to find Isaiah 40:31 “But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without growing weary, they walk without getting tired.” The verse was #5 on the list of Scriptures by relevance (you can do the search if you want to know what #1-4 were).
The great thing is that Lumina searches all the parallel Bible versions at the same time, so if you remember the verse in King James, you can search with thee’s and thou’s to your hearts content. It will find the verse for you.
3. What in the world?
We’ve all had those moments – the times when you sit down for Bible study and read a passage and wonder what in the world is going on. My absolute favorite commentary is absolutely free and it’s available in two different places on the web! Dr. Constable, a professor from Dallas Theological Seminary, has shared his own notes for when he teaches Bible study at his church. Each time he goes through a particular Bible book, he updates his notes and they are simply amazing.
You can find them at his site and they are also in the “Constable’s Notes” tab in Lumina. One stop shopping. ;)
4. Do I just read it?
Yes, but NO! Reading is a great place to start, but you don’t want to end there. Why read when you can interact with the text?
The Bible is God’s revelation to us. As a friend tells me, the Bible is basic instructions before leaving earth.
Scripture lives and breathes. That’s why it’s important to read it daily. Each day you will get something new out of it, even if you read the same portion again. And as my pastor warned recently, reading the Bible will mess up your plans. If your plans aren’t in line with God’s, that is.
So how do you interact with the text? You ask yourself some questions. Here are the ones suggested by another of our pastors:
The first two questions help with observation of the text. Ask:
- What does this passage say about God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit?
- What does this passage say about people, life, or faith?
The next question helps with interpretation. Ask:
- Why is this passage in the Bible?
The final two questions help with application. Ask
- How does this passage relate to my life?
- How can I put this truth into practice?
If you want to see the questions put into practice, I blogged about them a while back.
If that’s too structured for you, then keep a journal and write down the verses that jump out at you. Maybe you like them or don’t understand them. Or write down what you think about the passage you just read. Don’t like writing? Draw a picture or tell someone about what you read. Do something besides passive reading. It will help the words stick.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN? HOW DO YOU STUDY THE BIBLE? WHAT DOES YOUR PERSONAL QUIET TIME LOOK LIKE?