It happened again. Someone asked for a bible study recommendation, and I was scrambling to recall the name of any number of great books I’ve read. Beth Moore, Lisa TerKeurst, Henry Blackaby, Max Lucado, Kay Arthur, John MacArthur….all great writers and lovers of God….all from whom I’ve learned.
But, sometimes I don’t want to recommend a book.
Sometimes I want to recommend THE book.
The Bible is what all bible studies are based upon (hence the name. read: sarcasm), yet we often rely more on books written about the Bible than on the Bible itself. I’ll be the first to agree that all of us benefit from someone explaining the deeper truths of Scripture, helping us apply those truths to our attitudes and decisions, and providing us with action steps. Yet, if we don’t learn for ourselves how to read our Bibles, we will stunt our own spiritual growth, not to mention miss out on special personal moments with our Heavenly Father.
So, how do we do it? Here are 4 easy steps:
- Make a Plan: Make a plan for what you will read. Choose a particular book of the Bible. Or select a topic that interests you using an online search engine to discover bible verses about your topic (or go old-school with an actual concordance).
- Get Context: Who wrote the book? Why was it written? When was it written? Who was the audience? What was the environment/setting? A Life Application Study Bible not only provides this kind of info for each book of the bible, it also provides footnotes explaining the verses.
- Highlight Key Verses: As you read, take notes. Highlight important passages. Underline verses that speak to you personally.
- Summarize: After you’ve finished reading, write a few summary statements to explain what you’ve noticed in the book/passages. What is the bottom line? What does God want you to know? What can you learn about God’s ways or purposes?
Here is a quick peek at my own Bible notes after reading the book of Hosea (yes, I write ALL in my Bible):
There you have it. An easy, 4-step process to dissecting Scriptures for yourself. To be sure, it takes more effort than sleepily reading with one eye still closed after the alarm sounds each morning. And it takes more effort than grabbing a book of the Christian bookstore shelf. Yet, if we choose to make the effort, our spiritual growth will soar! God will be faithful to use His Word to make us wise, deepen our love, and prevent us from stumbling.
Who doesn’t want that? Who doesn’t need that?
Maybe today you need a fresh encounter with God. He’s waiting for you…..right there in black and white.