Studying the Word of God on your own can sound a bit intimidating, but it really isn’t complicated at all. It just means that you take the time to understand what you are reading, look at it from various angles, and let the Holy Spirit speak to your heart.
There is no wrong way to study the Bible. You can’t mess it up. Any effort you make to read the Bible or learn more about it is time well spent.
Although pre-written Bible studies are awesome, there is something special about letting God speak directly to you through His Word. It’s personal and profound, and there is a beautiful feeling of being directly connected to the source of the Word Himself. God always intended for you to read his Word for yourself and hide it in your heart, “Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Proverbs 7:2-3)
In the end, the goal is to apply what you read to your daily life. The Bible says in James 1:22, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. ”So, don’t just read it as if it is a history book, it’s a playbook for your life.
The more you study, the more you will realize that there is an infinite depth of revelation to every verse. It is like a valuable treasure that is buried deep down and the more you dig, the more you find.
I have compiled a list of simple yet powerful ways to study the Bible for you. Every time you read a chapter, try one out. Some are more in depth, and others only take a few minutes, so they are feasible on days when you are in a hurry. I know God will reveal treasures from His Word to you as you invest time to dig them out.
THREE W’S: Who wrote this? Why was it written? Who was it written to? Answer these questions before you read a chapter of the book of the Bible you are about study. It will bring what you are reading into the right context.
MEMORIZE: Let the Holy Spirit highlight a verse to you from the passage you just read and memorize it. This is a great way of hiding God’s Word on your heart. The more you do it the easier it gets! If you learn one verse every other week, you will know 26 verses in a year!
PARAPHRASE: Repeat the passage you just read in your own words. You’ll be surprised how much understanding you gain from repeating and explaining what you’ve just read.
CONTEXT: There are two different ways to read a Bible verse: for personal application, or to understand the original context and intent. As important as it is to read the Bible as a word directly to you and apply it to your current situation, it is equally vital to see what God was doing at the time it was written and how it relates to the big picture of God’s plan through history. The more you read the Bible, the more complete your context will get which will increase your understanding of God and His kingdom. Find out as much as you can about the portion of the Bible you are reading. Here are some questions to get you started: What was the historical and political climate at the time? Who are the main characters? Are they related to other Biblical figures in another book in the Bible? All of this information is only a Google search away!
TOPICAL: Pick a topic or the me that interests you (grace, healing, patience, marriage, etc.). Highlight all the verses you read on this theme with the same color, and you will have your own topical Bible study. If you want to dig deeper into the topic, you can do a word study using online tools (I like the blueletterbible.org) to find out the exact meaning of the original word or verses that you find.
MEDITATION: Pick a section (about1-3 verses) from what you just read. Close your eyes and think about these verses for a few minutes. Try not to get distracted and focus on each verse and what it means. Picture God speaking directly to you and think about what He wants to teach you and how it applies to your life.
APPLICATION: After reading a chapter, write down a practical way that you can apply what you just read to your life and put it into action.
PERSONALIZE IT: Read through the chapter inserting “me,” “I,” or your name.
PROMISES: The Bible is filled with the promises of God for every area of life. After you read a passage, ask yourself if there are any promises that you can apply to your life. If there are promises on a certain topic (like healing, for example) that you do not need at the moment, make note of it so that you can come back and find it when you need it.
IF’S AND THEN’S: God’s promises and blessings often place the ball in our court. Pay attention to conditional blessings by looking for if’s and then’s. For example, “if you will indeed obey my voice, and keep my covenant, then you shall be my own possession from among all peoples, for all the earth is mine.” (Exodus 19:5)
TRANSLATIONS: If a verse speaks to you, look it up in other translations (or look up the original Greek/Hebrew meaning). You will love seeing the verse take on a deeper meaning as you read various versions of it. My favorite online tool for this are biblegateway.com and biblehub.com. Some translations to check out are New Living Translation(NLT), The Message (MSG), and The Amplified Bible (AMP). If you are looking for Greek or Hebrew, you can useblueletterbible.org.
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