I’ve had a checkered past with the bible. Sometimes, I’ve had amazing devotional times where it seemed like I had it all figured out. Other times, I didn’t even know where my bible was. Once, I’ve found it after three months had gone by, covered in a thick layer of dust. At this point, I usually feel a mix of emotions, including shame. Maybe you can relate to me. But we don’t have to stay there! Recently I’ve embarked on a new journey with the Bible. I’ve started to intentionally study the Bible. I’m about a year in and have found some tips I’d like to share with you that will hopefully be as helpful to you as they are to me.
Tip #1: Breath
A lot of times we get scared or overwhelmed by the thought of studying our bible so much so that we don’t even start. Whether the task seems too big for you, too intellectually challenging, or you just don’t know where to begin, here’s a good first step. Breath. Breath and know you can study the Bible. If the bible is God’s revelation of Himself to us, He wouldn’t have made it too hard to understand. If you slow down and come to the text with a positive attitude, willing to learn, not beating yourself up, you’ll see that even in the bible itself there are examples of people doing it!
If the bible is God’s revelation of Himself to us, He wouldn’t have made it too hard to understand.
In Acts 17, it tells the story of these Jews who lived in this town called “Berea”. When Paul came to teach them, the bible says they eagerly searched their scriptures to see if what Paul was saying was true. They understood God’s word, and it ultimately had an impact on their community. I challenge you to look to the Jews of Berea as examples that you can do this. Instead of approaching the Bible with timidity or fear, approach it with eagerness and excitement. Let’s train ourselves to replace these lies we’ve believed with the truth that we can understand and look to God’s word.
Instead of approaching the Bible with timidity or fear, approach it with eagerness and excitement.
Tip #2: The Choice Is Up To You
Don’t let the vastness of the bible scare you, jump right in! If you don’t know where to start, choose a book in the bible you like, or one you know nothing about. Ask yourself, “are there any characters in the bible that interest me?” If there are, you can go through their story, influence, choices, relationship with God, outcome, and what you can learn from them. There are also themes and words throughout the whole bible you can look into, like: holiness, God’s presence, sin, prayer, doubt, courage, geography, history, and war. Choose something that interests you, or something you want to learn more about, then go from there.
Tip #3: Ask Good Questions
Once you choose a book, topic, or theme to study, ask good questions. What I mean by a good question is a question that’s going to give you understanding or bring you further along in whatever your looking into. Once you start to read, the questions will almost ask themselves. This is essential for studying books. You probably do this already as you read. Questions like:
- Who wrote this?
- Who was it written to?
- What were they like?
- What were they going through?
We can also ask questions about history an literature. Asking historical questions will lead us to learning what customs and people were like. We can also ask questions about the style and form of writing. Think of this like method acting for your brain. It’s like we’re trying to “get into character”. We’re reconstructing environments and people in their situations to better understand what we’re reading. Keeping the context of what you’re studying in mind will be key in understanding what is being said and what it means for you.
Tip #4: Have Fun!
Have fun with it! Maximize creativity, personalize your notes, add color, use a journal, draw things out. Look into themes or characters that interest you. You have the freedom to do this however you’d like, so enjoy it. One time I read through the gospel of Matthew looking to see if Jesus ever said a joke. In Matthew 11, Jesus is asking a crowd why did they go to the Jordan river. Everyone knows it was to see John the Baptist, but he uses exaggerated rhetorical questions to make the point, like comparing John to a guy that wears fancy clothes, but he actually wore rugged clothes and ate bugs. I actually started laughing when I read that and it still sticks with me this day. I encourage you to make memories with God in his word like this too.
I hope these tips help you in your own journey of studying the Bible. My encouragement to you is to keep on trucking. Don’t quite when it gets hard, but learn to love studying the Bible. And have fun with it!
Collin is someone who adds joy to our community. He isn’t afraid to make jokes, even if no one ends up understanding them, or look goofy for the sake of relationship. He is down to earth and challenges us all to walk in truth.
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