There are many people who ask this question today. It is difficult to answer such a question in so short a space as I have in the bulletin, but I am going to try to give a few practical bits of information that I hope you will find valuable as you purpose to study the scriptures on a regular basis.
First, when you study the Bible, you should pray. Prayer sets the right tone for your Bible study. It places you in a respectful position of God’s word and invokes God’s guidance. Prayer focuses you on the task at hand. Prayer will cause you to shut out all other purposes you may have in mind. Prayer helps Bible study!
Second, reading the Bible properly is important. John pronounced a blessing upon those who read (Revelation 1:3). Ezra read from the book of the Law to all the people (Nehemiah 8:8). You can’t study without reading in one form or another, but be warned, reading is not necessarily the same thing as studying. Many people “read” the Bible without studying. To truly study the Bible, we must put on our thinking caps and meditate about what we have read. Reading out loud will help you to think about the words you are reading.
Third, when studying the Bible, ask yourself questions. Who am I reading about? What is he doing, saying, teaching? When is he doing it? Where are they at? Why is he writing this? Asking questions about the text is a good way to help yourself find the answers in the text that you are looking for. Get out a piece of paper when you study and write down questions that come to your mind. If you don’t understand something, then write down why you don’t understand it. Many times when you write these types of things, the answers become more evident.
Fourth, keep a good dictionary handy. When studying we often come across words that we don’t understand. We need to understand those words in order to study. That’s what a dictionary is for, to help us understand the meaning. Bible dictionaries are even more helpful, because they tend to define words in the context of the original culture in which they were used. Bible dictionaries also offer help in understanding weights and measures of Bible times, as well as giving information regarding proper names in the Bible. Understanding the meaning of words and names goes a long way in helping us study the Bible and learn more about God.
Fifth, try studying the Bible by topic. There are several helps and aids that you can acquire that will expedite your study this way. Most Bibles have a abridged concordance in the back. A concordance groups Bible verses based upon key words. So if you want to know more about the topic of “love,” you just look up that topic and study the scriptures in which that word is found. You can also acquire more comprehensive concordances that index every single word in the Bible. These books are great when you are trying to study the Bible by topic.
Sixth, another way to study the Bible is by cross reference. Many Bibles have cross references in the text. These are often indicated by small letters. When you see one, look up the associated scripture and try to think of how those two scriptures relate. Maybe they speak about the same person; maybe the same subject; maybe they just have the same word, but it is used in a different sense in each passage. There are also larger books that contain nothing but cross references to Bible verses. Studying cross references can give you valuable information regarding one particular passage of the Bible.
Now, what are you waiting on? Get out there and study that Bible!