One of my favorite activities is prayer and studying the Bible, but this took about 13 years to develop and cultivate! I want to share with you some of the joys I have found and the secret to keeping your relationship with GOD thriving, even in the mundane.
For many I have talked to prayer and reading the Word of GOD (the Bible) is very difficult, not because they cannot understand it alone but because they fall asleep, get bored and do not always know where to begin.
If you feel this way as well, it is not because you are not as spiritual as another or something is wrong with you; it is because prayer & the study of GOD’s Word is an art.
Allow me to show you how to become an amazing Bible scholar, find topics relating to your current situation and encounter GOD in a personal way.
First, you will need a few tools, but no worries at all- many of these tools you can find for free online or at a low cost on sale in a Christian bookstore (both Lifeway Christian Bookstores or Family Christian Bookstores are great chains).
Your Bible Study toolbox should include (but is not limited to):
- A Great Study Bible. I personally enjoy the Nelson’s Study Bible in the King James or New King James Version. If you are new to this, there are many versions of the Bible. Some are even written in modern language to help us understand terminology. I will write another post on these versions so stay tuned.
- A Strong’s Concordance. I absolutely
LOVE studying the Bible using a concordance. It is a classic edition and essential to your studies in no small part because of it’s extensive list of words in the Bible. These words are provided in both the Hebrew/Aramaic (Old Testament) and the Greek (New Testament). It can be used similar to a dictionary- search a word and you will find many other instances the same original word appeared throughout the Bible. This will help you compare the ways GOD uses this word in various situations. I always encourage people to note the first occurance of a word remembering the beginning of a mention is usually related to its root. Also, please remember to use this Bible Study help in avoiding reading a Scripture out of context (more on that later).
- A Bible Dictionary– Use this as you
would an Encyclopedia. It is a reference tool to learn more about the historical context of topics, people, places and artifacts of the Bible. One can commonly find marvelous informational jewels when delving into a Bible Dictionary. Allow me to provide an example of how to utilize this tool- You are studying the Book of Esther (one of my favorite books of the Bible) and you come across the mention of a man named King Ahaseurus.
In your study you open your Bible Dictionary to “Ahasueurus” finding incredible information about his kingdom and role.
You have now been enlightened on one of the personages in your historical backdrop.
You then long to know more about his kingdom, which is provided for you using a search on the words “Persia” or “Media.”
Your search will yield information regarding Persia such as her geography, climate, history and other mentions in the Bible. This helps you understand who King Ahasuerus was on a worldwide scale, increasing your appreciation for Esther’s positioning. A Bible Dictionary can be used as a thread connecting people, locations and contemporaries throughout the Bible.
- A Bible Handbook– In my personal study, I use the Ferdmans’ Handbook to the Bible, which has proven to be a wonderful resource for a quick cultural, historical and thematic backdrop of both the Old and New Testaments. Part One is dedicated to an overview of the Bible for basic Bible students. It even includes a Bible Bookshelf, which I will write about in a later post. It also relates the Bible to other types of religious books and provides a brief timeline of various versions. Part Two explores the books of the Bible separated into sections based on the types of books (I.e. Historical, poetic, prophetic, etc).
This is very helpful in understanding dates different books were written and which writers were alive in specific time periods. You may also use this to conduct a brief study on an entire book of the Bible by searching the book name.
- The Vine’s Concise Dictionary of the Bible- This resource is especially helpful in understand the original meaning of particular words in your text. It “combines in one handy volume condensed versions of W.E. Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words and Nelson’s Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament by Nerill Unger and William White, Jr.” (Introduction to Vines). I would highly encourage you to purchase one of these as a handy tool you will reference constantly. It will help you avoid misinterpretation of Scriptures by a hasty understanding based on modern English. The English language is by far less detailed than the Greek or Hebrew. For example, for our one word “love” in English, there are various forms of the word “love” in Greek. This source will aid you in discovering the original meaning of the word and how the Hebrews would have understood it contextually.
These tools should help you begin your studies, but there are many more. In fact, there are a few free internet sources you can utilize when unable to obtain the books above or in a hurry:
- The Online Jewish Encyclopedia– Another phenomenal way to understand the Bible is to study the people of the Bible, whom are primarily Jewish. This source will aid you in researching how they view different aspects of life and Biblical truth.
- BlueLetterBible.org– This resource will aid you in studying words in the Bible when using the KJV with Strong’s feature. It is much like the Strong’s Concordance aforementioned and the vines Concise Dictionary. It fact, it’s interactive features warrants one to engage the meaning of words simultaneously to reading passages.
- BibleGateway.com– This is an online hub of the Bible in various versions. Use to find a Scripture in many different versions. It also includes articles and other valuable Bible studies.
- Biblehub.com– I use this as a constant way to quickly cross reference (see other Scriptures that are relatable to the one I am studying) and see Scriptures in varying versions at a glance.
With these sources in your quiet time, you will soon find yourself running out of time due to the wealth of information and increased depth of your studies. The Bible will begin to come to life and you will no longer fall asleep so easily, in fact, you just may wake up early to do more searching!
Grab your new Study Bible, a valued journal and start with prayer. Then get ready for fascinating discoveries within the rich content of the Scriptures.
I look forward to sharing with you next week in Part 2: How to Develop a Strong Relationship with GOD through Prayer!
If you know of any other resources pertaining to studying the Bible, and I’m sure you do because there are Many, please share with others in the Comments section of this post. I know you will have marvelous tips and I’m thrilled to light a spark in the embers of your walk with GOD.