Have you ever jumped out of an airplane? What about bungee jumping? Have you ever caught a 100-pound fish while deep sea fishing or hit a hole in one while playing golf? Maybe you’ve run a marathon or won a top award for your hard work. Perhaps you’ve not done these but have heard someone describe a great adventure. It is never quite as exciting to hear about it as it is to experience it.
Second hand experiences lose something you can only gain through personal experience. So it is with discovering truth from personal Bible study. Once you’ve had great personal gain you’ll never settle for second hand study alone. Hearing someone preach and teach is great and necessary, but seeing it for yourself is something altogether more wonderful.
2 Timothy 2:15 says to, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” Studying God’s Word is necessary but also a great joy! The Scriptures contain the words of life! Proverbs 4:20-22 explains this: “My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.” The Scriptures bring health and life to your whole body!
Most Christians want to study their Bibles, they just don’t know how. Why do we need to study? It isn’t just for information, but transformation. Two very important reasons to study Scripture are found in 2 Timothy 3:14-17: knowing Jesus for personal Salvation and spiritual growth. If you desire these, you must study the Scriptures. I want to give you some basic “how-to’s” to get you started toward health and life in personal Bible study. That way, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:31-32).
Schedule your time to allow for personal Bible study. It’s best for me in the early morning before anyone gets up and my day gets busy. Cut out distractions like television and Internet. Get in a routine of studying the Bible at a certain time and in a certain comfortable place. Study when you are not tired and are most alert and awake. You need a good translation you can understand. I recommend the NASB, ESV, or NIV. Other good ones are NLT and the Amplified. A good paraphrase is the Message. A good study Bible has a concordance, an introduction and outline to each book of the Bible, and cross-references. One with commentary on the page is also extremely helpful. The Thompson Chain Reference, Naves Topical Bible, and NIV Life Application Study Bible are excellent.
Keep a notebook and journal what you learn. One thing about Scripture is you can read it over and over and gain new insights each time. Find out the context of what you are reading. Ask the “5 W’s and 1 H” – Who, what, when, where, why, and how. Being a good investigator is imperative to good Bible study. Lastly, pray. Ask God to cleanse you of sin and prepare you for study. Let God search your heart before you search His Word. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth. The best tip – start. I pray you gain the riches Scripture contains for your daily life.
Stephen Harrison is associate pastor of Family Church at White Hall.
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