by Robin Parton
Manitou Springs, CO
Let’s start with a very familiar verse in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” In this verse the word “study” means “to hasten to do a thing, to exert oneself, endeavor, give diligence.” Now back in Acts 17: 10&11 we see a wonderful example of a group of believers who gave diligence to God’s Word: “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” The word “search” here means to “examine, investigate, and inquire.”
I want to give you several ideas of how you can “exert yourself, be diligent, examine, investigate, and inquire” about the things of God in God’s Word. We are going to begin with Bible study can be as easy as looking up the number meanings and letter cross references in the center or side column of your Bible. Your first example is taken from my old Cambridge Bible, so it may not look exactly like the Bible you are using, but I believe it will be a benefit to you. If you look at Colossians 3:2, the Bible says, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Just in front of the word “affection” is the little number 1. Then over in the center column I have circled the number 1 and its meaning “mind.” The publishers of this Bible have already done a little bit of Bible study for you by providing this meaning. Do you see how this little help gives some further understanding of this verse? Now look down at 3:8 “But now ye also put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth:” Do you see the little “t” just before the word “put?” Then look over into the center column where I have circled the ”t” and an additional Bible reference. To the far left I have written that reference for you. “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” By taking the time look up this additional reference it gives us further understanding of what we were reading in Colossians 3, particularly the need to change our thinking about these things that we are to put off prior to adding the things God tells us to put on. Now your Bible may be set up differently, but I would encourage you to learn how to use the helps that come with your Bible.
Bible study can be as easy as reading your Bible through chronologically. If you are a person who likes a lot of order in your life, you will really love reading your Bible chronologically. It won’t bother you so much that you will come to scriptures that are repeating the same stories, because it will be all neatly laid out on a chronological time line. So your next example is a copy of a chronological Bible reading schedule.
Bible study can be as easy as paying attention to the various kings who ruled each kingdom. Again if you are more of an orderly person you will really enjoy the next example I have given you on the kings. Before I used this little help, I was so confused especially when some of the kings in the northern kingdom had the same names as those in the southern kingdom or even when they just sounded similar. I literally referred to this example with each new introduction of another king, and I hope you too will find it helpful.
Bible study can be as easy as taking the time to look things up on a Bible map in the back of your Bible or a Bible atlas. Most of our Bibles do come with a map or a few maps, so I would encourage you to learn to refer to them for further understanding of what you are reading. Just look in the back of your Bibles and see if you have a map of the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. Do you see the river that is connecting them? The Jordon River runs through the Rift Valley, which runs along the eastern side of the state of Israel and runs all the way down to Lake Victoria in Africa. I was surprised to learn that the name Jordon River comes from a Hebrew word which means to descend, to go down, because it descends from Mt. Hermon which is 9000 feet above sea level to the Dead Sea which is almost 1400 feet below sea level, which makes it one of the faster flowing rivers for its size that exist. Now today the state of Israel has dammed it up for a water supply, but in Bible times it sure helps paint a picture of what those priests were stepping into as they trusted God to part the river.
Bible study can be as easy as purchasing an actual Bible study book where you will be guided as to what scriptures to read and then asked a series of questions to help you gain further insight of the various passages. My husband’s cousin Betty Henderson has written several Bible study books and she has sent a few of them to me. I then passed them on to others, because the whole fill in the blank idea did not appeal to me. But I was really interested in Debi Pryde’s Glimpses of God, so I thought I would go ahead and try it again. Would you believe that I couldn’t wait to get up each morning and work on the next section. So I would encourage those of you who are thinking, “I don’t want anything that reminds me of school” to just try it.
Each of these ideas take reading the Bible a step further as we EXERT ourselves to gain more understanding of what we are reading. Now let’s move on to Bible study can be as interesting as noting all the things God tells us the Word of God is to us in Psalm 119. It was really hard for me to decide which page of Psalm 119 to copy for you as an example, but just look at some of the things circled: vr. 70 do we delight in God’s Word, vr. 74 is our hope in God’s Word, vr. 76 is God’s Word our comfort, vr. 78 do we meditate on God’s Word? This chapter is both convicting and challenging as we look at our relationship to the Word of God.
Bible study can be as interesting as noting all of the attributes of God in the book of Psalms and then meditating on them throughout the day. Your next example is taken from Psalms 61-63, and I learned this idea from the book What Do I Know about my God by Mardi Collier. As you see I have both circled and then written in the margin the various descriptions of what God is to me. Then I also wrote each verse on an index card and meditated on what I had learned about God throughout the day. We each come from various backgrounds, and my background is one of very little church attendance until I was old enough to drive. I am the oldest of 9. My mother had 4 of us in 5 years time while she worked full time outside the home and then suffered for several years with breast cancer until she passed away the first week of my senior year of high school. When you are a kid you don’t stop and think, “my mom works full time and she is trying to deal with 4 of us, who were born in 5 years time, 2 of which are special needs kids, so she just needs me to be the oldest and do what I’m suppose to do. You do think why doesn’t she love me like my younger siblings. The only time my mother ever said she loved me was in response to a statement I made to her when I said, “I don’t feel like you love me,” and she responded with “Well of course I love you.” Needless to say I spent my childhood and teen years trying to earn her love. I was a good kid, not a perfect kid, but a rule keeper, not a rule breaker. I just wanted her to value me and love me that way I observed her loving my younger siblings. After she died my father did come to me and tell me that he did not know why she was so hard on me, and it was helpful to know he at least noticed it. But I carried that mentality of earning love into my walk with God, and it was a glorious day when I finally understood that there is nothing I can do to make God love me anymore and there is nothing I can do to make God love me any less. If you will look at your example, it is nice if you had a parent who was a place of refuge for you, who provided a shelter for you, who was your defense, and who was your help; but whether you did or not, God is all of those and much more for you. If you struggle at all with a warped view of God, I would challenge you try this simple Bible study that was truly life changing for me.
Bible study can be as interesting as noting the attributes of God through the life of Christ in the Gospels and seeking to add these attributes to our lives to be Christlike. The character of God is seen in the life of Christ, so I challenge you as you read the Gospels to study the life of Christ. Pay attention to how He reacted to and treated those around Him and realize that He is exhibiting the very character of God.
Bible study can be as interesting as noting the various prayers in the Bible, so that we can pray Biblically. It is just my opinion, but I don’t think we can ever hear too much about Bible study, the filling of the Holy Spirit, and prayer, so when a friend of mine mentioned a study on the prayers in the Bible I knew it was something I wanted to do at some point. About a month ago I began this study and have found a great website that records not only the specific prayers in the Bible, but also any mention of prayer itself. That website is https:// www.hopefaithprayer.com/prayermew/222-prayers-of-the-bible.aspx.
Bible study can be as interesting as noting the descriptions of Love in 1 Corinthians 13, the various pieces of Armor in Ephesians 6, the things we are to put off and put on in Colossians 3 and Ephesians 4, the various fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5 and Ephesians 5, and on and on I could go.
Giving special attention to different passages, takes Bible reading to a more personal level as we diligently seek to apply the Word of God to our lives.
Now let’s go a step further and see how Bible study can be as rewarding as learning to use a concordance to look up a word or subject. Most Bibles come with a concordance in the back or you can purchase one just about anywhere i.e., Cruden’s, Young’s, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, etc. You can also get various Bible programs for your computer or smart device, many of which are free. I did not give you an example of a concordance, since most of you will have one in the back of your Bibles. Turn to the back of your Bibles and just check to see if you have one. A concordance is a great Bible study tool that will help you find other places in the Bible where a particular word is used for you to study. Since I woke up with facial paralysis I have often said that it is not good for me to spend too much time in front of the mirror. I have also said that I want to spend more time looking into the mirror of God’s Word to have the right thinking about what has happened to me. So one of the things I wanted to do was to look up the words beauty and beautiful and others along that line and do a Bible study on them. The first Bible study tool I used was a concordance to first find all of the verses using words about beauty that I was interested in studying.
Bible study can be as rewarding as learning to use a subject index, which many Bibles also contain. Your next example is from a subject index in the back of a Scofield Bible. If you were doing a Bible study on “Beauty” you may find this to be very helpful as it gives you scriptures on various subtopics of Beauty ie. beautiful women, the vanity of beauty, the danger of beauty, and some scriptures on how beauty consumes away. I don’t own a Scofield Bible, but if I did this probably would have been my second tool to use in my study on Beauty.
Bible study can be as rewarding as learning to use different Bible study tools such as Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Word, and the like. Your next example is from my Wilson’s and as you will see it is very easy to use because you simply look up the English word from the OT, and you will be given a list of scriptures (using Roman numerals). Then beside the reference containing the word you will be given a letter code that corresponds with its meaning. And your next example is from my Vine’s, which is bit more challenging, because you will need to know the Greek word for the English word you are interested in defining. However, your online Bible program may give you the Greek word as you click on the English word. I have and love my Interlinear Greek New Testament that has the Greek words written above the English words. I also find it very interesting to see the sentence structure of the Greek. After I choose all of the scriptures that I wanted to use containing the word beautiful and others like it, I then used these Bible study tools to learn the exact meanings in the various verses.
Bible study can be as rewarding as learning to use a good commentary. My counsellor recommends the King James Parallel Bible. A friend of mine compared it to the Liberty Bible Commentary and found it to be identical but less expensive. I have also done some comparison and they do seem to be identical. A commentary is really nice to check once you have looked up the meanings of various words, and sometimes you may still have some confusion after looking up the meaning of a word and a commentary can come in really handy. This was the last tool I consulted in preparing my Bible study on beauty.
And last but not least Bible study can be as rewarding as learning to use other Bible study helps such as What The Bible Is All About by Dr. Henrietta Mears, and others your pastor may recommend. Henrietta Mears book is a great little handbook giving you and overview of every book in the Bible.
When we get to the place in our Bible study where we begin to skillfully use various Bible study tools it turns ordinary Bible reading into an exciting expedition as we inquire, and examine, and investigate, and finally discover the riches found in God’s Word. Read your Bibles, but as you are reading don’t fail to stop and search out those things of interest to you. If you are on a Bible reading schedule, perhaps you want to read your Bible through in two or three years to give yourself the time needed to really discover what God has for you. My husband has often said, “It’s not how much Bible you read that makes you a good Christian; it’s how much Bible you live.” We can’t live it if we don’t really understand it. Study brings a greater understanding!