Psalm 119:9 says, “How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of your Word” (The Message).How, then, do we learn to read God’s Map? Here are some practical tips and suggestions for studying God’s Word effectively.
Read It! Read the Bible daily. Build this into your routine each morning or evening. Use a paraphrase, like The Message, and don’t worry if you don’t understand everything at first. Pray as you read, asking God for insight.
Look for a Verse Every Day. Look for a verse to adopt for the day. Ask God for a special verse to meet each day’s need. Write it down, carry it with you, and you’ll have strength for each day’s work, peace for each night’s rest, and sufficiency for each day’s challenges.
Use a Study Bible. You can order The Nelson Study Bible through Turning Point. A good reference Bible will summarize the background and contents of each book. It will have explanatory notes at the bottom of each page to help you understand difficult verses. It will have a concordance and maps in the back.
Study Book-to-Verse-to-Word. It also helps to have a good method of Bible study. One of the best is the Book-to-Verse-to-Word Method, sometimes called Inductive Bible Study. First, read through your chosen book several times for a sweep of the contents of the entire book; then read all you can about the background. A good study Bible will provide some of this information.
Then look for the outline and theme of the book. Read through each chapter, making notes, underlining verses, looking for key thoughts. When you have a pretty good idea of what each chapter says, study the individual verses, down to the various words that are used.
This way you’re studying the Bible in its context, looking at individual words in the context of the verse, verses in the context of the chapter, chapters in the context of the whole book, and the whole book in the context of its place in the New Testament. This is “rightly dividing” the Word of Truth.
Read the Bible with Pen and Pencil. Many people also like to read the Bible with pen or pencil in hand, marking it up, underlining and circling and drawing lines from verse to verse. Scribble comments in the margin, and post dates against verses that God gives you on particular days. Someone once said, “A well-marked Bible means a well-fed soul.”
You can also use a journal to diagram and analyze sentences, paraphrase verses, condense passages, list points, and record observations.
Memorize Scripture. Let me urge you to memorize Scripture and meditate on it. Memorize one Bible verse a week. Memorized Scripture is the fodder of meditation, and meditation is the key to unlocking the real riches of Scripture to our hearts.
Joshua 1:8 says: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
Join a Bible Study. One of the most exciting developments in many churches has been the proliferation of Bible study groups. Find one and sign up. The right accountability group or the right teacher can make a big difference in our appreciation of Scripture.
Get serious about daily Bible study and you’ll find that the Word of God will become a lamp unto your feet, a light unto your path, and a map for your soul. As the Bible puts it: “Do what God tells you. Walk in the paths He shows you: Follow the life-map absolutely, keep an eye out for the signposts…then you’ll get on well in whatever you do and wherever you go (1 Kings 2:3, the Message).