Over the last couple of months in our 20s & 30s Bible class we spent several weeks talking about why study and how to study the Bible. Bottom line – pick a book of the Bible and start studying. We recommended the book of James as a good starting place and I started emailing a study guide every couple of days to class members. This isn’t anything in depth but would be useful for someone trying to get the gist of what James is talking about. It also has application questions. I will be posting these study guides over the next few days for anyone who would like to take on reading and studying James.
Here are a couple of useful tips to use when studying scripture:
- Don’t assume you already know what it says. You can read the same chapter at different times in life and come away catching something entirely new. I am convinced that scripture intersects our lives at particular points in time that make it come alive in new and varied ways. There is still absolute truth found in scripture but the way we perceive it can be affected by where we find ourselves in the moment we read.
- Ask lots and lots of questions. Make sure to write these down so you can try to figure them out.
- Journal as you read. Don’t read for volume. Read for quality and transformation. Make notes of relevant points and things you want to try to remember. Journal things the text calls you to change in your life or any calls to action you find.
- Try to find at least one thing out of any given text that does one of the following: changes the way you view yourself or others, calls you to action, encourages repentance in an area of your life, humbles you, leads you to give God glory and praise.
- Let the Bible shape you and not the other way around. That has been said on this blog in the past but it is such an important point. Transformation should never go in the direction of us to text. It should always go from text to us. In other words, we don’t twist the text to avoid transformation or to remain comfortable. We have to allow the text to work on changing us instead.
- Use two translations that fit well together. Go with something on different ends of the spectrum like any of these pairs: NASB + NLT, NIV + NRSV, ESV + NRSV (these are all found at Biblegateway.com for free)