Last year we asked you to share your thoughts and challenges with us in our annual Lifeway Women survey. In the coming months, our team is working together to help you overcome some of the Bible study roadblocks you shared with us.
It can be overwhelming trying to choose the right Bible study for yourself or your small group. If the study is offered at your church or in your neighborhood, you usually go with the flow. You study whatever the leader chooses! However, when you are wanting to study the Bible on your own, where do you begin?
First, Christians often use the term “Bible study” in a very general way. True Bible study is more than reading a verse a day to keep the devil away! As good as Bible reading is, Bible study usually means using a workbook or journal to help you read, observe, interpret, and apply the Scripture. Bible study is just that, study, getting into God’s Word for yourself, letting Scripture interpret Scripture, digging to find the original meaning of the text, and allowing God to illuminate the Scripture personally for you.
Second, here are some important things to consider and questions to ask yourself when selecting your Bible study:
- Pray about what God would have you study in His Word. He is going to direct you and guide you to spend time in the Bible. He wants a relationship with you and wants to reveal Himself to you.
- Don’t discard any of the Bible in your study. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Every word on every page is inspired by God and worth reading. Be open to reading any of the Bible, and all of the Bible.
- Consider these options when choosing a study for your personal spiritual growth.
• Use a daily reading plan. Some people pick a book of the Bible and start reading. Other people use Bible reading plans to help them read through the Bible in a year or designated time. A Bible reading plan can be a great place to lead you to your next Bible study. If you are reading through Matthew, you may then choose to dig deeper into the Sermon on the Mount or study Exodus and the Law to know more about Matthew’s Jewish heritage. Another example would be reading through the Psalms, and then choosing to do a Bible study on David since he wrote so many of them.
• Focus on a need in your life. Are you struggling with anxiety, fear, financial problems, your marriage, or trust? Search the Bible by topic and use a Bible concordance to help you dive deeper into the verses related to the specific topic or need. However, when doing a topical study, be sure to read the verses in context and cross-reference with what the Bible says as a whole. When you complete a study like this that is topic or need-based, you will have more wisdom and peace about the issues you are facing in life.
• Base your study on a question, specifically questions on theology. What questions do you have about God or the Christian faith? Is there a doctrine you struggle with? What questions do you have about the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16-17)? If we have questions we should go to the Word of God for answers. The more we study Scripture, the more we get to know God and His character. We also learn how to glorify Him through our obedience to His Word. Make a list of questions or concerns and choose your study from the list.
• Choose a study that will prepare or equip you for a situation, conversation, or circumstance coming up or possible in your future. Life situations and circumstances need to be faced in God-honoring ways. What decisions are looming on the horizon for you? The Bible gives guidance and truth that is relevant to situations we face today. The Bible teaches us how to handle conflict, confrontations, and decision-making.
• Base your Bible study on the Sunday sermons or pastoral teaching. We often hear things in sermons that need to be unpacked and studied further. You may hear something that resonates with you, and you want to spend extra time on the topic, theological issue, or context of the teaching. It may relate to something you are going through or address an issue that you know you could use to minister to someone else. You may want more background information or history behind the message of the sermon or teaching. You may have heard something that you’ve never heard or studied before, and you want to make sure you fully understand it for yourself.
Lastly, remember you are studying the Bible to know God. We want to gain wisdom, insight, and understanding of what is right and wrong. But even more important, we want to learn who God is, know Him in a personal relationship through Jesus Christ, and recognize His voice. God’s Word points us to Jesus. He is the One we need, and His Word gives us the truth to follow Him in obedience.
We’d love to hear from you and more about your Bible study journey. How do you choose your personal Bible study? How does Bible study impact your spiritual growth?
Michelle Hicks is the managing editor for Journey devotional magazine with Lifeway Women. Michelle served as a freelance writer, campus minister, and corporate chaplain before coming to Lifeway. She is a graduate of the University of North Texas and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Michelle has a deep hunger for God’s Word and wants others to discover the abundant life they can have with Jesus as their Lord and Savior.