Your word, O LORD, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
you established the earth, and it endures. Psalm 119:89-90 (NIV)
Go through a short book, one verse or small passage at a time. I usually recommend 1 John as a good book to start in, but there are many short books that are excellent for getting your feet wet at personal study. Those other books include John, Titus, 2 Timothy, James, Philemon, 2 Thessalonians, Philippians.
Where to start: If this is your first time studying the Bible on your own, start with a passage of approximately 1-3 verses. Look at one of the books I listed above. You will notice that every so often, a verse is indented or a verse number is in bold type. That indicates the beginning of another "passage" or paragraph. These chunks of text are marked off to help us keep written ideas together. Usually the indentation or bold verse number begins a new idea or thought by the writer.
What Bible to use: Use one that is an understandable translation. Paraphrased Bibles are excellent for reading, but they are someone else's interpretation of the Scriptures. If you are seeking understanding for yourself, use a Bible that is translated from the original Greek & Hebrew. Some excellent modern versions (translations) are the New International Version (NIV) and the New Century Version (NCV), which are very readable. The New Living Translation is also an excellent new version. If you enjoy some of the poetry of the King James, the New American Standard Bible (NASB) is an excellent, but very readable translation. If you enjoy the sound of the King James, but find it difficult to understand, you may prefer the New King James Version (NKJV).
Whichever you choose, consider getting a "study Bible" of that version. A study Bible will have notes written about each book of the Bible, notes about most verses, and will include charts and other ways of aiding understanding of the Bible.
Now that you have decided WHAT to study, now you can sit down and DO IT! All you need is a Bible, any notebook no smaller than 5"x7", and a pen. A dictionary is very helpful as well.
For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NASB)
Below is a simple method to study the Bible for yourself. This method can be applied to a verse-by-verse study, a passage study, or an entire book.
Before you begin, pray. Ask God to teach you through His Word. Remember that the bible is God's Word to you. In order to grow in any personal relationship, you must get to know each other. Your Heavenly Father already knows you better than you know yourself; now you need to get to know Him: His character, His power, His sorrows, His heart.
Then, choose a passage. If you don't already have one in mind, may I suggest one of the following:
James 1:2 & 3 | 1 John 5:1 | Heb. 12:1 | 1 Pet. 5:6 | Acts 1:8 | John 15:4
There are three basic parts to studying the Bible for understanding (Inductive Bible study):
1. Observation 2. Interpretation 3. Application
This simple method can be applied to a verse, a passage, or a book of the Bible.
Read through the paragraphs that are before and after the verse or verses you chose.
At the top of your piece of paper, write down where the verse is found, i.e. "Acts 1:8"
On your paper, write, "Observations". Under that heading, write down everything you observe about the "who, what when, & where" in the passage. Write down even the most obvious, simple things you see. Try to write down at least 5 observations. This list could go on for pages, but limit yourself to no more than 20 observations at first. It can bring great clarity to the verse to use an English Dictionary to look up any words that you are unclear on, or that makes a significant difference to the verse, particularly verbs.
Next, on your paper, write the heading, "Interpretation". This is where you clarify the meaning of a passage and help yourself understand why the Holy Spirit included this portion in Scripture. This answers the question, “What does it mean?” One aspect of interpretation is correlation: the process of relating the passage to the rest of the chapter, the whole book, and other portions of Scripture. All interpretations must be consistent with the rest of the Bible. NOTE: Interpretation is one thing -- application may be more than one thing. Interpretation is based on grammatical, historical, cultural aspects by which we adhere to what the text says. Application may be to people then, or to us now as principles or truth to be applied.
Finally, on your paper, write the heading, "Application". Listen to what the Holy Spirit has been pointing out to you as you have studied the passage. You may want to re-read your notes. What applies to you personally? Do you see a theme or pattern to what you have written? There may or may not be a theme, but God does have something for you to hear from His Word. I like to use the SPECK method for easy application: Write down answers to any of these questions that apply to what you are studying: Is there a SIN for me to avoid? Is there a PROMISE from God for me to claim? Is there an EXAMPLE for me to follow? Is there a COMMANDMENT for me to obey? How can this passage increase my KNOWLEDGE about God or about Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit? Most importantly, write down a personal and specific application for you, not someone else. This can be in the form of a "note to self", or a letter to God. Be sure to use "I" or "me", not "we" or "they".
Pray, asking God to help you to apply what you have learned. He will.
You have just studied the Bible for yourself, also called an Inductive Bible Study. YEAH!!! Now, make an appointment with yourself to do it again. God's Word will never return void. He will always use it to grow you and bring glory to Himself. It matters not whether you feel Him speaking to you or not. Feelings are just that--feelings. They come and go, but He remains the same. To help remind you of the SPECK method, you may want to write it down in a blank page of your Bible, or on an index card to keep with your notebook and/or your Bible.
Is there a SIN for me to avoid?
Is there a PROMISE from God for me to claim?
Is there an EXAMPLE for me to follow?
Is there a COMMANDMENT for me to obey?
How can this passage increase my KNOWLEDGE about God or about Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit?
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