By Jason Berl
RESOURCES FOR BIBLE READING AND STUDY
For the last two weeks in our sermon series The Word & Prayer, we have been considering what the Bible is and what it does. I wanted to recommend a few resources to help encourage and equip you in your own Bible reading and study.
COMPREHENSION | INTERPRETATION | APPLICATION
One of my favorite methods of studying the Bible is to pick a section of scripture, which may be a few verses, a paragraph, or a few paragraphs, and focus on comprehension, interpretation, and application. I strongly recommend going through a book of the bible a few verses or paragraphs at the time. Check out the following 3-5 minute videos by Jen Wilkin and The Village Church that help explain this method.
So, next time you sit down to read and study, consider grabbing a journal. Read your text (a few verses or a chapter) a few times. Write "COMPREHENSION", and then seek to summarize the facts of what you read. Then write "INTERPRETATION." Write out one or a few timeless principles based on the comprehension, what you know about the author, and what you know about the original audience. Finally, write out "APPLICATION," and consider how this text ought to change you. If you do not finish in one sitting, that is okay. Take your time and meditate on God's word. It may be helpful and worshipful to write out a prayer after studying. I generally praise God for what I learned about Him, confess sin that may have been revealed to me, and ask God for wisdom, desire, and strength to walk out the application. This is not the only way to study and pray, but I want to share a way so that you can get started and personalize it over time.
Jen Wilkin wrote a great book to help teach people how to study the BIble. It is geared towards women, but helpful for anyone.
RECOMMENDED BOOK TO GET THE BIG PICTURE
Max Anders wrote a book that has helped me so much in Bible reading and Bible comprehension. This books helps you to understand the story of the Bible as a whole, which helps you to study specific parts of the Bible with context in mind. We have several copies of this book available on the Next Steps Table, or you can order it on Amazon by clicking on the picture below.
BIBLE READING PLANS
Sometimes you may want to study a few verses at a time to really meditate on the text, but other times you may prefer to read larger chunks of the Bible to see the whole story and move through the entire Bible in a year or so. Bible reading plans are great for that, and there are several options. You can find plans on your smartphone with the YouVersion app. If you are a paper and pencil type of person, check out the following plan:
The BIble was originally written in Classical Hebrew, Biblical Aramaic, and Koine Greek. Praise the Lord, it has been translated into English. At Sojourn, we use the ESV (English Standard Version) for preaching. There are several trustworthy and good translations. Some translations are looser translations. The most common example is the NIV. These are normally easy to read, but not as literal as other translations. Other translations are word for word or very literal, but tend to be more difficult to read. An example of this is the NASB. The ESV has sought to be more readable than some of the literal translations and more literal than some of the easy to read translations. If you have a trustworthy translation of the Bible that you love, great! I am surely not seeking to bash any translation here. If you do not have a favorite translation, I recommend picking up the ESV. A great Bible to purchase is the ESV Study Bible.
There are so many resources that could be recommended here. There are other books, podcasts, teachings, reading plans, and study bibles that are so helpful. Hopefully this will get you started. May you find life, wisdom, and joy as you read, study, meditate on, and memorize God's Word.
Finally, remember the gospel. We do not read or study the Bible to earn God's favor. He is not mad at you when you miss a day (or two, three, etc.). He is not impressed when you dont miss a day. He fully loves you and approves of you because you are united to Christ by faith. Legalism would have us feel very proud if we are consistent in Bible reading and prayer, and legalism would have us despair if we are not performing well in these areas. The gospel says there is now no condemnation in Christ. The gospel invites us to have our soul revived, be built up in wisdom, and have our hearts given joy (Psalm 19) as we feast on God's Word.