Studying the Bible

Bible Study Plans: Where to Start Your Study of the Bible

In part one of this series, we discussed how to study the Bible. Now we’ll discuss where to start your Bible study. After all, the Bible is a big book, and deciding where to begin can be daunting. Below, I’ll go into specifics of where to begin your Bible study journey, and contact me at Atozmomm today for more advice!

WHERE TO START YOUR STUDY OF THE BIBLE

  • New Testament. Most Bible scholars recommend you start your Bible study with the New Testament if you are just beginning to study the Bible. The New Testament is easier to understand and covers the life of Jesus who is central to a Christians life. Furthermore, the New Testament has a more cohesive feel to it. Once you’re done with the New Testament, begin on the Old Testament with the Book of Genesis.
  • Begin with the Book of John. The Gospels (which are the books of the Bible that cover when Jesus was alive on Earth are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are the best place to begin studying the Bible in the New Testament, particularly with the book of John. The book of John is the easiest to read, covers who Jesus is, and prepares you for the other three Gospels.
  • Read Romans. The book of Romans, written by the Apostle Paul, will give you a great understanding of the Gospels as a whole and the entire book points to the Good News of Jesus Christ. The letters of the Bible, written mostly by Jesus’ disciples to the early Church is a great place to continue your Bible study.

OTHER GREAT PLACES TO START YOUR STUDY OF THE BIBLE

  • Psalms. The book of Psalms in the Old Testament is a book of encouragement, and a constant reminder to us that God is with us no matter our sins. The Psalms frequently offer hope and healing. A very poetic book written by various authors, this a great book to read before bed at night if you have trouble falling asleep.
  • Proverbs. Another great place to start reading and studying the Bible, Proverbs, written mostly by King Solomon who was blessed with wisdom by God, offers practical tips for living. Short and spicy, Proverbs will give you great advice when you need it the most.
  • Genesis. Some of us are very linear thinkers and there’s nothing wrong with starting at the beginning of the Bible and reading it all the way through. You will understand God more and dive into how and why Jesus came when he did.
  • Topics. One way to begin to study the Bible, especially if you are struggling with something you need help with right away is to choose a topic, and then study the parts of the Bible that relate to that topic. Most Bibles have subject indexes in the back, or a quick Google search will give you great places to start. Topics such as anger, encouragement, compassion, and joy are all great areas to start.

Reverend Billy Graham once offered up this advice when asked where to start reading the Bible, “Begin by reading the Gospel of John, for it tells us of Christ, of the ‘greatest life ever lived,’ and what He has done for us. Next read Acts, for it tells us what His first disciples did in the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Then perhaps the letters of John and the letter to the Philippians. Then you may want to read Romans as your next step in your Bible study, which sets forth the great doctrines which Paul taught.”

In the end, it truly doesn’t matter where you start your Bible study; just open up and begin. God will be wherever you land. Contact me for any questions!

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Bible Study Plans: How to Study the Bible

Most of us read the Bible. We know the stories — Lot and his wives, Abraham and Sarah and Isaac, Moses and the 10 Commandments, and Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. But knowing the details of the stories in the Bible is not the same as studying the Bible. When you study the Bible, you’re seeking to understand the message behind the story, what God is trying to teach the people in the story, and what He’s trying to teach you as you apply the lessons in your own life. Below, AtoZMomm will offer up tips on how to study the Bible.

HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE

  • Have a plan. Admittedly, the Bible is a huge book that can get quite complicated. You have to have a plan of where you want to start and/or lessons to focus on. Write down a weekly Bible reading plan, so you’ll get excited about what God is trying to teach you. The birth of Jesus is a great place to start as well as the very beginning with Creation.
  • Invest in a good study Bible. Study Bibles come with annotated notes, historical background information, maps, and chronological charts that will help you as you read the the Bible. A good Bible Dictionary and Atlas are great to have on hand as well.
  • Choose a translation. Part of the reason the Bible is difficult to understand is because it has been translated so many times: from Aramaic to Greek to Latin to English. It’s easy to see how mistakes can be made by scribes and how words can be mistranslated. Get a translation that makes sense to you. NIV (New International Version) is popular as well as The Message Bible.
  • Prepare your heart. Don’t approach Bible study as a chore. You are reading God’s very words to you. Maximize your time and enter Bible study prepared to learn. Anything else is not only a disservice to you, but also a disservice to God as well.
  • Pray. Ask God to teach you what He wants you to know and what can help you be more like Jesus and be closer to Him. Ask for wisdom to understand and an ear to hear what He has to say to you.

Studying the Bible is something you have to do if you want to grow closer to God and be more like Jesus. Setting aside as little as 10 minutes a day can have a profound impact on your life. Small moments add up to great things. If you have questions on how to study the Bible, reach out to AtoZMomm with a comment below. May God thoroughly bless you as you read and study His word.

Summer Devotional August 28th, 2017

Jeremiah 22:3:  “This is what the Lord says:  Do what is just and right.”

This can be hard to do in every day life.  Treating others fairly.  Putting aside your pride.  Paying for the tickets someone forgot to charge you for.  Standing up for someone.  Or quitting your job because of dubious practices. Keep in mind God is with you every step of every day to do what is just and right in this very Fallen world.  Remember Him and these decisions will be easy.

Summer Devotional July 4th, 2017

Happy 4th of July!!

Galatians 5:13:  “You, my brothers, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”

On this day of celebration of Independence, let’s not forget who grants us independence:  God.  With our freedoms we are to do good, not harm.  We are to remember others and remember those who sacrificed for our freedoms.  Christ gives us the ultimate freedom in him.  On this side of heaven, God grants us individual freedoms to be used for His good.  Don’t take those (or Him) for granted.

 

Get the Notes Ahead of Time!

I know I’m going to receive a bunch of contrary emails/comments on this one and accusations of “ruining BSF” as I have gotten before, but I have prayed and am prepared.

BSF (at least where I’m at) is no longer requiring you to sign out for notes/lessons ahead of time. I discovered this quite by accident when I got a lesson ahead of time as I will be gone next week.

So I got the notes for next week and read them and to be honest it makes me sad I’m going to miss next week because it has only fueled my desire for more.  There were some things in the notes I had questions on and was curious what the teaching leader was going to say.  I did more investigating on my own.  I learned some things.  It has convicted me in many areas of my life–things I’ve been working on for a while but was ho-humming around about.

This isn’t the first time I have gotten the notes ahead of time.  Three years ago, I actually posted on this same topic. If you’re curious, the original post is HERE I went back and re-read this and it seems this was echoed to me again. I feel everything has a purpose.

I feel like when I go to class after having read the notes ahead of time, I am more enlightened, more curious, more open, more engaged, more ready to receive God’s word because my mind is more open to the passage.  When I read the notes afterwards, I don’t get this feeling.  I get a feeling of finality and “we’re moving on” so who cares?

Maybe I’m wrong and you all can disagree with me for it and chastise me, but from now on I plan to get the notes ahead of time so I can read them before class discussion and lecture.  It awakens something in me I cannot describe and I feel more ready to absorb God’s word and lessons.

My confession:  for the longest time I feel like I’m just “doing homework” here and not incorporating the Word into my life.  I’ve been praying, but it seems hokey for I never can put my emotions into words and I feel God must think me a complete nincompoop.

For me, it’s all about understanding God and His Word better and whatever helps, helps.  Many of you have commented how you wish the notes were online and I do hope that will be forthcoming as well.  I think more would read the notes if we had them ahead of time instead of putting it off until you no longer remember what the passage was about.  I personally wish the lectures were available for a week for everyone as well because who can make every class, right?  Flu, holidays, family matters, sick kids, vacations, emergencies come up.  It would be great to get more of God in any medium.

Bible Study Fellowship changed the lessons and the lecture so they correspond, why not the notes?  Why wait on this change as well?  I know some of you will say because then people will read the notes before answering the questions.  This is a valid point.  BSF would like you to do the questions and then hear the lecture and then read the notes.  That’s how it originated.  But what’s wrong with switching the lecture and the notes?  That’s how a lot of school is taught, especially college.  You’re given a reading assignment.  You read it.  You return to hear a lecture on it and an opportunity to ask questions.  I learn better this way.

One solution:  maybe make the notes available online 24 hours before the day of your class.  That gives everyone plenty of time to do their lesson but still read the notes before lecture and discussion.

[Suggestion:  I realize this is a stretch, but I will throw it out there.  Our BSF leader recently mentioned it costs BSF something like $84/person/year just in materials and staff.  Sometime in the future, I imagine BSF as going paperless.  Could you imagine?  We can get the notes and the questions all online and imagine the cost savings!  That would be more money to put toward other ministry areas BSF engages in or expand BSF further to reach more people.  At least in the developed world:  US, Australia, UK, Canada, etc. where most of us own printers and computers and have internet access.  I see this as a ways away but offering this as an option would be cost effective, save trees, and more environmentally friendly!  Just a thought for the future 🙂 ].

After all, the group leaders and the teaching leaders all get the notes ahead of time at leaders’ meeting.  I can’t tell you the number of times over the years I’ve had a discussion leader say, “Read the notes because they clarify this further.”  Wouldn’t it be only fair that the rest of us be allowed access to the notes before lecture/discussion?

At some point you just have to trust people to do the right thing.  To do what is best for them.  To follow BSF how it was designed to be.  For personal responsibility is lacking in today’s world and learning about God is an individual choice just like doing your BSF questions is a choice.  God and Free Will at His/its best!  Thus, I see no harm in accessing the notes before discussion/lecture.  For those of us who learn better by reading, it’s an eye-opener for sure.  Bible study is all about growing with Jesus and each does this in his or her own way.

I would believe one qualm BSF is concerned about is this:  Well, if the notes are online, why would anyone come to class at all?  Answer:  For everything else that makes BSF work:  community, fellowship, lecture, discussion groups, prayer, worship, and a profound love of our Lord and Savior.

Please feel free to agree or disagree below for I am no expert nor am I a seasoned BSF’er, but merely one who sees an area for improvement and suggests it.  And I would ask before you post your nasty email to not personally attack me as many have done in the past, but to take my idea as it’s meant to be taken:  a suggestion to improve BSF, not dismantle the system.  Change is good as BSF is demonstrating, and I hope you die-harders out there can see that.  Change is a part of life whether we like it or not and if we don’t change, we don’t grow; and if we don’t grow, we don’t become more and more like Jesus.

In conclusion, I’d love to hear your thoughts especially if you’ve gotten the notes ahead of time for some reason or another and either liked it or didn’t like it.

There is Something Inherently Wrong with Me When…

I go to Sam’s Club the other day with the sole intent of buying a winter jacket.  I had seen a couple I liked a few months back and the zipper on my winter jacket just broke so I need a new one.  I take my two youngest with me and we spend probably 30 minutes looking and trying on.  Nothing fit.  The one I remembered is gone.

So, dejected, I prepare to leave without buying anything.  But then….

I walk down the book aisle and this book jumps out at me called “Atlas of the Bible” by Carl G Rasmussen by Zondervan.  It’s a thick book with a picture of some ruins on it and maps below the picture.  Now, as you can tell, I LOVE maps so I picked it up and glanced through it.  I opened to the pages on Hezekiah’s reign and there are timelines and maps and pictures AND an explanation with biblical quotes of passages, tying together all the parts of the Bible that discusses Hezekiah’s reign.

I hadn’t been interested in a Bible Atlas before even though our BSF leader recommended one because I don’t like just a book with maps in it.  I like the explanations and pictures–exactly like this book.

I look at the price and it’s $25 bucks.  So, I put it down but only momentarily.  I thought, “Well, I was going to spend that on a coat and now I’ll spend that on a book.”

I do this ALL THE TIME.  I’ll buy something for me, justifying the expense by giving up something else.

So, I proceed to the check-out, happy as a lark.  The winter jacket will wait until next fall and I’ll enjoy a cool book that will help me understand God’s word much better.

Good trade-off, don’t you think?