9 Ways to Study the Bible

Today we have a guest post by one of the GMG Team Members!  This is Mandy.

Mandy Kelly profile pic

Mandy is passionate about two things: The Word of God and the Souls of Men (and Ladies!).

She is married to her best friend, and gets the privilege to love on their three blessings (who lost their biological momma leaving her husband widowed). Her story of infertility, and now adoption (her husbands three- and a fourth on the way!) is also a passion that is seen in almost all she does.

She loves that the Lord has let her life be an example of delighting in Him and watching Him mold her life to make her desires match His. She spent 11 years in an early childhood classroom, and 4 years in an “in house” seminary program at her home church. She loves to bring God glory through her roles as Christ-follower, Wife and Mother and Writer (in that order!)

She enjoys women’s ministry, cooking, crafting, and traveling the world. Her greatest desires are to have her marriage bring God glory, see her children walk in truth, to lead others to the feet of Jesus, and to lead women into deeper and intimate relationship with their Savior through study of the Word of God. She desires to Worship God with her life.

Mandy blogs personally at Women of Worship.

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9 Ways to Study the Bible

“God’s truth is the most important thing in the world.” John MacArthur

As Christians, one of the most important things that we can do is to study the Word of God.

God’s Word is to be a light to our path.(Psalm 119:105) It teaches us about God’s heart and allows us to know the mind of Christ.(Psalm 119:105, Psalm 119, Philippians 2:5) Through the study of God’s Word, we can learn how to apply God’s Word to our lives, allowing it to be the map we use to guide our lives, and allowing Christ to be the TRUE CORNERSTONE of all areas (Ephesians 2:20 KJV).

Here’s a few tips on how to study the Bible:

1. Get a Bible that you can write in.

I am not talking about an expensive wide margin with extra pages (although I have one and I LOVE it!), but just a Bible that you feel comfortable writing in or highlighting. I would also suggest getting a box of colored pencils, two notebooks or some loose-leaf paper (and maybe some dividers if you like to be super organized!)

2. Pray!  Just like in any other thing that you do in life, you should start your Bible Study with prayer!

The most common thing that I hear is “I just don’t understand the Bible!” You should start each study session with prayer. I believe that God loves His Word, and He has given us many promises in His Word. I pray asking God to teach me from His Word. Some of my personal favorites are Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes, that I might behold wonderful things out of your law.” and Psalm 119:130 “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” 2 Timothy 3:16 also tells us that all Scripture is given by God and is PROFITABLE for Doctrine, Reproof, Correction and Instruction in Righteousness. When I pray, I ask God to show me these things in the passage that I am about to read.

3. Read the passage. Read it again.

You will gain insight through reading it several times. I like to read it quietly, then out loud, then quietly again.

4. Write the Scripture.

I love how in GMG we are asked to WRITE IT OUT. In your SOAP notes, you will only write out a smaller portion of our text, but I did want to share that writing out Scripture is KEY to studying and learning. I like to skip lines when I write so I have room to write or draw around the key words, people, places, and themes. It also gives me room to write definitions for words or names. (This is where my colored pencils or highlighters come in.)

5. Pull the passage apart, looking for any names, repeated words, phrases, ideas, and places. (Each one gets its own color.)

I will look up the meaning of a name, word etc in a Concordance. I will look for the first time a word is mentioned in Scripture to get a better understanding of its meaning. I will write the meaning and other notes beside the word.

6. Answer key questions when studying the Bible:

Who is the passage written to (Jew, Disciple, the Church/Christians, non-Christians)?
Who wrote it?
When was it written-OT/NT? Before or after Christ’s ascension into Heaven?
Where was it written? (to see if there were any customs or laws that would be common)
Why was it written (Doctrine, Reproof, Correction, Instruction)?
How does this passage apply to my life as a follower of Christ? How does my life need to change because of this passage?

7. Use resources like Bible commentaries by men like John Piper, John MacArthur…available online for you to read or listen to.

8. Put the Word into practice in your daily life.

Jesus said in Luke 11:28, “But even more blessed are all who hear the Word of God and put it into practice.”

9. HAVE FUN!

These questions can help you as you dive into God’s Word each day. They go beautifully with the SOAP reading plan – you can use them as you respond to your Observation and Application section.

{Click here to download of a printable bookmark you can keep in your Bible as a guide!}

God’s Word is alive.

It is powerful.

It changes lives.

Every time I read a passage, God reveals more to me about WHO He is.

It is a personal love letter written from the lover of my soul – and it is the Great Physicians surgical knife, helping me cut out the cancer of sin in my life. It is a light to our path – leading us daily closer to Christ.

Worshiping With My Life,

Mandy

Women-Of-Worship.com

 

** Chime IN: Do you have a favorite way to study scripture? Or a favorite Bible study tool?  Share it with us in the comment section!

 

Did you miss any of the posts in this series? Here are the links:

Blogging Through the Bible - this new series begins August 31st!

How to Start a Good Morning Girls Group - the forum closes September 7th and will not re-open until 2015!

Blogging Through the Bible Printable Reading Plans & eWorkbooks  - everything is free here – no enrollment, sign-ups or subscribing  required!

Comments

  1. I love all of these ideas, Mandy, especially #6 because as I have been praying this week about our upcoming journey through the Word of God the “Who, What, Where, When, Why questions came to my mind! I love that you have also included with those a “How?” which nicely aligns with the application (A) of our S.O.A.P. method!

    I went to our local Dollar General store and purchased a 3-inch PURPLE (because that’s my favorite color!) three-ring binder to hold my eWorkbook from Courtney. I’ve got my colored pencils, dividers so I can section each book of the Bible, and loose leaf paper. I think I’ll purchase a low-cost Bible specifically for this Reading Through the Bible journey and call it my Good Morning Girls Bible! Can you tell I’m excited?!?!

    Thanks for this great post! :)

    Walking in His Grace,
    Laurie

    • Oh Laurie! I love to see your excitement! I love it! I went and found a grey notebook today so it would match all my GMG stuff!!!

      Excitement is contagious! :) I love it!

      Worshiping With My Life,
      Mandy

  2. This is a beautiful article Mandy! I am so glad you are on the GMG team, it’s nice to “meet” you. :) These are wonderful tips. I can’t wait to apply these to my Bible study time. I can’t wait to “get to know you better” in future posts. Thanks for sharing!

    Ashley

    • Oh thank you Ashley! I am so glad I am a part of this team. I am not sure if I will post again here at WLW – (One can never know!) however, I do blog faithfully over at Women of Worship- and I would love for you to come and visit me there! I will be blogging through the Bible there as well!

      Worshiping With My Life,
      Mandy

  3. Love it!

  4. Great post Mandy! I love #6, too. Asking those questions opens the Word of God up to new dimensions.

  5. This is a super post – simple, well-written and very helpful!! Thank you for sharing.
    I love the John MacArthur quote at the beginning :)

  6. Thanks for the great ideas Mandy! I just got a new notebook (from Staples, it even has pocket inside) that I will be using toe keep my notes during Blogging through the Bible. I printed out everything that you have shared so far and put it in my pocket. I’m looking forward to really getting in to the Word and not just doing topical studies. I attend Liberty University online but I am taking the fall semester off, so it will be great to use this as a way to stay in the Word.
    Blessings and Welcome to the family, Mandy!
    Emily

  7. I love this blog post and am excited about this study plan. Thank you for the bookmarked. It is going to be so helpful! God Bless

  8. Samantha Falston says:

    Hi Mandy, love your enthusiasm, thanks for telling us your story.

  9. I love this post so I linked it to my fb group page! I am so glad to meet you and I look forward to your future posts as well!!!

    • Andrea, Not sure if I will be posting here again – but I would love for you to join me over at Women of Worship. We follow a lot of Courtney’s series – and do some great ones of our own! :) Although I will be around helping out in the GMG community! Thanks for sharing the post! Blessings, Mandy

  10. Ilona De Rijck aka Abby from Belgium says:

    Dear Mandy,

    thank you for sharing your story, ideas, tips …. As I already mentioned somewhere on the wide web: I haven’t soaped yet . Although I have been subscribed to GMG for years. I am going to do it together with the lovely ladies from the International Group. I am soooooo excited. I am finally in a group (lol) ;)

    Tip 4 and 9 are my favorites!

    As always: many blessings from Abby from Belgium aka Ilona x

    • Oh Ilona! I love this. How I always longed to reach women across the world- thank you for your encouragement today!!! I am glad these tips will help you as you dive deep into God’s Word! Blessings!

  11. it’s great to have options when studying the bible – this is good – i’m going to retweet it! thanks for sharing.

  12. I know that some would criticize, but I do all of my scripture reading either on my laptop or Kindle. I have a free program called e-Sword. I can get different versions and commentaries. There is room for lots of notes! I can hi-light in lots of colors. There are helps for Bible reading, scripture memory, prayer requests and more. Because of our lifestyle I can’t have lots of physical books with me all the time, so having it all on my laptop makes it all possible!

    You bring up such a great simple truth in your words: we so often fail to ask God to show us what He wants us / needs for us to learn from the scriptures before us. I am so guilty of this. I have also found myself writing out a prayer at the end of my SOAP notes – but I often find that I am writing the “right words” but not really praying that prayer from my heart and allowing God to change me.

    Thanks, ladies! I am looking forward to reading through the bible with you all!

    • Denise, I’m so glad you mentioned e-Sword! Years ago a Pastor told me about it and i have since gotten out of the habit of using it. Thanks so much for the reminder! :)

    • I have used Bible software (including Esword!) – use what you love! The purpose is DIGGING IN!!! If you check on my blog today- there is a video- and I mention two great resources (computer based) that I LOVE!

  13. I enjoy participating in Bible Studies, sometimes more than one at a time. Depending on my life at the moment, I can learn and share something new each time I read God’s word. He sends just the right message at the right time. God is so good. And, yes, I do write in my Bible. I underline and write notes.
    Thank you for your thoughts today. God Bless You.

  14. Hi Mandy,
    It is not my intention to be contrary, but just for the sake of clarification for me on a couple of the methods used, such as number 5: you mentioned looking up the first time a word or phrase is used in a Concordance for better understanding, but also why not use the references relevant to it as within a reference study bible; and for number 6: in regard to the 1st ‘who’ could you elaborate on that more– so let’s say a word or phrase is directed to a Jew/Disciple would you then discount that for yourself if it were relevant to the church as a whole?
    Thank you,
    Rosalyn

    • Rosalyn -Great questions! 1st of all – the references in your Bible are a great place to start. I believe the Bible perfectly defines itself. So, when you look up the first time a word is mentioned, you often get God’s definition! As far as number 6- the answer is sometimes. There are things – and promises- written in the Bible that are for the Jews. There is often a devotional application for us- but we do need to be careful. The land of Israel was promised to the Jews- not to me. That is one example of a passage I would take a devotional application of the scripture. We are all Disciples of Christ- so if it were to a Disciple, I would understand that it was for me as well. I hope this helps! Feel free to follow to my blog- I have a way to contact me there through Facebook if you would like to discuss it more. :) Mandy

    • Here is another way to look at it- Everything is written FOR me – but not everything is written TO me! Totally different things! Blessings! Mandy

  15. Good stuff, Mandy. Thank you for your insight.

  16. Cynthia Q says:

    This is so great! Thank you for sharing. The “who” is something I’ve been learning about. It really is important. Again, thank you for sharing.

  17. Love these ideas!

    I get bored studying the same way every time so I like to mix it up

    1) – Love Courtney’s/GMGs studies!

    2) – I also love Elizabeth George’s studies…she takes the Word and customizes it to women and how to live out as a woman

    3) – I love to color code my Bible (I use Crayola Twistables). Pink is for anything regarding a woman (marriage, kids, homemaking, etc), Green is for blessings and money related scriptures, Orange is for mind and mouth, and so on.

    4) Speaking of color coding….a year or so ago, I was having a really hard time emotionally. God was teaching me to go to Him (instead of the phone) for when I needed comfort. But every time I opened the Bible, I would stumble across a scripture that was totally not helpful. I got mad enough that I threw my Bible across the room and yelled at God. After I calmed down He gave me a project. I went through the entire book of Psalms and highlighted in a special color (I use purple) anything that brought comfort. Which then led me to highlight all comforting scripture with purple. That way, when I’m upset, I just have to skim until I find purple. Makes it much easier and I now go to Him (most of the time anyways) when I’m upset.

    5) I love writing in my Bible what others say about a particular scripture. If one of the books I’m reading, talks about a verse in James, then I go to that scripture and write what they said about it. That way I have a permanent reminder of it and don’t need to find it in that book (that also means my Bible is filled with tons of notes that help me)

    6) Recently God has me doing another project in Psalms. I have a book, that I highly recommend!, called “His Princess, Love Letters from Your King,” by Sheri Rose Shepherd. It is exactly that. The author has taken verses from the Bible and turned them into a sweet love letter from God. The way she words things hit right in a woman’s heart. Now I am slowly writing out all those letters on the open spaces in Psalms. So when I’m down or need encouraging, the Psalms is overflowing with it.

    7) I also like to read the Word and pray as I’m reading the scriptures…basically turning that scripture into a prayer (right now a lot of the prayers in Psalms talk about nations and God protecting His people..therefore I use that to pray for those in Iraq and Israel.

    That’s all I can think about now. I can’t wait to start the chapter a day study. I can always count on you Courtney to make Bible reading more fun and engaging!

  18. Julia Davids says:

    Thank you for spelling it out this simple way. It sure makes bible study so inviting to dig deep into.
    I will be visiting your blog from time to time. I really love the way you respond to every comment individually, it gives one a sense of belonging and it shows that someone is really listening to you.

  19. Summer Maryanski says:

    Thanks for sharing these great tips, Mandy!!

  20. This is so helpful. I have never had a set method for the way I study. Many times what process I use depends on the purpose. If I am reading a passage to go with a devo, or some article etc that isn’t an in-depth piece, I likely won’t do any specific process. If I am reading passages for a specific study or workbook etc, then I make notes as things come to me. Sadly, there are places in my Bible (a MacArthur NKJV Study Bible) that I can barely read some of the study notes because of my own notes! One day, back in 2010 or 2011 when I was in the nursing home for rehab from a mix of multiple systemic infections, other problems and the consequences of my multiple health problems that have been part of my life for nearly 30 yrs. I’d spent 11 months in the hosp with more of that time rather than less being 100% reliant on the staff. Medications had destroyed my immune system, I had sepsis, memory problems stemming from the sepsis (months are completely black to me as if I were asleep), MRSA, shingles, VRE, etc. Being off meds for my health problems saved my life but meant that I became unable to move my hands, legs etc on my own. I had to be fed, bathed etc. It was definitely a humbling experience. And rough to be away from my hubby and elementary age son. But, despite a negative prognosis from docs, after going to a nursing home for rehab (not where I imagined I’d be at age 32) I ended up doing things that I’d been told I’d not do, nothing big, just walk and live at home. ;-) But during the 2 yrs at the nursing home, I was first visited by a group leader for a ministry group that visited residents, especially those unable to leave their rooms. As my health progressed and I gained strength, I was asked to work with the group and pick a devo to read each resident or write one. Just something to share. Then I ended up helping with a Bible study as well which led to me doing a weekly devo on the Alzheimer’s/dementia unit. It sounds odd to say it but it was an amazing time for me. The first time I was visited by the group leader, she asked if she could give me a Bible. I could not hold in laughter which is an odd reaction. But I had just told my Mom I wish I knew where my Bible was. During my hosp stay I was unable to hold my Bible and didn’t want anything to happen to it so I didn’t have hubby bring it to me. Then after it became clear that where we lived was not someplace I could live, he packed everything and moved. But since much of our stuff was in storage he had no idea where he’d packed my Bible. So, since I’d just mentioned that to Mom, and there was now someone handing me a Bible, it struck me as funny. But month’s later as I was looking for a paper I’d wanted to share before I read a devotion, she picked up my Bible and flipped through the pages. Then she showed the ladies we were visiting how much I’d made notes in and and told us the story of how that Bible came into my hands. She’d gotten it for a different resident who had taken it and flipped through a few pages and was rather grumpy in handing back saying it was not something she could see to read. So my friend had been a bit hurt and was wondering why she’d felt so drawn to buy that Bible only to have it tossed back at her basically. Then she walked by my room. I had seen her go past actually. I was used to seeing shocked looks on faces at seeing someone my age in a nursing home. But she turned back and asked if she could come in. As we spoke it became clear that she’d been prompted to buy that Bible but not for the reason she’d thought. It was a story that touched me. But, as I said, I have notes everywhere….any blank spot in my Bible is likely to not be blank long. I have note books, scrap paper, and notes on multiple Bible apps or websites. So, I’ve been pondering the task of trying to organize it all and see if a system develops. Which led to looking for different ways people find useful for study. Great tips!

I love hearing what is on your heart.

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