In a previous article, I discussed “Mistakes in Personal Bible Study.” I recommend you check out that article too. Getting consistent is a good start, but getting understanding is the goal. Here are some tools and tips for getting the most out of your Bible reading:
- Use a good Study Bible for your reading. A good Study Bible will provide you with cross-references to other verses in the Bible, as well as helpful definitions and comments to explain words and meanings. I recommend the Ryrie Study Bible. Keep in mind that the study notes are not inspired! Even good men can be mistaken. However, I believe Ryrie was a conservative man and I have found him reliable in the main.
- Use a commentary or a Bible-study guide alongside your reading. I have been reading the Book of Galatians for a while and using a simple, layman’s commentary after I’ve read a chapter several times. (I read chapter 1 several times, maybe over three or four days, then I’ll read a section of the Bible study while taking note of the biblical text if references.) The Everyman’s Bible Commentary series is an excellent entry-level commentary set. It is conservative and does not get too bogged down with details. Derek Kidner did some excellent work in the Psalms and Proverbs which can be great just for a little reference.
- Use the Blue Letter Bible app. I love this app! I use it primarily for definitions of Bible words and checking commentaries to see what other Bible teachers have had to say about the passage. (I especially prefer Matthew Henry and Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown.) Tap on a verse of Scripture to open your study options. Tap on “Interlinear/Concordance” to get to definitions of Bible words (these are original language definitions). Tap on “Text Commentaries” to get to… well, commentaries! You’ll also notice that there is an audio Bible, Translation Comparisons, Dictionaries, etc. It’s a great little app and I’m sure I don’t use half the features it can provide. [NOTE: I do not recommend having your cellular device nearby during Bible study times. However, with notifications turned “Off” on your social media and news apps, you may be able to get by without distractions in order to focus. Just sayin’.]
- Keep a Journal. For the longest time, I tried to keep a consistent journal of devotional thoughts. However, I was inconsistent and always missing. Then, one summer I tried again and it stuck! I’ve kept journal entries everyday for nearly seven years. Journal entries help me “remember” things: writing things down helps keep it around. Plus, journal entries are a way to mull over what you’ve read as you try to capture thoughts. It’s just a tool, and maybe it would work for you. I’d say if you’re interested in doing it, don’t be discouraged if you keep lagging: keep trying.
- Use a nice, smudge-free pen. Marking your Bible (a smart practice to help catch repetition or key-words in a passage) and making notes in a journal require a good pen. I recommend the Zebra pen in blue ink. It has a fine point (0.7 mm) and I have found it fairly smudge-free. I do not recommend using a medium point pen or a gel pen as the ink will most likely be too heavy (causing bleed-through on Bible pages) and will smudge in both your Bible and journal.
What tools have you found helpful in Bible study? Leave a comment below with any suggestions.