by Cliff Pace, Senior Pastor
Feeding your children can be messy. The transition to teaching them to feed themselves is even messier! You want so badly to help them get the food in their mouths, but inevitably more ends up on the floor. (And just because the food makes it to their mouths, there is no guarantee it will stay there!)
But the choice is clear: either your children learn to feed themselves, or you have to spoon feed them for the rest of their lives.
I know that is a silly illustration, but I believe so many Christians live this way. Many "eat" only once or twice a week, and for whatever reason, they wait for someone else to feed them. Some of the reasons people give me for not studying their Bible are:
- I don’t have time.
- I don’t know how.
- It's confusing.
- I don’t know where to start.
What I would like to do is give some simple pointers for getting started studying the Bible for yourself. Others have different methods that work well for them, so once you begin you may want to try other options. Here are six recommendations:
1.) Make time.
The simple truth is we are all busy, but you will make time for what is important to you. So, if we're being honest, most people who don't study the Bible on their own simply don't believe it's important enough.
God’s Word is spiritual nourishment for your soul. If you don’t eat in a healthy way or at regular times, before long those bad habits will become evident to everyone! The same is true in reading and studying Scripture. It will become evident in your actions. Jesus himself said that “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4)
2.) Find a place.
My father-in-law says it this way: “Clean off a spot where you can meet God.” Designate a place, a desk, a closet, a chair--somewhere you can get serious with your Creator and your Heavenly Father.
3.) Find a Bible.
Don’t begin with a Bible study written by someone else. They are good, they have their place, and you should work through them, but that’s not where you should begin. Find a Bible that is right for you. You have several good options. I personally (and not necessarily in this order) recommend the NKJV, NASB, HCSB, ESV. You can Google those abbreviations and read about each one, or visit a local Christian bookstore like LIfeway.
The point is, find a Bible that is on your reading level and begin to read it. Start with a New Testament book like Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Romans, Philippians, or James, or you can begin in the Old Testament with Genesis and work through Scripture book by book.
4.) Get a Strong's Concordance.
This is a book where you can look up the meaning Biblical words. Years ago, James Strong numbered every word in the Bible, and every number corresponds with a definition. This is an extremely helpful resource for going deeper. You can find them in print and online (click for link).
5.) Don’t be afraid of commentaries or Bible studies.
As I said before, these resources have their place, so use them (just don't rely completely on them). If you would like to know the names of some that are useful, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Above all, pray and ask God to show you what He means by what He says in Scripture. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Truth and ask Him to help you apply it to your life.
Is there a truth to learn? Is there a command to obey? Is there a promise to hold onto? Ask yourself, “What does this say about God’s character and how should I respond to what I now know?”
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6). Are you hungry? Then sit down for a meal, feed yourself, and get ready to hear from your Heavenly Father.