27 Aug 2021

How to Study the Bible #11 – Two Easy Topics

Submitted by John T Reagan

So, how did your Bible-speed-read time go?  Is it pulling you deeper into the word and is the Spirit using it to speak truth to your soul?  Honestly, it probably is too soon for me to ask that question as that method needs to be used long-term for quite a while before it really becomes effective.  It’s okay to save the speed-read technique for later, but if you’ve tried it, share some of your thoughts in the comments below.  I’d like to know how it has been working for you.

It’s time to finish up this series but the list of Bible study topics I need to cover is still rather long, so we still have a few more posts to go.  Here’s a list of where we’re going (in a rather random order):  

    • How to search the Bible for a topic or to find a specific verse.
    • Bible study starts with worship!
    • Spiritual Warfare surrounds our efforts to study the Bible.
    • About translations (versions) of the English Bible.
    • A warning to avoid Ephod worship.
    • A discussion of the question, “Why do we study the Bible?”  (I’ll leave this one until last.)
    • Feeling free to mark up the text.

I think I can cover most of those topics rather quickly and, perhaps combine some of them together in a single post.  So, let’s get started…..!

Marking up your Bible

Always start with the easy stuff first, right?  So let’s talk about marking up the pages of your Bible.  It’s perfectly okay to underline sentences and phrases that speak to you in a special way.  If the margins in your Bible are wide enough, you can even write some notes there.  Remember that the Bible you hold in your hand, while it contains the scriptures, the words God has spoken to us, is still just ink on paper.  I never had any compunctions about marking up my college texts when I was still in school, and the Bible is the same way.  I have multiple Bibles (most currently packed away) that I marked up and wore out to the point that they were becoming hard to use.  Marking up your Bible serves two purposes:  First, when a phrase or sentence speaks something significant to you or has particular application in your life, underlining or highlighting it gives you ownership of what the Holy Spirit was speaking to your heart at that moment.  You are making that truth your own.  It takes it out of the global “He’s speaking to the broad audience, but not to me in particular” venue and puts it in your pocket.  Second, it helps you quickly find that phrase or sentence again when you want to ponder its meaning some more or share it with someone else.  The featured image I’m using with this post is a picture of a page of the Bible I printed out on copy paper so that I could really get messy with my note-taking.  I even draw lines across the text to connect the note with its associated phrase.  So, get wild with this! 

Bible Study Tools

Way back in the day, before we had desktop computers and smartphones, we used concordances.  A concordance, keyed to a targeted Bible translation, is a massive book that lists the phrases that surround every word used in the text.  It shows you the chapter and verse where you can find that phrase and word.  For instance, suppose I vaguely remember reading a scripture that talks about grabbing a dog by the ears.  (Not a smart thing to do!)  I kind of remember the verse, but can’t remember where in the Bible I read it.  So I open up my concordance and look up the word “dog” and there I find every phrase in the Bible that contains the word “dog”.  Quickly scanning the list I would soon find that Proverbs 26:17 is the verse for which I am looking.  Turning to my Bible I could then look it up and read it in context.  (Of course, I have the books of the Bible memorized so I easily know how to find the book of Proverbs.  :>)  Again, back in the day, we all used printed concordances that were big, heavy, and clumsy to carry around.  Sometimes we would cover the kitchen table with all our reference books, the concordance being the largest, as we studied out a particular topic or concept.  It’s easier nowadays.  Now, all I have to do is pull up my favorite Bible study software, type “dog” in the search line, and “Voila!”, there is that same list of phrases that all contain the word “dog”.  I have my favorite software that I use.  Besides making multiple versions/translations of the Bible available for me to search and read, it provides me with a massive library of reference works.  Open up your browser and do a search for “computer programs for studying the Bible”.  When I did that a few minutes ago, I found an article with the “Six Best Bible Study Programs” listed by how they came out in the reviews.  Pick one, install it and try it out.  But, really, to start searching the Bible you don’t even need a dedicated app like one of those listed in that article.  Do this – enter a Bible reference, maybe “Bible Revelation 19” into the search bar of your favorite search engine.  Press enter and you will get hits on multiple sites that serve the same purpose as a dedicated Bible study program.  For most simple searches, that is more than adequate.  So, open up your browser and have fun looking around at what is available.

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