There are different ways to approach the study of God’s word. What may have a great impact on one person, may drop like a dead weight on the heart of another. The important thing is to find a study program that imparts knowledge, respects the scriptures as God-inspired and ignites a greater passion for Him. 2 Timothy 2:15 instructs us to “rightly divide the word of truth”, in other words, handle it correctly. Apply the hermeneutical disciplines of biblical exegesis to avoid false doctrine. Draw out from the text rather than read meaning into it, and let other passages inform understanding. Another thing that’s important is to find a study program that exposes the life and relevancy of God’s word for growth and practical application (James 1:22). The following are a few of my favorite study tools:
Study Guides That Will Help You Fall in Love with the Bible
Favorite one-year bible reading plan
Rose Publishing produces the One Year Bible Reading Plan, This program consists of 14 full-color, laminated panels that fit nicely in your bible. I like this particular program because there are three different plans to choose from:
- Plan 1: Directs a daily reading from a portion of the Old Testament, a portion of the New Testament, a Psalm, and a section of Proverbs.
- Plan 2: Divides the reading into one of seven categories of scripture per day: Epistles, Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy, and Gospels.
- Plan 3: Provides a guide to read through the bible from beginning to end.
Favorite one-year Bible
The One Year Bible is similar to the plan listed above, but it takes the extra step of dividing God’s Word into 365 daily readings organized by dates in order to stay on target throughout the year. A balance of chronological passages from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs, make for an unforgettable devotional experience that you can achieve daily in about 15-20 minutes. It also includes helpful study guides and comes in a variety of translations. The same system is also available online using the website oneyearbibleonline.com.
Favorite study Bibles
Being familiar with the teaching of Dr. David Jeremiah, it was exciting to hear that his long term project, The Jeremiah Study Bible, was finally completed. I have only had the chance to flip through a copy at this point, but based on interviews, research and testimonies I am finding that it has exceeded my expectations. It comes with over 8,000 individual study notes, hundreds of word studies and sidebar information. It even provides historical insight and contextual referencing, complete with helpful archaeological and geographical helps.
Another good study bible option is The Amplified Bible. Although it can be a verbose and clumsy read, is extremely helpful because it elaborates on all the nuance and depth of meaning of the original languages. Instead of having to look up each word to find out how it can be defined, The Amplified Bible defines words and phrases as you read.
Favorite commentary series
A great commentary set to own is the Matthew Henry’s six volume Complete Commentary. Originally written in 1706, it provides an exhaustive look at every verse in the Bible, and is an excellent read.
For a little more folksy commentary, J. Vernon McGee wrote a series of expository discussions on each passage of scripture that will benefit the novice and serve as a refresher for the scholar. Written in plain English, it is clear and accessible to almost anyone – a great study for the whole family. I went through most of the series years ago and gained a solid biblical foundation. I consult this commentary from time to time and still learn a great deal from it. Although he may come across as a little old fashioned, his sweet and compassionate spirit spills out into his teaching. Careful attention to the exact meaning of a passage and its context makes it as relevant today as it was when it was first delivered.
Charles H. Spurgeon’s devotional Morning and Evening is a meditation on a particular scripture in the morning, then another in the evening. He is not contemporary but his work is scholarly, passionate and relevant to the core.
My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers, is a classic of devotional publications. He was not widely known until after his death at age 43 when his widow transcribed his teachings, and other of his writings, from the notes she had taken. Among the most popular was this compilation of selected teachings into 365 days of daily devotions.
Create your own study program
Another way to study is to do your own in-depth study on a single book in the Bible. Spend the first several days reading the book over and over, all the while highlighting and taking notes. Then go through it verse by verse and look up important words in the original language. Two of the most important tools needed to help with this method of study are Strong’s Exhaustive concordance, and Vine’s Expository Dictionary. It is also helpful to have commentaries on hand from a proven and trusted source, a good Bible dictionary and a Bible atlas.
This year let the daily reading of God’s word cleanse you and keep you from sin, build in you wisdom and knowledge, and give you unparalleled power against the forces of the enemy (Psalm 119).
Do you have a favorite Bible study plan? What devotionals do you use? Let us know in the comments.