When I first believed in Jesus, I did not own a Bible. A precious friend gave me my first Bible a couple of days after I asked Jesus to come into my life and help me. I was brand new in a church, and the pastor was visiting our family because Austin had just died. I can recall one visit with remarkable detail. I can still see where he was sitting at our kitchen table, who was there, and what was said.
Pastor Steve (www.dscchurch.com) said something that changed my life forever. He said, “I believe that when you give your life to Jesus, you get the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is the one who helps you understand the Bible.” Humpf! I recall crossing my arms and sitting back in my chair. I was skeptical. The Bible never made sense before. The Holy Spirit was the power of God and here was this pastor saying that I now had the gift of the Holy Spirit ~ and now the Bible would make sense?
Did I mention I was skeptical? So, the next morning, I picked up my Bible thinking, “let’s just see if this Holy Spirit thing is true…” You don’t have to guess what happened next ~ it’s totally true and amazing! Pastor Steve was right! The Holy Spirit will make the Bible come alive and your Bible will not only make sense, but God will use it to speak to you in ways you could never imagine.
So, before you consider studying your Bible, you should make Jesus Lord of your life and then ask the Holy Spirit to help you fall in love with the Word of God. It’s the best decision you’ll ever make! If you have any questions about making Jesus Lord of your life, or about the Holy Spirit, please email me at KimErickson@LoveMyWord.com because I would love to help you get started on your new life.
How to start studying your Bible:
The first book I ever picked up about studying the Bible was Kay Arthur’s “How to Study Your Bible.” Kay Arthur’s method is comprehensive and thorough. Using this method, you will search for the who, what, where, when, and why of each book. You will also read each chapter looking for theme’s.
For those of you who love to mark up, circle, highlight, and color when you read and study something, then Kay Arthur’s method is for you (although it’s probably not for everyone!) Her method also might be for you if you like to go slowly and dig into the meaning of words or look up the history of a phrase or cultural reference. You will certainly learn through this method.
The next thing I did was purchase a “study Bible.” A study Bible will give you an overview of each book and author, historical references, maps, footnotes that link the Scriptures together, and possibly commentary (what a scholar thinks it means). A study Bible also will contain a Concordance (like a dictionary, usually in the back of the book). In the Concordance, you can look up words and find every time the Bible uses that word. For example, shortly after Austin died, I read every verse referencing “heaven” by using my Concordance in the back of my study Bible.
There are also several websites that can help you dig deeper into your Bible. One of my favorites is www.Biblegateway.com. On this website, you can look up words, phrases, stories, different translations, commentaries, etc. It’s very user-friendly! Another good site is www.BibleStudyTools.com , which contains a reading plan for getting through the Bible in one year. For a site to help you get into your Bible every day, you can also try this site.
Another way to study is simply to slow down. Don’t just “read” your Bible to check it off your list for the day. Consider summarizing each verse in your own words. You could also write notes every time a verse tells you something about God. A very simple way to “study” your Bible is to remember “SOAP!” S = Scripture/write the passage from your Bible; O = Observation/write what do these verses say to you; A = Application/write practical ideas for how to do this in your daily life; and P = Prayer/ write a prayer about it. This link is a 5 minute video by one of the pastors at a Jacksonville, FL church (www.southpointcc.com) explaining this very simple SOAP process of studying the Word.
You can do this!
How to start praying to God:
If you are having a difficult time praying to God, just think about it as a conversation with someone who loves you very much. It’s ok to pour your heart out. It’s ok to cry, to shout, to laugh, to be joyful. Then, as with any good friend, you stop and listen. Let her talk for a bit. It can be the same with God. Just start talking to Him and then listening for His voice. God’s voice may be a small, still feeling in your heart as you sit quietly. The more you talk to Him, the more He will talk back!
Once you get into the habit of talking to God and listening for His voice, you can start to learn more about prayer. Also, your Bible (see above) will help you learn more about prayer and why it’s so important to God. But, for now, just make time to be alone and talk to God. You can even download a free app on your phone called Prayer Mate that can help you. Also, if you are struggling with how to get started praying, you can use the Lord’s Prayer as a model. If you want a more in-depth model for prayer, this model Tabernacle Prayer by Pastor Cho is really great.