I always get a little nervous when I post things about faith and Christ because I don’t want people to think that I do this to show off. I think that Satan wants me to succumb to this fear–in fact I know he does. However, my prayer is always that you see Jesus, not Holly, in these types of works. He knows my heart and I hope you see that I don’t do this to boast. I have nothing to boast about, except for the amazing things He has done in my life and not through my own doing, but His alone.
So today I want to focus on a topic that seems rather simple, but is actually anything but simple. And that is where to start when reading the Bible. I struggled with consistently reading my Bible for a while because I just honestly didn’t know where to begin. I was afraid it was too complex for me to understand and I wouldn’t find it even interesting (@OldTestament). One day, God challenged my old way of thinking and I felt myself longing for His absolute truth to just permeate my heart and mind. I started in a book I knew I loved, the Psalms, and He hasn’t disappointed me since.
See, the Bible is a living word that never fails to excite its readers. I find new lessons, verses and truths every single time I crack open the pages of my pink and brown Bible I bought for Bible class when I moved to OCS in eighth grade. If you are feeling that same thirst to know God and hear His voice, let me give you some tips that I learned throughout my own struggles learning how to read the Bible.
How to Study the Bible On Your Own
- Utilize blogs–My absolute favorite blog is John Piper’s Desiring God (follow on Twitter or Instagram). At OCS there is a banner in the middle school that is John Piper’s quote, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” Our sophomore Bible teacher, Mr. Eckel, made us memorize it. This blog posts different articles from different authors about various topics and for me, was a great way to study the Bible from a topical perspective. However, don’t just read the posts and move on. Pull out your Bible and read the verses in the post and make notes in the margins, so when you come back to that verse you can remember what you previously learned and deepen your knowledge.
- Utilize online sermons–Sure we all belong to one or two churches, but that doesn’t mean those are the only churches to learn from. I love studying my Bible through listening to or watching sermons online during my quiet time. I would highly recommend checking out Matt Chandler, Frontline Church and Tommy Nelson (his Song of Solomon series is amazing).
- Look up commentary–If you want to go deeper into your studies, Google will be your best friend. If there is something I don’t understand, I’ll just Google the verse with commentary. You can find several resources that will explain whatever it is that you’re reading.
- Pick a time to study your Bible every day–For me, the best time to study my Bible is right before bed. Instead of watching TV to unwind before I sleep, I have my quiet time. I found that having a consistent time makes it a lot easier to keep up with every day. So pick a time that works for you every single day and you’re going to be less likely to miss a day.
- Just start reading–I had to get over this expectation that every time I read the Bible I would understand the meaning of what I was reading. I felt like I shouldn’t not understand what I was reading and half of the battle was just accepting the fact that I won’t understand everything the very first time. The Bible is written in many styles by many authors from the perspective of 2000 years ago. There are cultural references that we don’t get without studying the time period or looking up commentary of the verse. So, get over this expectation of being a Biblical expert and just start somewhere. I love reading the Psalms, so that’s a good place to start. All of the New Testament is relatively easy too. Don’t sleep on the Old Testament, though. There is some cool stuff in there.
- Don’t let fear of burn out keep you from starting–When I began reading the Bible every day, I was worried that I would get burnt out. I know what the word says about it being a living Bible and I know that we can never know too much about God. However, I was worried more so about my sinful flesh letting me down–not the Bible. But, once again, the Bible is a living word and we can never know too much about God! Every time I open my Bible I get excited. It’s something I look forward to. I never had experienced the full satisfaction of Christ until I made a habit of reading His word, and that is something I will never get tired of. Which leads me to…
- Don’t worry about not being smart enough–Let’s face it. Nobody is smart enough to fully understand the entire Bible. Yes, we get the main message. But I believe only God knows everything there is to know about the Bible. Just like our God, who we can never know everything about, the Bible is a living word used to sharpen us. It will never stop sharpening us because only until Heaven, will God’s work in us be complete.
Holly Hoehner is a public relations senior at the University of Oklahoma. She considers herself more of a Russell Westbrook than a Kevin Durant and enjoys learning about and participating in the digital age, blogging about anything that comes to her mind and creating witty Instagram captions. Holly was raised a die-hard Sooner fan in Edmond, OK.