I don’t remember sitting down with a bible for the first time. I really don’t. I know for the first few years of growing in my faith, I kept everything inside this one journal. I would write down my feelings and prayers. Somewhere in 2011, when I started going to a church for the first time as my own choice, I started sitting with a bible.
The bible at first glance is a pretty intimidating book. I didn’t know where to begin and there are some days, five years later, where I still question where to dig.
There was this one night at Taproom where I was sitting at the bar by the window reading through a Charles Spurgeon sermon I’d printed out. I kept having this reaction to the text-- nearly every line-- like, “Oh my goodness, how did I not know this? How did I not see this?” There was this overwhelming feeling inside of me that suddenly I had so much to learn. Though you could argue I have a lifetime ahead of me to learn about God, a lifetime suddenly feels too short for all the studying I want to do.
I used to feel lost when it came to studying the bible. My time with God was stale and a bit lifeless. I would read a page of a devotional and that would take up five minutes of my time. There was no space in that study time to get to know God better, to ask Him questions, or to search out answers.
Be encouraged if you are starting small: your hunger for the word of God can absolutely grow and expand.
Today, I study everyday. I do everything humanly possible not to miss these study times. They are the first thing I do on a daily basis. I either study from my office or I pick a coffee shop (usually Taproom) to sit down and dig in.
My studying time usually averages an hour a morning though there are definitely days where I go for two hours easily. I find that the more time I spend with God in the morning, the more my day expands and I suddenly feel a lot more ease about the hours ahead and the tasks I need to accomplish.
I compiled a list of resources to help you dig deeper into the scripture:
SHE READS TRUTH
I think She Reads Truth is an awesome resource for those who are new to studying the bible and are looking for a devotional to accompany their journey. They have a fantastic app that is easy to navigate and the studies are either free or available for two to three dollars. Mind you, that’s two to three dollars for a 14-40 day study! The benefits of this app are worth it. You’ll gain community and the council of wise voices who are writing the content for you.
SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES
I just started digging into this devotional and I am absolutely loving it. I bought it for $3.99 off of Amazon. Search the Scriptures is a 3-year devotional that leads you through the entire bible. It’s not overambitious but what I love about the devotional is that it leaves the text of the bible open-ended for you. You dig. You search. You write down answers.
A lot of devotionals out there are more for the “beginner mindset.” The devotionals are packaged with answers and wrapped with a bow. For me, I like the task of searching for myself. I am more likely to retain information when I discover it on my own.
I was debating on where to put my friend Jane in this blog post. I immediately concluded that Jane must be her own category. So meet Jane. Jane is about to be your bible study girl crush. I mean it.
Jane taught me how to dig in the Word of God. She is who I thank for teaching me how to develop a hunger for the Bible. Jane taught me to cross-reference, highlight, interpret and translate. She's a beast and you should sit at her feet and learn everything she has to teach about Jesus.
Lane and I are big fans of commentary. I feel comfortable enough with you guys to nerd out over the fact that I just bought three books the other week to begin our first commentary collection together. Bible commentaries “aid in the study of Scripture by providing explanation and interpretation of Biblical text.”
Most times, bible commentaries are broken down into books of the bible and are written by popular theologians who know their stuff. I recommend the following commentaries to get you started:
PICK A PLACE AND PLANT DOWN
The bible is especially intimidating (and not very attractive to keep coming back to) when you always stick with the grab-and-go method. In order to get the most out of the text, you must be willing to plant down your roots and do the hard work of studying, asking questions, and finishing.
By “finishing” I mean, commit to an entire book of the bible. Commit to studying everyday until you finish it. This summer, I committed to the book of Acts. It took me nearly three months but I studied every verse within every chapter. Now I have a rich understanding of the book of Acts and where it fits in the divine story of God coming to earth.
Lost on where to start? I cannot recommend this book by my friend Everett enough. Start with the book of James. Order this book. And begin. Read a chapter each day or read two pages a day. I met with a reader last month who said her study time expanded from ten minutes in the morning to thirty minutes because of this book.
Plain and simple, Everett goes through the book of James verse-by-verse. He leaves no stone unturned. If you’ve never dissected a book of the bible on your own then I recommend this book as a companion.
I would love to hear what works for you when it comes to digging deeper into the scriptures. Let’s dialogue in the comments below!