Fall is just around the corner, and I know for me personally it is a time to rethink my schedule and get back into routines I let slip over the summer months. One routine I hope we never let slip is time in God's Word. I'm hoping to encourage you today and inspire you with some new ideas or maybe just get you back on track with how you already like to study God's Word.
I've written posts on what my time in the Word looks like, and it changes over the different seasons of my life (you can read them here and here). I've shared the importance of making time with the Lord a priority in your day here, and I've share Bible Study options for Busy Mama's here. Favorite Bible study tools have been a topic in a Facebook group I'm in with Women's Hope Project, and there were so many great resources shared, and it had me thinking about where do I turn to consistently when studying God's Word?
I'd love to share some of my favorite Bible study tools with you, and I hope you'll join in with me in the comments or on our Facebook page to share your favorites too.
The Most Important Tool:
Obviously, it is the Bible itself. The Bible is a study tool all on its own. Scripture interprets scripture. One of my best pieces of advice would be just to read it. Read it all the way through on a regular basis. There are tons of bible reading plans online, and you can take longer than a year – it is okay!! You can take three years or more but just read it. We learn about God and what He desires of us, and He speaks to us through His Word.
Bible reading can be such a neglected discipline and many times we find ourselves reading books about the Bible instead of reading the actual Bible itself.
I just pick a different plan every year to go through, and I love a devotional to go along with my reading. I've used D.A. Carson's For the Love of God series, John MacArthur's Daily Bible, Robert Murray M'Cheyne's Reading Plan, TableTalk magazine, The Narrated Bible, Professor Horner's Bible Reading plan (it is a bit more intense but good) and currently I'm reading it through chronologically using The Gospel Transformation Bible as my devotional notes. (You can read about my current time in the Word here along with how other busy Mama's get in the study and reading of God's Word at Renewed in Truth.)
Take the time when you're reading to pick out a passage and work through it using the SOAP method (Scripture, Observation, Application & Prayer) to dig a bit deeper. Look up the cross-references that are listed in your bible to see what other Bible passages relate to the one you're currently reading.
One method that may be a help for busy moms is to use John MacArthur's recommended way of reading through the Old Testament in a year and reading one book of the New Testament for a whole month or months depending on the size of the book. You would break down that New Testament book if it is longer into several chapters and read and re-read them for the whole month or months. If it's a short book like Titus, you read it every day for the whole month. In this way, you get very familiar with your Bible, and you may not even need a concordance to find things!
My Word Study Tools:
I like the ease of online and am thankful for all the apps and websites out there to look up the meaning of a word in the Greek or Hebrew.
My favorite is Blue Letter Bible (I use their app on my iPad or iPhone – they have one for Android too!) The Interlinear/Concordance feature is my most used and I do appreciate being able to just click on the cross-references and have all verses right there listed to read with whatever verse I'm studying.
StudyLight is another easy one for word studies, and they also have some great commentaries available online too. I tend to use them when I'm on my computer online and seem to choose Blue Letter Bible when I'm on a device. I think they're both great resources and the best way to learn them is just to start using them and playing around in them.
Studying the Word:
I have benefitted greatly from The New Inductive Bible Study, and Kay Arthur at Precepts Ministries brought this method to life and made it easy for us common lay people to study God's Word on our own. There are many tools to use, and my favorite is The New Inductive Study Bible in the ESV. With this Bible and Blue Letter Bible (which I forgot to mention is free!), you don't need any other tools. Okay maybe some good marking pens ;).
Doorposts blog has some good inductive studies on Psalms and various chapters of the bible (see their category list on their sidebar) that are great at getting an introduction to inductive Bible study. I turn to them at times when I need something structured. I've bought the physical books, but all their studies are free on their blog too.
I have benefitted greatly by commentaries and finding a theologically sound teacher is important but stating that I'm sharing this from GotQuestions.org on the use of commentaries:
“Commentaries are widely used in personal Bible study. The advantage of a Bible commentary is that one can quickly gain perspective on the text’s meaning, as understood by the commentary’s author. One caution concerning Bible commentaries is that they should not be used instead of personal study; rather, they are designed for use in addition to personal study. Since the commentary itself is not Scripture, it’s important for a reader to weigh what he reads against other sources, as well as his own Spirit-led analysis. As the products of fallible people, commentaries are not necessarily correct in every word.”
Here's a list of my top used commentaries and websites:
John MacArthur Study Bible and the Grace to You Bible Study App ( I upgraded to get the study notes online too – love this because we travel a lot so I'm not lugging tons of books with me) – I'll also use his commentaries on books of the New Testament that I'm studying that my husband has on hand in his library.
PreceptAustin.org is a most excellent free resource – bookmark it and you will find yourself turning to it often as you study God's Word.
The Treasury of David – Free online Commentary on the Psalms by Charles Spurgeon
Recommended Bible Study Books:
My top picks to learn to study God's Word for yourself would be, How to Study Your Bible by Kay Arthur, Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin and How to Study the Bible by John MacArthur. Any of those would be a great place to start. Women of the Word would be my top pick and from there I would move onto one of her free studies online here.
I like to listen to sermons online during the week and obviously the most important sermons to hear are the ones from our own home churches. Even if we're traveling on vacation we try to get to a church and I like to catch up to our home churches sermons that I miss online. (Pastor Ross is taking us through the book of Matthew now and we're currently in the Beatitudes and it's so good – I've been reading each week from D. Martin Lloyd Jones book Studies in the Sermon on the Mount to go along with the series at church.)
I may listen to a sermons series on a particular book of the bible that I'm currently studying or just find a series that is good and go through it little by little. SermonAudio, Truth for Life by Alistair Begg, and Grace to You by John MacArthur.
In Closing & Quick Start Suggestions:
Please remember to offer yourself grace in this area. If you're good at Bible study, don't become arrogant about it to someone who is not there yet. We are all still a work in progress.
The most important reminder is to spend time in God's Word reading it and that may look different for each of us depending on the season in life we are in. If you can set aside at least one day a week (more would be great), you would find such a benefit in your walk with the Lord.
Some quick start suggestions, use the reading plan that goes along with The Bible Project videos they are a great resource to give you an overview of the current book you're reading. If you want to get started studying God's Word a bit deeper head over to Doorposts and start with one of their free online studies. Her walk through Psalm 91 was one of my favorites along with John 15.
Learning and knowing more about this wonderful God who has redeemed us as his children is such a blessing but even more so is allowing that knowledge to humble us and mold us more and more into the image of His Son by our application of the Word.
The hope is time in the Word will make us more like Christ.
Your turn – what are some of your favorite Bible Study Resources?