how to have an effective Bible study

How to Have an Effective Bible Study

There are many different methods to study the Bible. There are also several acronym methods that are similar to each other but all have the same end result: an effective Bible study. Let me help you walk through one method of study so you can dig in deep in the Word for yourself.

If you’re not sure about Bible study, whether it is something you should be doing, you can read 8 Benefits of Regular Bible Study. This should help you understand the importance of Bible study for your spiritual growth.

So, if you’ve been wondering how to study the Bible for yourself, then you’ve come to the right place!

Various Bible Study Methods

Let’s take a quick peek at some of the Bible study methods that are out there. You may recognize some of these, if not in title, then in the description:

  1. The Survey Method is like a panoramic broad view of the Book that you’re studying. You learn about the author or main character, the geography, the era, the theme and important topics.
  2. The Topical Method is like many of the Bible study books you see in Christian bookstores. It focuses on a specific topic and explores the whole Bible on that topic.
  3. The Biographical Method is a biography of a Biblical character, like David, for instance, and studies all about him, what kind of man he was and what he did that made him so well-known.
  4. The Word Study Method is a study of words or terms that may be unfamiliar to readers, like, redemption, propitiation, sin, the blood of the Lamb, etc. Tools used for this type of study would be a concordance and a Bible dictionary to help you dig deep.
  5. The Devotional Method is more of a devotional time than a technical study. You read a portion of text, the devotion based on that text as well as an end with a simple prayer. This is probably a method that you have heard of or maybe even used before.
  6. The Expositional Method is studying the Bible verse-by-verse. This is more familiarly known as the Inductive Bible Study Method. It uses the three elements of Observation, Interpretation, and Application.

Source: originally published on Women’s Tabletop Friendship as 6 Bible Study Methods to Enhance Your Bible Understanding.

Of these six methods, I most often use the Topical, Word, and Expositional Methods. I would love to work on a Survey study sometime, maybe of the Minor Prophets since they would be suited to a panoramic survey.

How Deep Do You Want to Study?

That’s a great question, how deep do you want to study? How effective do you want your Bible study to be?

A couple of questions to consider are, do you want to let someone teach you the Word or do you want to learn for yourself?

If you want to hear someone else lead a study, like in a women’s study group, for example, you would read the assigned work and then listen to the study leader. You would respond to the questions and possibly turn the pages of your Bible to find the answers. You may even write down notes as you go along.

Will you learn from this method? Sure you will but if you’re like me, you may quickly forget what you learned from it.

Now, if you want to go deeper in your Bible study, and if you want your study to be effective, you will need to do the research.

Effective Bible study means you dig into the truth for yourself.

When you use the Bible tools to find the answers, you will remember what you’ve learned so much more than listening to someone else teach it.

You see, when others present Bible studies to you, they’ve done the research and dug into the Word to find what they want to teach. They reap the rewards of an in-depth study but you, the listener, not so much.

That’s the kind of study you want to do, dig deep for yourself, right?

So, how do you do this?

Tools for Effective Bible Study

To study deep, you’ll need some tools. Let’s look at what they are first, then we’ll go over the “how to study” part.

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. This is a great reference book to have on your bookshelf. You can use other concordances as well but as far as I know, this one is the most complete one on the market.

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. This reference is invaluable. It gives a great explanation of the original meanings, whether it’s Hebrew or Greek.

The New Bible Commentary, Revised. This is a one-volume book and is very handy to have. However, you may have other commentaries that are just as helpful.

These are my top ‘go-to’ reference books on my bookshelf. Some others that I use are:

  • Nave’s Topical Bible
  • Zondervan Handbook to the Bible
  • The New Strong’s Dictionary of Bible Words
  • Commentary on the Whole Bible by Jamieson, Frusset, Brown

Do you know where I bought many of my hard copy reference books? Thrift shops, Bible store second-hand section, second-hand stores, etc. People are no longer keeping their hard copies of these amazing reference books. Possibly they received them in inheritances and just don’t feel they need them. But, I do, so I’m blessed with them!

If it isn’t feasible to have hard copy books, then have you considered the Blue Letter Bible or Bible Gateway? They have excellent resources, commentaries, tools, everything you would need to do a comprehensive study. I sometimes use them but I do prefer my hard copy books. There’s just something about turning the pages of a physical book, you know?

Additional Tools

Some other tools you will need before you get started with your next great study are:

  • A good pen
  • Quality colour pencils and a pencil sharpener
  • A Bible you can mark in that has a wide margin for notes
  • Notebook
  • A variety of colour Micron pens with archival ink that won’t bleed through thin pages
  • A large 5×7 inch index card for developing a keyword list
  • Kari King Dent’s list of keywords

If you don’t want to mark up your favourite Bible, you can always check the thrift stores or second-hand stores for a Bible. Or, you can print out the book you want to study from an online source like Bible Gateway. I usually paste the content into Word, then enlarge the font size to something I can read.

So, let’s talk about the “how to” part of an effective Bible study now.

Getting Started with an In-depth Study

Remember I mentioned the method that I use the most, the Expositional Method, otherwise known as the Inductive Method? Let’s look at how that works. Once you have this figured out, you’ll be able to apply these principles to either the Topical Study or Word Study Methods.

This post, 3 Elements of Inductive Study Method, goes into more detail of the inductive approach.

Step 1 – begin with prayer

First, the thing you should always do before starting any kind of Bible activity is, begin with prayer. I know you knew that!

Step 2 – decide on a book study

Decide which Bible book you are going to study. If this is your first time using this method, you may want to start with a short book like Jude or Philemon. They each contain 25 verses so it would be a great introduction to the Inductive Study Method.

Step 3 – identify keywords

You’ll need your additional tools, listed above.

Read through the text a few times and note if there are any keywords that stand out to you. Write them on the index card.

Label this index card with the Book Name Keywords, ie, Philemon Keywords. You can use this card as a bookmark later on.

Research Reason

As you are reading the text, you may see words that you are not familiar with, especially if you’re using the King James Version. Though it doesn’t matter what version you use, there are words that need further discovery.

For example, you may see “sound doctrine” or “healing” or “salvation” and wonder about the original meaning. This is the time to crack open those research books to see what the writer originally meant.

So often in the various translations, the original meaning is lost. When we read it, we apply today’s English to the meaning which throws us off in our theology.

So, it doesn’t matter what the word is, if you take the few minutes to look up the original meaning, you will gain a whole lot.

Step 4 – identify the author and recipients

The best thing to do is always start with the WHO. Who wrote the book and WHO is/are the recipient(s).

Refer to the Kari King Dent reference for marking keywords to decide on how you will mark the Author and the Recipients. Once you decide that, you can identify it on your index card, similar to what you see on Kari’s keyword list.

Now, as you read the text, mark the Author and the Recipient. Make sure these markings are distinctive from each other.

In addition to marking the Author and Recipients, you need to also mark the pronouns and any synonyms.

Once you have these two people clearly marked, it will be easy to see who is who as you observe the rest of the text.

Step 5 – observe what is in the text

Read through the text again and ask yourself the 5W and H questions. They are, who, what, where, when, why and how.

So, as you read the text, ask yourself some questions like

  • who is writing this book?
  • who is he writing to?
  • why is he writing to this person or group of people?
  • what is happening or going to happen?
  • when is it happening?
  • where is this taking place or will take place?
  • how will this event take place?

As you are finding the answers, make note of anything noteworthy in your notebook. Include the address, which is the chapter and verse. This helps when you are looking at your notebook, later on, to know where that answer came from.

Step 6 – mark the keywords

Now the fun begins. You already identified the keywords in Step 3, so now you will read through the text again to mark them. But, let’s do this in order.

Before you start marking, you need to decide on a symbol. Use the Kari King Dent reference file to help you come up with creative ways to mark keywords. You can use her symbols or you can make up your own.

Why do we do this? Well, the main reason is to have continuity between all the books of the Bible that you will study. When you decide on a symbol for “God,” you will always mark it the same from book to book. So, when you are flipping through the pages of your Bible and you see symbols, the “God” symbol will always be the same and therefore, recognizable.

Now, focus on the first keyword that you identified. Read through the text again to look for that keyword. When you find it, mark it with the symbol you decided on. Make sure it is on your index card first so you don’t forget what it is.

Read the text again for each keyword, marking it as you go along.

For each keyword you identified, you will read the text and mark it. This means that if you identified 10 keywords, then you will read the text at least 10 times to mark each of those words.

Interpret to Discover the Meaning

Once you have finished marking all the keywords, you are ready to interpret the meaning of the text. Make sure though that you are using Scripture to help you interpret and not what you think it means.

Thinking outside of Scripture can get you in trouble with your theology. That’s how false teaching starts. So, as you are interpreting the text, ensure that you are keeping everything in context.

What’s context? It is interpreting the text in light of the surrounding verses, and the entire Word of God.

You can ask yourself some questions to help you with your interpretation.

  • is my interpretation consistent with the theme or purpose of the book?
  • is it consistent with other Scripture that contains the same subject or theme?
  • am I considering historic and cultural context?

Keep in mind that Scripture will never contradict Scripture. So, if you have a different interpretation than other parts of the the Bible, you will need to rethink your interpretation.

Tools for Effective Bible Study by Cindy Barnes #biblestudy Click To Tweet

Online Bible Study Group

Well, that’s one way to have an effective Bible study that has you digging in deep. This is something that you can do on your own but you don’t have to.

If you would like to join other women who are starting out with this method, feel free to join us over on Facebook in my private group called Deeper in God Bible Studies. We have both Writing Challenges and Bible Studies.

The Writing Challenges are either 5 or 10-Day Challenges where we write out whole Books of the Bible. For instance, we’ve written out Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians. We’ll be writing out Philippians from April 1st to 5th.

When the Challenge is finished, we flow right into the Bible Study using my own Study Guides that are available to group members only. There is no charge for either the Writing Challenges or Bible Studies.

That’s a Wrap

Well, that’s a wrap for today. I hope this gets you started on your own in-depth Bible study.

You now know about the various study methods and you know how to study using the Inductive study approach.

Don’t forget that you can join my study group. We’d love to have you! The link is up above.

If you have any questions about how to have an effective Bible study, please leave them in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

Who First Read the Bible to You?

Who first made the stories in the Bible come alive? This summer, we are hoping to offer a Link-up Series, Summer of Legacy. We are looking for anyone who would link up a post about someone who helped build your legacy. This could be parents, grandparents, teachers, even a public figure, current or historical or biblical.

Here’s how it will work. You write a post on your own blog. Then on the set week, you come to our website and add a link to your blog. We hope to do one a month, May through August. Each month will have a particular theme. Presently, we are considering the following topics.

  • Legacy Builders: Women
  • Legacy Builders: Men
  • Building A Legacy in a Blended Family
  • Building a Legacy Through Adoption

Sign up now to be notified when the LinkUps become available. This registration will NOT subscribe you to our weekly newsletter, just Link ups



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Benefits of regular Babile Study

8 Benefits of Regular Bible Study

In this post, I would like to offer you 8 benefits of Bible study along with 5 reasons why you should develop the habit. But first, let me ask you a question: If you looked at all the books you own, which one would be your favourite? Do you have one that you would definitely pack if you were moving to another home?

Continue reading
keeping the faith

4 Building Blocks to Growing Our Faith


I Praise God for His Salvation

I thank Him daily for loving us (me) so much that He sent His Son to earth to live a perfect life, to suffer the cruel death on a crimnal’s cross, but then rise again just to save us all from our sins. Praise His beautiful name! [Read my testimony of faith on my memoirs blog.] But I want to know Him more. I want to grow closer and closer to Him.

Salvation Goes Beyond the Altar

But it doesn’t stop there. Our salvation goes beyond the day that you kneel at an altar and confess your sins to God.

Yes, I believe that we are saved by grace, it is not of works lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8). Yes, I believe that we are made into a new creation. The old is gone and the new is here! 2 Corinthians Praise the Lord!

We are saved by grace, not of works @ggmandy Click To Tweet

We are Called to Grow in Grace

But we are also called to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:18). If we gave birth to a baby and that child remained a baby forever, we would be saddened. It would break our hearts if the child never learned to walk and talk and live a productive life. Yes, we would still love him but we would desire so much more for him.

The very next verse in Ephesians 2 says,
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Salvation Leads Us into Service

So our salvation should lead us into service for God .. living a life that glorifies Him and leads others to Him. ie. growing in grace

2 Peter 3 says, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. “

And the Apostle Paul exhorts us in Ephesians 4:1-6 (AMP),
So I, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to you to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called [that is, to live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behavior—a life that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation], with all humility [forsaking self-righteousness], and gentleness [maintaining self-control], with patience, bearing with one another in [unselfish] love. Make every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace [each individual working together to make the whole successful]. There is one body [of believers] and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when called [to salvation]— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all who is [sovereign] over all and [working] through all and [living] in all.


Live a Life Worthy of the Call

So, I too, encourage you to live the life worthy of His calling. We need to work to live holy lives to the glory and honor of God and also, to be a light in the darkness so that others can find the way to Christ.

Photo credit: free at Canva.com; Modified by Mandy

In order to “leave a legacy” for our children and those around us we must first grow ourselves. And how to do we grow? First, we study the Bible. We fill our minds and saturate our lives with His Word.


All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Growth through Bible Reading

Bible reading and study teach us how to live for Him. It corrects us when we are wrong, encourages our faith and keeps us on the narrow way. And because we need this encouragement in a moments notice, we should memorize the scriptures. King David said, “I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.”-Psalm 119:15. If David needed it, so do we.

If King David Needed it, so do we! Click To Tweet

Growth Thru Prayer

Secondly, we must communicate with God. Yes, pray to God and practice His presence every day. Communicating with God includes worship and adoration, repenting of sin, interceding for others, and yes even petition for our needs.

Growth Through Fellowship

Thirdly, we need fellowship with other believers. We are not an island. Without faith and encouragement of others, we would fall too easily. Solomon declared that “two are better than one because if one falls the other can help him up. Three are even better! (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) God promises that whenever we gather together even in a group of 2 or 3, that He will be in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20) Realistically, we need each other so don’t neglect the meeting together of believers.

Growth Through Sharing

And finally, we need to share the Gospel. We are not blessed with salvation so that we can keep it to ourselves. We are commanded to “go and make disciples of all nations”. Even without this command from Jesus, sharing our faith helps us (Matthew 28:19) stronger in it. It confirms in us our belief in Christ.

Let’s do this, friends!

In the coming weeks, we will be sharing more thoughts on these four growth factors. I have searched out some fellow bloggers who can so eloquently speak on these things and I have asked them to write encouragement to us to help us grow in the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Join me here on the blog every Monday to be instructed and encouraged. Have you subscribed to receive our updates? You can do so just below in the blue bar. Just add your email address and click submit!

Growing in Grace;

Mandy Farmer

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Take HOld Books

Take Hold Helps You Let Go

I’ve been thinking about this book, Take Hold of the Faith You Long For lately and even going back and thumbing through for a reference. So I figure it must be time to republish in the new blog.

When I heard that Sharon Jaynes was about to release a new book

and that I could have an opportunity to read it first, I jumped at the chance. You see, I’ve been praying the prayers from her book, Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe every day since it came out in 2014. (And then later read and took her 14 -day Romance Challenge) So I knew this new book would be worth the read.

From the beginning, “Take Hold” had my attention.

Sharon gently led me through a journey with  Moses in a much different way than I had before. She gently personalized the struggles of Moses with my life. She helped me consider each area in my life that might be holding me back. We walked through areas that could be keeping me from moving forward in my faith. Such as,

  • take hold boots

    Photo Credit: Sharon Jaynes Launch Team

    Insecurity

  • Inadequacy
  • Unforgiveness
  • “Weak-kneed” Worry
  • Shame
  • and more

And you can’t miss her Dr.Suess version of, Oh the Places You Will Go.

Read With a Highlighter

My book has highlight marks and notes all through it. And as I said, I keep referring back to it. This indicates it should be a great one for your shelves as well. Pick one up today.

Or if you’d like a little taste of it first. Download the YouVersion app onto your cell phone and search for the 7-day devotional of the same title.

Mandy Farmer

My Favorite Sharon Jaynes Books

 

Sharon’s Latest Book (which I still need to read)

majesty

What is Man That You Should Think of Us?

Why Does He?

“When I look at the night sky and see the work of Your fingers–the moon and the stars You have set in place–what are mortals that You should think of us, mere humans that You care for us?
You made us only a little lower than the angels, … You put us in charge of everything You made, … the sheep and the cattle and all the wild animals… O Lord, our Lord, the majesty of Your name fills the earth!” – Psalm 8:3-9

As I read this passage, I think of the shepherds in that field near Bethlehem so long ago. They probably had an amazing view of God’s creation day and night. They may have even taken it for granted, perhaps complaining when nature didn’t cooperate with what they planned.

Yet God, in all His wisdom and majesty, chose these mere humans to share the good news of great joy. The lowly shepherds were the first to tell everyone about the Savior, baby Jesus, born to save us.

What are mere humans, that God should think of us?

He loved us enough to send Jesus!

Glenae

If you would like to know more about following Jesus, click here

unconfessed

On Unconfessed Sin

Unconfessed sin?

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness… If anybody does sin, we have One who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
-I John 1:9-2-2

Does anyone else recall a conversation like this?

Adult: “Who did this?!”
Child: “It wasn’t me!”

It’s exasperating when someone named Not Me is always to blame! We wish they’d ” ‘fess up,” as the old saying goes; they won’t admit it for fear of consequences.

Yet don’t we as adults behave similarly with God?

Maybe we have spoken harshly to another, are slightly less than honest in a situation, are holding a grudge, or we even withhold love from someone. We think we’re justified in our actions until God convicts us of our sin.

Then what?

Well, then we should confess. Once we admit our sin, the Lord will forgive us, and our heart and soul are relieved of trying to hide what God Almighty already knows.

I once heard a woman in a prayer circle pray this prayer:

“Lord, take anything out of my heart that don’t need to be there.”
Oh, that we could and would all pray that prayer daily!

Each of us only needs to confess our sins, believing and receiving fully the grace God offers through Christ.

Today is a new day…begin it with Jesus!

What are you holding on to today that is keeping you from being truly free?

  • grudge?
  • unforgiveness?
  • hatred?
  • angry words?

You can leave them at the cross of Jesus and He will forgive. He will help you deal with the guilt and the consequences. Give it to Him today.

We would love for you to consider knowing Jesus personally. There is nothing like letting go of all the guilt and letting Him remove it as far as the east is from the west. If you want more information on how to know Christ personally, just click on the image below.

knowing Christ

Click on the image for more information on knowing Christ

fa from god

Feeling Far from God?

God’s Faithfulness

“I have heard all about You, Lord, and I am filled with awe by the amazing things you have done. In this time of our deep need, begin again to help us, as You did in years gone by. Show us Your power to save us.”-Habakkuk 3:2 NLT

Too many times, we feel far from God.

We know He is there. We know all He has done and will do. But sometimes there is a distance between us. If we really examine ourselves, our hearts, our intentions, our motives, we will often find that it was not God that moved away from us. Quite the contrary. Continue reading

Discover the Meaning in Life

What Have You Discovered?

It’s Five Minute Friday! I’m joining the gang to write on a specific prompt. Today’s Prompt: Discover!

Discover With the Wisest Man on Earth

Even though he was the wisest man of all time, King Solomon discovered much in his life. It’s kind of comforting to know that the wisest man of all time discovered that life is pretty much meaningless. If it was meaningless for him, no wonder we feel that way!

I’ve been studying along on the FIRST5 app from Proverbs 31 Ministries. We just finished studying the book of Ecclesiastes, written by Solomon. Solomon searched for meaning and documented his findings in this book of the Bible. He realized a lot of things about life. Continue reading

I Boast In My Weakness ~ In Christ I Am Strong

FMF Weak


 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT)

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

 

I can relate to the Apostle Paul here. He had some type of ailment or thorn in the flesh as he called it. He asked God to remove it several times, but God said, “My grace is sufficient ..” 

Yes. It is true. His grace is sufficient.

I just reached the 7-year mile marker of a journey with chronic pain. And I have learned that this pain causes me to rest on Him. In the past, I trusted in my own strength, but now His grace is sufficient for me.

Even in ministry, I found myself doing everything from my own wisdom and my own strength. So God had to take me down a few notches. He needed me to look to Him for wisdom and strength. Oh, how it is so much better to lean on Him. So much more can be accomplished through Him when I allow Him to do the work. And it is so much more exciting to see Him do it!

I have been there with Paul asking, 

“Can you take the pain away now? I have learned my lesson.”

And God responds,

“Really? Do you really think that you would continue to lean on Me or would you fall back into your old ways and begin again to trust your own strength.?”

Sadly, I think I know the answer.

I believe that no matter my good intentions, I would fall back on my own power.

So I accept this weakness, this “Thorn in the Flesh”.

For me, it is very literal. But I accept this pain and I lean on Him. Because His grace is sufficient. And His power is made perfect in my weakness.

Mandy Farmer

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a favorite old hymn by Mosie Lister