How to Study the Bible

Do you struggle to pick up the Bible and read it? Are you someone with multiple versions and study tools but no clue how to use them? The purpose of this post is to help you find a way to ease Bible reading into your life and create sustainable reading patterns.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Matthew 5:6

From one of Christ’s most known sermons comes an admonition with a promise: thirst for righteousness will be filled. Why? Because God desires a people that desire Him; He won’t leave you stranded when you search for Him. The point is not perfection. The point is just to start.

There are many ways to approach the Bible. One of the easiest methods is known as the S.O.A.P. method.

S.O.A.P. is a simple way to break down any scripture and make it practical. The anacronym stands for:

  • Scripture
    • Read a passage from the Bible and write it down in your journal. Some people choose to write out the whole scripture because it helps them remember it. Others paraphrase it or just write the reference.
  • Observation
    • Write down any observations that you make about the passage. For example, note who is speaking, who are they talking to, why they may be talking about that subject, etc.
    • This is also a good time to note any questions you may have about the text. For example, note any terms you are not familiar with, so you can research them and find their meaning.
  • Application
    • This is when you start translating the scriptures you read into your everyday life. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and find answers by digging deeper for contextual meaning.
    • Write down questions you have about the Scripture. Dig deeper with a concordance to find other scriptures related to the one you read, and read them too. Use a dictionary and commentaries to discern contextual meaning of words.
    • Translate what you learn into actionable steps you can apply to your life.
  • Prayer
    • This is where you connect with God and talk about what you have learned. Ask Him to help you commit the Word to memory and apply it to your life.
    • It’s a good idea to write down prayers in your journal because they can serve as mile markers on your journey when you look back on your writing and see how God has answered them.

S.O.A.P. is an effective way to approach any scripture and make it practical, but it is not the only way to read and learn. You can also do a noun study focused on a specific person, place, thing, or idea. You can also focus on a specific book and read that. This article goes into detail explaining five ways to approach Scripture. This article shows you how to deep dive on a scripture with the Inductive method.

Whatever method you choose, commit to it daily for at least a week. New habits form into lifestyles after a month of exposure to them.

What tools do you need?

First and foremost, you need a Bible. There are many different translations available. Choose a Bible that translates the established Canon with accuracy. Some of the reputable versions include the New International Version (NIV), New Living Translation (NLT), New King James Version (NKJV), and the Amplified Bible (AMP). Pick one that is reputable, in your native language, and clear enough that you can read it without too much of a struggle over language. While it is not harmful to read a translation Bible, it is important to know the difference between versions and translations. Only versions go back to the actual original text to translate them forward into modern language. This can be an important distinction when it comes to accuracy in the text.

When you study, it is a good idea to have something to take notes. It is helpful to keep a journal. Journaling records progress and can be a source of encouragement when you are feeling low. Many new journals have a space at the front for an index. If you list your prayers by page number, you can easily go to specific ones as God answers them, update them, and reflect.

If you are not opposed to writing in your Bible, it is a good idea to have Bible-safe pens and highlighters to mark Scriptures that stand out to you. Because Bible pages are usually thin and printed on both sides, you want a highlighter specially made for it. Anything else will bleed through to the other side of the page. Bible highlighters are available at any major book store. Safe writing pens are also available.

If you are finding yourself studying on the move, consider screenshoting what you read and type your notes in a writing app on your phone.

Need a Plan?

If you learn best by having a plan to follow, you are in good company. Most readers respond well to being told a given plan of verses to read through a specific frame of time. There are even Bibles organized to read them in chronological order.

Many Bible reading apps offer free reading plans. Here is a link to a free reading plan from Billy Graham ministries.

Do you connect to better to music than writing?

If music is your thing, consider downloading the free app, Verses.

Verses gives you scripture in theme-based playlists. Most of the songs have a gentle, folksy acoustic style, and they are sung by talented artists. It is a good way to get scriptures stuck in your memory. A reader is also available to audio read the Bible.

Final Thoughts

Reading the Bible is all about connecting with God on a daily basis and inviting Him into our everyday lives.

The goal is to hear from God and find direction and comfort for your personal situation.

The most important tool you have to accomplish that is your consistency.

Overcome your fear and doubt by turning the page and doing the work.

From Genesis to Revelation, God’s Word is your guide to abundant living–so do not neglect it.

Charles F. Stanley, “Jesus, Our Perfect Hope”

Why Creativity is Important in a Classroom

The Lascaux Paleolithic cave paintings in southwestern of France are famous. They join neighboring painted caves on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. These paintings are significant because they are over 20,000 years old and contain images of animals that used to be native to the region but are no longer there. They are evidence of an important part of our history, but they are also a testament to the power of creativity.

There was no real life-altering purpose for painting in the caves. One could suggest that the caveman would have been better served spending his time hunting and gathering, discovering fire, or creating a wheel. Nevertheless, history shows us that it was the man that created art that survived. Why is that?

Creativity is unalienable tied to our evolutionary history and success as a species.

Think of a baby that is just learning to walk. In the beginning, you can see the little worry lines of thought cross their foreheads as they weigh out the possible consequences of moving from squat to stand to first steps. In those first moments, creativity accesses a part of our brains that challenges us and enables us to problem-solve. We learn and grow as we take on new tasks. Not all creativity serves the same purpose. Some exist merely for the beauty of it or the challenge of accomplishing it.

Creativity and Innovation (5)

Nevertheless, each opportunity we take advantage of to create something new, we empower our brains to accomplish more work.

 

Creative thinking is essential to success.

Creativity and Innovation (7)

We often think about problem-solving and creativity in terms of invention, but that is not the only place where it is needed. More and more, we are seeing employers require creativity in everyday job tasks like maintenance and cleaning. Creative thinking enables workers to manage multiple demands on their schedules while also being sensitive to the needs around them like a family sleeping in the room you are supposed to clean.

Creativity empowers students with learning differences.

The brain is a powerful and interesting machine. It is more active than a thigh muscle during a marathon and it can help us creatively maneuver around problems. Such is the case with many people with learning differences who achieve success daily by developing coping skills around their differences. The ability to adapt so readily creates long-term success for them. According to a study reported in the New York Times, 35% of entrepreneurs are dyslexic in America. That number is higher than in other countries. You can read the New York Times article to find out more about it here.

Creativity and Innovation (6)

Images from Jeff Goodman, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Appalachian State University

How Can I Bring This Home In The Classroom?

Being creative is a process of trial and error in the classroom. Your goal should be to always keep the class interesting and exciting. Don’t be afraid to try new things, and don’t be afraid to ask your students for honest feedback.

If you care about getting something across to your class, put extra emphasis on it through personal stories, visuals, activities, etc. A lot of times we are so focused on covering the material we are supposed to cover in our lesson plan that we don’t even care about making sure that the students are actually getting it. Try asking them what they remember the next day after you taught it to them. Would you like to be a student in your class? If you don’t think you’d enjoy being a student in your own class, why should they?  

–Jeff Goodman, Instructor at Appalachian State University

Another approach could be to establish an atmosphere where students are able to question material and decide for themselves what they need to learn. I leave you with Danez Smith’s experiences on this subject.