Nothing else has shaped my life (save God himself) like Bible study. Part of my testimony is that I have been able to overcome severe depression. As a teen I was very self destructive (doing everything hurting teen girls do) and medication and counseling were not able to help me. Even after giving my heart to Jesus at age 20 I continued to struggle with depression, anxiety and very low self-esteem. God showed me that He is powerful to help us overcome any mountain that we face. Those issues still pop up but today I am living with a great deal of freedom and joy. I still have room to grow (which feels more exciting than daunting) but I have come so far. How? But studying my bible. I’ve been able to live victoriously over crippling mental illness through the Word of God.
The Word of God is:
- living and active- Hebrews 4:12
- able to transform and renew our minds- Romans 12:2
- contains the power of God unto salvation- Romans 1:16
- flawless- Psalm 18:30
- our sword to overcome the attacks of the enemy- Ephesians 6:17
- God-breathed- 2 Timothy 3:16
- containing the essence of God himself- John 1:1
The Bible says that people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Hosea 4:6 Even Jesus used the Word to fight his battles. Matthew 4 We need to know the Word of God. It is our life. This is the one book that can completely transform you from the inside out. This is the way God has chosen to reveal himself to us. God has given us so many promises and blessings but we will not appropriate them if we don’t know about them. I could go on and on, but thankfully for you- I won’t. Just to say that the Word of God is powerful. It literally has completely changed my life.
I know it can be intimidating to start studying, so I want to share some practical tips that have helped me…
First- pick a translation that speaks to you. I’ve read the NIV, the NLT, the Good News translation, the NKJV, and the ISV. When I study the Bible I like to do it on my tablet through kindle. I can cross-reference the ISV (what I am currently reading) with other versions. I also really love my NIV study bible. The NIV is probably the easiest and most accessible translation.
Make a commitment. Set your alarm. Keep a ‘date’ with God every morning or the time that works for you. No excuses. 🙂 I am a morning person so I get up around 5:30 for my favorite time of the day. Just me, God, the Word, and my dark roast.
Pray your way through. You’re not reading the newspaper. This is holy text; written through the Holy Spirit and grasped through the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:20 I always pray- Lord, help me to understand it, believe it, and act on it.
When I come across a passage that I don’t understand, I investigate. I read other translations for insight. I google. 😉 One of my favorite websites is http://www.gotquestions.org/ They have solid answers to any conceivable question. I also love http://www.biblehub.com you can read multiple translations and even study the original Hebrew or Greek. Years ago, when I was feeling called to more intense Bible-study, I thought I would have to invest tons of $ for extensive concordances and commentaries. Not so. There are so many free online resources. And the best resource is completely free-
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” John 16:13 Don’t worry so much about what a scripture meant to a guy who lived 200 years ago. God wants to speak to you through it today.
A good starting place is the New Testament. I mostly stayed there for years. Only recently have I really been studying the Old Testament. It’s a journey. Don’t stress about what you don’t know. Just dive in.
I also listen to many great Bible teachers. We have a local station, Faith 900, that I listen to all the time. Often God coordinates what I have read with sermons I hear at church or on the radio. It is so indescribably awesome when God is speaking to you.
Keep plugging away at it. Sometimes change happens little by little. The important thing is to keep going. Get as much of the Word in you as possible. God’s word never returns void. Honestly; I spent many months reading through the entire Bible last year and it at times felt dull. I kept going just out of obedience. Now I am re-reading through it and it is like a light switch came on. It is coming to life for me. I feel like God is revealing things left and right. I have been walking with God for 8 years now. I am so thankful for all he has done in my life. I am so glad I have spent the time I have in the Word. It is the very best investment of your time that you can make.
“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God…the word of the Lord endures forever.” 1 Peter 1