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Last week I shared with you my Three Step Bible Study Method. I promised a follow up post with three commentaries I recommend, so here it is! This list is by no means exhaustive. There are many great commentaries that can help you dig deeper into God’s Word, but if you don’t know where to start, these are three commentaries that I use and enjoy. If one of the commentaries in this post sparks your interest, you can click the title to find where to purchase it!

THE LIBERTY BIBLE COMMENTARY

This two volume commentary set is a great option for beginners. With one volume for the Old Testament and one for the New Testament, it has a slightly devotional feel to it.

PROS

– Easy to read.

– Mid-range price.

CONS

– Not as much content.

THE WYCLIFFE BIBLE COMMENTARY

This is a concise, one volume commentary on the whole Bible. It goes verse by verse giving all of the facts with none of the fluff.

PROS

– Sticks to the facts without devotional thoughts.

– Easy to read.

– A very affordable option.

CONS

– Not as much content; may need to reference other commentaries for clarification on some verses.

THE PULPIT COMMENTARY

This twenty-three volume commentary set is really the best of the best in my opinion. No matter how obscure the passage you are studying is, you’re sure to find insight in this commentary.

PROS

– Very extensive quality content.

CONS

– Definitely a more expensive option.

– Written on a higher reading level (this is not necessarily a con for me, but it may be for some).

 

I hope this will help you get started with using commentaries to deepen your Bible study. If you want more recommendations, check with your pastor or a Bible teacher in your church. I’m sure they would love to help you deepen your study of God’s Word!

Is there a Bible commentary that you use and love? Tell me about it in the comments!

 

You know you need to dig deeper into God’s Word, but you just don’t know where to start. You hear there are endless resources, but you honestly don’t know what they are! Sound familiar? This was me not too long ago. I had a great daily Bible reading habit. I even had a degree from a Bible college! But I still felt clueless about truly studying the Bible for myself. I’ve picked up some simple tools that have made a huge difference in my Bible study time, and I want to share with you my three step Bible study method that will help you dig into the Word of God just a little deeper.

READ

This one seems obvious, but it’s so important not to miss this first step! It’s easy to go to commentaries or devotionals when we start studying a passage. But the Spirit of God is living within us, and He wants to teach us the truths contained in the Word of God. Don’t get me wrong; I love commentaries and devotionals. I’ve even written two devotionals that go verse by verse through the Bible! But these need to stay in their proper place. If you want to study a book or passage, start by reading that passage over and over again. Read it a hundred times if you need to. Take notes on what the Lord is showing you. When you feel like you know the passage backwards and forwards, move to the next step.

DEFINE WORDS

The Bible was written thousands of years ago, so it makes sense that some words and concepts may not make complete sense to us, even in our English translation. There are two ways we can define words to help give us a better understanding.

LOOK UP ENGLISH DEFINITIONS

If there’s a word you don’t fully understand in English, look it up! Whether you use a dictionary app or an old-fashioned paper dictionary, looking up the meaning of words in English will help you gain a better understanding of the passage.

LOOK UP THE WORD IN THE ORIGINAL LANGUAGE

If you understand a word in English, but its use in the passage still seems unclear, look up the word in the original language. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and the New Testament was written in Greek. Understanding how these words were used in their original context can help clarify the meaning of a passage. I like using the Blue Letter Bible app for this.

COMMENTARIES

Once you’ve gained a clear understanding through your own reading and through looking up words, it’s time to read the words of other people to continue to deepen our understanding. I’m thankful for men and women who have dedicated their lives to studying the Bible and have preserved their knowledge in books. There are many options for good commentaries; ask a pastor or Bible teacher you trust for their recommendations. Next week on the blog, I’ll be talking about three commentaries I recommend.

 

These three practices have made such a difference in the depth of my Bible study. I hope they will be a blessing to you as well. If you want to learn about more tools for studying the Bible, I highly recommend Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin.

 

What Bible study tools do you use? Tell me in the comments!

 

You pick up your Bible for the four-thousandth day in a row and wonder, “Why am I doing this? Is it really making a difference?” I’ve been there. It’s easy to wonder if our time in God’s Word is really making a difference as we continue to be faithful day after day. Satan wants us to remain discouraged in our walks with the Lord, but we must persevere in encouraging ourselves in the Lord. If you need a little extra encouragement today, I want to share with you some thoughts on faithfulness. I want to encourage you to commit to a lifetime of faithfulness in walking with God when you don’t feel like it, when you don’t see results, and when no one sees.

WHEN YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE IT

There have been many times when I haven’t felt like reading my Bible, but I did it anyway. For a long time, I would have been embarrassed to admit that, believing that it made me a hypocrite. But it’s completely normal to have days (or weeks or months) in which you just don’t feel like reading God’s Word. You may be in a particularly exhausting season of life (hello, motherhood), or you may be going through a season of discouragement and depression. Spending time with the Lord is relationship building, and relationship building can be exhausting! Be faithful in your time with the Lord anyway. He will speak the words of hope into your heart that you so desperately need.

WHEN YOU DON’T SEE RESULS

Even when God is speaking those words of hope into your heart, you may not see the results that you’re longing for from your time with Him. But our time with God isn’t a magic formula to fix all of our problems. It’s a daily time of growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord. If you have a season when your time in God’s Word feels fruitless, remember that His Word will never return void. He is sowing seeds in your heart that will bloom into a fruitful life lived for Him.

WHEN NO ONE SEES

We have become spoiled to instant affirmation. We make a post on Facebook or Instagram, and we see the likes come pouring in. We bask in the approval of others, but our time with the Lord takes place in the quiet where nobody sees. It’s hard to be faithful in something when there’s no praise to be had in the end, but this is where faithfulness counts the most. It doesn’t matter if anybody ever notices my faithfulness. When I get to the end of my life, I want to hear God say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” So today I ask myself, do I want a moment of fame or a lifetime of faithfulness?

 

Does this mean you’ll never feel like it, never see results, and never receive encouragement from anyone to keep being faithful in your walk with the Lord? Of course not! There will be many seasons that are marked by a hunger for God’s Word, and you’ll feel like you can never get enough. You’ll see growth as you continue in faithfulness day after day, and God will send people into your life to encourage you to keep going. If you’re reading this, let me be one of those people today. Keep going. Your faithfulness will be worth it. And when you finally meet God face to face, you’ll be glad you spent your life getting to know Him.

 

I started writing notes in the margins of my Bible around the time I was thirteen. I wanted to remember the things I was learning! Occasionally I would write a date to go with my note if the date felt significant at the time, but most of the time I just jotted little notes. Over the last couple of years, I’ve started to write a date next to every note I make in my Bible. There are two reasons why I believe it would be helpful for you to do the same.

REMEMBER HOW GOD’S WORD SUSTAINED YOU FOR A SEASON

When I look back on the notes in my Bible, it’s helpful to see how God used His Word to speak to me in a particular season of life. If I didn’t write the date, I would have no context for what the application may have been to my life at the time I made a note. It’s a blessing to look back on my notes that are dated during the time my dad was in the hospital, or when we were preparing to move from Utah to Tennessee. If I hadn’t written down the date, I wouldn’t be able to remember how God’s Word specifically sustained me through those situations.

REALIZE HOW GOD’S WORD PREPARED YOU FOR A SEASON

God uses His Word to prepare us for the things that are yet to come in our lives. It’s exciting to be able to look back and see how God was speaking to me shortly before He brought my husband into my life. Or I can find comfort in the things God was working in my heart about in the days before my grandfather passed away. Even if this today doesn’t feel significant, write the date anyway. You may be able to look back and see that God knew what was coming in your life before you even had a clue. You will be able to see how He was preparing you for the good times and the hard times through your daily time in His Word.

 

It can also be helpful to keep a journal to remember what’s happening in your life so you can look back on those dates. One line a day journals are a great way to start! Do you write dates in your Bible? Do you have any other ways that help you remember how God has worked in your life? Tell me about them in the comments!

 

I was sixteen when I realized I had never read the whole Bible. I said I believed what the Bible said, but I didn’t really know what it said! It wasn’t for lack of trying that I hadn’t read it; I had started “ read through the Bible in a year” plans time and time again, but I would always get behind and end up quitting altogether. I usually made it to Leviticus or Numbers before quitting. One time I made it all the way to Joshua! 

When I decided it was finally time for me to read through the whole Bible for the first time, I knew those “Bible in a year” plans weren’t going to work. If those plans haven’t worked for you either, I want to share with you the method I used to successfully read through the Bible for the first time.

WRITE DOWN THE BOOKS YOU HAVEN’T READ

Chances are, you’ve read some of the books of the Bible. When I set out to read the whole Bible, I had already read the first five books multiple times. I had read many books from the New Testament, and I loved reading the Psalms. But the books in the middle like Ezekiel? I probably hadn’t read a single verse from them!

If you want to read the entire Bible, don’t start with books you’ve already read because, well, you’ve already read them! Once you read the books you haven’t read, you will have read the whole Bible.

Write down all the books you haven’t read (or aren’t sure if you’ve read the whole thing) on a Post-it Note and put it in the front of your Bible. Use as many Post-it Notes as you need! This is your list of books to read.

PICK A BOOK AND READ THROUGH IT

It’s honestly not important that you read the Bible cover to cover (although you may want to do this at some point). The Bible isn’t in chronological order; it’s organized by type of book (poetry, prophecy, history, etc.). All the books work together to tell the complete story of God’s redemption of mankind, but they can be read as stand alone books. The first time you’re going through the Bible, don’t worry about going in order. Pick a book from your list that you’re interested in, and read through it. When you’re done, cross it off the list and move on to another book!

GO AT A SLOW PACE

Reading through the Bible in a year is great, and it’s honestly not that difficult for me anymore. But the first time I read through my Bible, it was difficult. I was reading these books for the first time, and I had to go much more slowly to fully take in what they were saying.

If you’re just starting out, go at a slow pace. I just read one chapter a day to start. You may want to set a timer and just read for five minutes a day. Use washi tape or a small Post-it Note to mark your place when you’re done! 

You won’t read through the Bible in a year this way, but you will read through it. As you become more familiar with what the Bible says, you’ll easily be able to read it through in a year, but you don’t need to do this your very first time. Even a few minutes of reading a day will help you grow in your relationship with God and your understanding of His truth.

 

If you follow these steps, you will eventually work your way through the whole Bible. Once you’ve read all the books, you may want to start at the beginning and read it from beginning to end. Or maybe you’ll want to do a chronological reading plan! The options are endless, and God’s Word is limitless in its ability to speak into our lives and change us into the image of the One who breathed it into existence.

Do you have any more tips for reading through the Bible for the first time? I would love to hear about them in the comments!