Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Studying the Bible

As requested, here is an overview of what we talked about on Sunday regarding studying Scripture:

Materials needed: 1) A Bible translated into your "heart" language; regarding English translations, I prefer the NIV or the NRSV but the NKJV, NLT, NASB, and ESV are all good too (as are many others); the question to ask yourself is this: Do I prefer translation that are word-for-word, thought-for-thought, or some combination of the two?; Don't just buy the one that looks cool, do a bit of research first!; 2) pen and paper (or your computer); 3) a concordance (or and internet connection hooked up to; and 4) a one-volume commentary of the Bible (or an internet connection that will give you access to solid information [more on this in the coming weeks]) and/or a Bible with study notes

First Step - Pray: Ask the Holy Spirit to be with you as you study God's Word.

Second Step - Choose a Passage: We talked about how this can happen organically, that is, during your devotional Bible reading you may find a passage that you find interesting or confusing; make a note of it so that you can study it later; and by "passage" I mean a paragraph or a story, not (necessarily) one verse or one word

Third Step - Read the Passage Quickly: Read your text quickly out loud and ask yourself this: What is this passage about? Write down your answer(s). Don't use any helps yet.

Fourth Step - Read the Passage Slowly: Now look at your text in more detail (which may meant that you need to read many times) and ask yourself these questions: Is there anything that I find confusing?, What transition words (therefore, thus, moreover, etc) are being used in this passage?, What are the keywords (words that are used a lot or that are especially meaningful to your passage)?, Does this text bring up any questions for me?, and What genre (poetry, narrative, letter, etc) is this text? Write down your questions and any possible answers that you can think of during this step. Don't use any helps yet.

Next week we'll talk about the next steps, some of which will may require the use of outside helps. I'll also be providing some book suggestions and internet links to things that might prove to be helpful.

God bless!

Oh, I almost forgot. Next week (9/13) is not the last week that we'll be talking about this. We'll also discuss it the following week (9/20) and we'll practice on a few passages. The last Sunday in September, the 27th, we'll have the "State of Crossroads" meeting where we'll hopefully introduce our new leadership team, talk about the past year, and discuss plans going forward. Thanks!

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