Bible Study

You Really Can Start Reading Your Bible: Tips and Testimony from a Middle Schooler

Saved from Near

As a just-turned 14 year old, I have been going to church my whole life.  However, I didn’t experience a relationship with God until I was in middle school, even though I was baptized at age 6. It was at my first church camp in 6th grade that I discovered that true joy comes from God and nothing else in the world. That’s when I truly started my faith walk and committed to following Him.

Testing of Faith

But having faith wasn’t always easy. I have had hard times and I know there will be hard times ahead. Through my difficult experiences, God showed me ways to encourage myself and others. I found a family in my church youth group, and was able to go early every week to help wherever I was needed. Serving others, seeing them smile and appreciate what I do, made me so happy. No matter what stress was in my mind at the time, I just felt loved. I also found so many friends at church who encourage me in everything. They have held my hand while I cry happy tears and sad tears. As I walked my walk of faith, the raw and vulnerable way, God gifted me with wise people, good family members who care for me, and challenging questions that have caused me to grow. He showed me how I needed to pray more and worry less, and prayer became my communication with God. Even with all of this, I just felt ready for more. I’d been feeling a little distant from my faith during online school, so on whim decided to start reading my Bible.

Knowing His Word

I had always viewed reading my Bible as insignificant or too hard to me. But as I committed to reading, it started to become a daily habit and I felt God spurring me on. I never really realized how much I would love it, and how much joy and peace it would bring to my life.

I totally understand how reading your Bible can feel like another item on your to-do list, but it’s not supposed to be a chore. Digging into the Word is a gift from God, and that time is meant to be cherished. Getting into a daily habit requires patience – It’s like getting strong in sports or learning a new skill. If you want to get good at it, you need to be willing to commit to actively making the effort to form a new habit.

Remember, through your journey, that reading your Bible doesn’t have to look one specific way. Everyone has different preferences and ways on how they get into the Bible. How you read, take notes, and learn will be different for everyone. That’s totally ok! It’s intimate and unique because it’s how God wants you to comprehend His love.

Here are some strategies and ideas I used to start reading and understanding the Word on my own.

Ways to Engage with the Word of God
How to Get Into Your Bible Idea #1

This is the strategy I use:

  • Open your Bible to the table of contents.

  • Then go through each book, writing down books that you want to read, names you recognize, or a title that sparks your interest. Don’t worry about getting all the books you want written down, just start with the first ones that catch your eye.

  • Choose one book that you wrote down and read the first chapter, or even a few sentences, just read at your own pace.

  • Highlight questions, add notes to the margins, or underline things or people that are familiar. But just read, annotate, and ask questions. Find a style of note-taking that works for you. Don’t be afraid to use a journal if that works better for notes, instead of writing in your actual Bible.

The way I do my study is to highlight wisdom or things that make sense, write questions and notes in the margins, and always read a chapter a day. The reason this works so well for me is because I get to choose what to read, what I note, and what to ask. Being a person who likes being able to choose how I spend time with God makes my time much more fruitful.

How to Get Into Your Bible Idea #2

Accountability is a huge part of reading your Bible. Here are some ways that help keep your attention in the word:

  • If you are in online school, and start later in the day, make the first piece of work you do reading your Bible.

  • Text a trustworthy friend, small group leader, or adult. Ask them to check in with you daily, asking if you have read your Bible.

  • Set a few alarms on your device. Try to keep yourself responsible to stay on schedule and read around the alarm time.

  • If you plan your days in any way, add Bible reading to your day. Pick a time to give your undivided attention to the Bible. I read my Bible either in the morning before the day gets busy or in the afternoon when I find some alone time.

Don’t beat yourself up if you have a hard time getting into a rhythm of actively and daily opening your Bible. Let yourself into it slowly and let God do the teaching.

How to Get Into Your Bible Idea #3

It’s ok not to know what to do, sometimes you have to let go of your need to have the answer and let God decide what you are going to read. This is hard, no doubt about it, but we all have to start somewhere.

  • Take time to pray. Ask God for help to give you a fruitful time. Wherever God wants you to be in the Bible, He will make it clear.

  • Open your Bible and begin reading the page wherever the first word pops out. Keep in mind that all Scripture is God breathed. Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Reflect on that verse.

If you happen upon a passage that doesn’t make much sense, pray. Ask to see if that is where you need to be, sometimes you need to read tricky things, but just ask for the guidance of God.

Finally, if you aren’t finding anything that interests you, open to Genesis 1:1 to learn about creation. If you love a good story open to Ruth 1:1. If you are looking for poetry and wisdom open to Proverbs 8:6-23. And if you are looking for answers about Jesus, look to Matthew 19:13-15.

The Benefit of Children’s Bibles

Have you ever read something in the Bible and thought, “Well, that was so confusing. I don’t think I’ll ever make sense of this book.” I know I definitely have. But I’ve found a hidden gem that has helped me understand the Bible incredibly, and it’s… a kids Bible. I have an Adventure Bible and HCSB Illustrated Study Bible for kids. They are so explanatory and have many underrated sources.

In my Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) there are colored maps, timelines, and pages that explain what a quiet time is and how different Bible verses can help with your different feelings. There are also charts that show how verses relate to different topics. This Bible helps me find things quickly and helps me learn how to really get the most from the Word.

My Adventure Bible has some helpful pages that help understanding the words on the page you’re reading. It has summaries of peoples’ lives, excerpts about what life was like in Bible times, tips for living out the Word, and highlighted sections with verses to treasure. I love this Bible because it explains and highlights the words right in front of you.

Both of these Bibles are simplified. If parts of my NIV don’t make sense, I gladly turn to my children’s Bible or my colored maps and timelines. They help me understand what I’m reading and learn what God needs me to know in that scripture.

My point is that kid’s Bibles have benefits for adults too! And any age for that matter! Don’t be afraid to look into a children’s Bible to seek an answer, simpler text, or new fact.

Kate’s Suggested Resources

 

About the Author, Kate Kesler:

I’m Kate, a creator at heart. I have a passion for baking, music, and Jesus.

 

Not Sure What Bible Study To Do This Fall? 11 Ideas to Get You Started

It’s the time of year when individuals, small groups and churches commit to Bible study curriculum for the upcoming Fall season, but finding theologically sound resources to accommodate a particular timeline, group dynamic/need, or topic can be difficult. We know many of you might be studying alone at home or with kids around while social distancing and supervising school. We want to help!

Below is a list of options we think will help women better understand the Word, the character of God, and the purpose He has for our lives. Each one varies in terms of time commitment, depth of study, and suitability for group/independent learning, so we tried to provide some helpful notes to guide your decision. This list is not at all exhaustive, but we hope it will serve as a launching point for upcoming studies. You can find more of our suggestions by linking to last year’s ideas here.

If you do choose to use one of the resources listed below, click directly on the image or title to view and purchase the resource from Amazon. We earn a small commission if you do, and every little bit helps us minister to women.

You can find more of our suggested books, studies, Bibles, and even resources for children by clicking here.

 

Bible Study for Busy Mama’s: Thirty Days 1 Corinthians 13 

  • Author: Pam Forster
  • Timeline: 30 Days
  • Homework: 5-15 minutes per day with options to go deeper
  • Video: No
  • Additional Insight: This is a great way for anyone (you don’t have to be a mom or even particularly busy to glean from these studies), but ideal for women homeschooling/supervising remote learning this Fall. This study is geared towards moms with little ones at home and includes activities/suggestions for involving them in what you’re learning. For more in this series, click here.

 

Matchless: The Life and Love of Jesus

  • Author: Angie Smith
  • Timeline: 7 Weeks / Sessions
  • Homework: 2-3 hours per week
  • Video: Yes, but not necessary
  • Additional Insight: This study has just been released, so none of us on the Arise team has had a chance to finish it, yet. That said, we absolutely loved Angie’s other study, Seamless, so have faith that this one will be theologically sound and a great resource as well.

 

 

Jude: Contending for the Faith in Today’s Culture

  • Author: Jackie Hill Perry
  • Timeline: 7 Weeks / Sessions
  • Homework: 1-3 hours per week
  • Video – Yes. Not necessary, but strongly suggested. Each episode is 8-20 minutes long and can be rented or purchased from Lifeway.
  • Additional Insight: A teen version of this study is also available.

 

 

 

Lord, Teach Me to Pray in 28 Days

  • Author: Kay Arthur
  • Timeline: 28 Days /4 Weeks
  • Homework: 2-3 hours per week
  • Video: No
  • Additional Insights: This is an all-time favorite for a few of us on the Arise team. It’s a great independent study, but also has questions in the back for use with a group. We strongly recommend this one, and love doing it alongside others for accountability.

 

 

Living Victoriously in Difficult Times

  • Author: Kay Arthur, Bob & Diane Vereen
  • Timeline: 6 Weeks / Sessions
  • Homework: 1 hour per week (see Additional Insights below)
  • Video: No
  • Additional Insights: This is designed to be completed as a group with all of the work/discussion taking place together over a 40 minute period together. We suggest allowing more time to go through the study in a group format (at least 75-90) OR asking participants to complete the 40 minutes of content individually before coming together to discuss. This study is also suitable for independent use.

 

I Am Found: Quitting the Game of Hide and Seek with God and Others

  • Author: Laura Dingman
  • Timeline: 6  Weeks / Sessions
  • Homework: 2 hours per week
  • Video: No
  • Additional Insights: This is a topical study about issues surrounding shame and identity. It’s less of an in-depth Bible study, but uses Scripture to lead women on a journey toward healing and surrender. It’s suitable for individual use or study with a trusted group of women.

 

 

All Things New: A Study on 2 Corinthians

  • Author: Kelly Minter
  • Timeline: 8 Weeks / Sessions
  • Homework: 2-3 hours per week
  • Video: Yes – Helpful, but not necessary.

 

 

 

 

What Matters Most: A Study of Philippians

  • Author: Karen Ehman
  • Timeline: 7 Weeks / Sessions
  • Homework: 2 hours per week
  • Video: Yes

 

 

 

 

Illuminated Bible Journals  (ESV)

  • Author: Published by Crossway
  • Timeline: Varies depending on which book you choose to study
  • Additional Insight: These Bible journals are amazing! Scripture is printed on one side, with lined pages on the other for your observations and notes. There are large margins for marking the text and recording insights. We suggest reading about Inductive Bible Study and printing our downloadable resources to help you work through the text. The book of James would be a great place to start, but journals for each book of the Bible are available.

 

We also love Precept Upon Precept and Bible Study Fellowship classes. These are facilitated by trained instructors all over Canada and the USA. Click on the links below to find one near you.

 

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