The study of Scripture is a well-defined facet of the Christian life. It is integral to the ongoing growth of each individual. The Bible covers so much information from so many disciplines with so much impact that it can be overwhelming for many people about where and how to start. The effectiveness of it is increased when one has access to the right tools to aide that study.
Last week I started a series on effective resources for Bible Study. You can read the introductory post in the series here. Today I want to layout some of the physical tools that I find beneficial in my personal study.
Helpful, and for some people essential, are some simplistic tools that are helpful.
- The Right Pens: As an avid reader, I find it essential to interact with the books that I am reading. Scripture is the same way. As you read, interacting with the text is crucial. Making notes about key points, word definitions, and application is beneficial. However, marking in Bibles can be difficult because of the unique paper. Many pens are found to bleed through, while those that don’t often catch the paper and tear it. I have found that the Sakura Micron pens to be extraordinary for the specific task of writing in a Bible. For myself, I typically use the assorted colors 6-pack, but it is available in an 8-pack . . . or if you really want to add color to your Bible there is a massive 16-pack available.
- The Right Highlighters: The use of highlighters accentuates the use of pens. Each adds value to the Bible study experience in order to aid the quick recall of information. Yet like pens, finding highlighters that do not bleed through can be difficult. Years ago, a friend introduced me to ACCU-Gel Highlighters and they have become an essential tool in my Bible study toolbox.
- The Right Time: With almost the authority of Scripture, many people will assert that it is more biblical to read in the morning. While I will not discount the wisdom in giving God the first of what you have, I also recognize that for some this is not the best of the time. Find a time that works for you because the reality is, if morning doesn’t work for you, then you won’t be consistent anyway.
- The Right Place: Without overemphasizing this, I contend that finding the right place to study can be important. It’s not so much about the place as it is about minimizing interruptions and distractions. With so many things vying for attention, it is easy to let those creep in and monopolize our time with the Lord.
Used rightly these tools can be helpful in drawing out our meditation upon the Lord and his Word.
It goes without saying that a time in God’s Word needs God’s Word. An open Bible will open the mind. For our use a wide array of Bibles can be found. Suiting one’s own style, a person can find a Bible in a preferred version and preferred layout in order to enable a person’s Bible study.
There are three Bible layouts that I would recommend:
- Journaling Bibles: Journaling Bibles have become a popular tool. I enjoy them immensely myself. Having a Bible and journal combined into one resource is not only beneficial for practicality, but also for the recording of thoughts and information for later referencing.
- Reader’s Bibles: Crossway has released the ESV Reader’s Bibe, while not exclusively for the study or journaling, they can be found helpful in one’s own study. The Reader’s Bible attempts to remove many of the human-generated portions of Scripture such as headings and titles. By removing such aspects readers can focus on the text without pre-conceived notions about it.
- Premium Bibles: For some people, the use of a premium Bible is worthwhile. The premium Bibles enjoy a high quality paper in a variety of formats that make them beneficial for keeping notes from your own study. However, with such a high cost they are not for everyone. The advantage is that they are extremely durable and made to last. So reliable are they that each comes with a lifetime warranty. If a person uses their Bible regularly, it may be the way to go.
Because there are so many Bibles available, each offering their distinctive benefits and drawbacks, we can look at Bibles a bit more in depth next week.
A personal Bible study is just that, personal. Finding the right tools is dependent upon what works for you. They are not so much about the study, but simply about creating one’s own routine and comfort in order to focus better. For myself, it’s usually a good cup of coffee or tea, sometimes some white noise and a good fountain pen in hand.
While I have my own personal preferences, I want to share some tips that many not know are available:
- Ambiance: First, finding the right ambiance can be helpful. This of course is dependent upon you and what enables you.
- White Noise: I enjoy background noise whenever I study, read, or write. In fact, I find the ambiance of coffee shops to be helpful because of the background noise that they offer. With this in mind, there are websites that offer such white noise. Many people use Pandora (which has a channel called ‘Classical for Studying’). However one website, Coffitivity, offers noises of the coffee shop for when you are at home . . . they even offer up research to prove the benefits of such noise. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but if you enjoy those sounds they have three free versions or you can subscribe to get more. Want more? A search at Youtube for coffee shop noise will yield a litany of results in which you can pick and choose.
- Coffee: Last year, Biblical Ministries Worldwide launched a website with the help of some others called Coffee Helping Missions. This website directs 100% of the profits to missions. A portion supports a Bible translation project in Indonesia and the other portion goes to support specific missionaries of your choice. I think highly of this project because the coffee is high quality and tastes great, but it is also an opportunity to support missions. Many people drink coffee, but here is an opportunity to do something more while drinking that coffee. Furthermore, the coffee company that they have partnered with is owned and developed by a Christian family. Full disclosure: As a missionary with Biblical Ministries Worldwide, my family and I benefit from the work of coffeehelpingmissions.com when people order and designate their portion to us. While I do think highly of the coffee and of the project, it is important to recognize that I am not completely unbiased in this project.
Each of these is of course subjective to each individual.
As the study of Scripture is important, setting yourself up for success is crucial. One must maintain regularity and consistency in his or her own study. The hard tools that I have laid out here may not work for every person. They are ones that I have found beneficial for myself and have seen others as well. It is my hope that these tools will be beneficial to you as well.
Upcoming Posts in the Biblical Resource Series:
- Hard Copy Bibles
- Online Bibles
- Avoiding Distractions
- Bible Study Websites
- Tools for Hermeneutics
- Free Web-Based Commentaries
- Word Study Resources
Previous Posts in the Biblical Resource Series: