I get questions from time to time on how to study the Bible. There are a variety of methods and techniques that one could use, but one of my favorites is the example below. I enjoy this method because it can be used as devotional and study. I have a few points first and then the example from Philippians 2:10-18 after that.
Points to Consider:
First, pray. This is the first step because it is the Holy Spirit who will bring the Word to life. If you skip this step then go back to it. Actually, it is not the first step it is the continual step. As you read and study keep praying. One of my most prayed prayers is “Lord help.”
Read a section continual section of Scripture. It does not have to be an entire book or chapter (although that is awesome) but it should be a large enough section of Scripture that you can see how a section of verses tie together. I always suggest for those starting out that you take a verse that challenges you and then add 5 or so verses on both sides. This way you get a better idea of the context.
Next is if you do not have a Bible commentary on that book, a whole Bible commentary, or a Bible with study notes then use a website like Bible.org or alternatively you can Google a verse and look for commentaries on that verse. You do not need to agree with every commentary you read nor should you but it is a good idea to see what the different interpretations of a verse are. If you can check multiple translations as well.
Lastly, use the cross-references in your Bible. If you are reading your Bible and a verse has a little letter or number with another book/chapter/verse then look that up in your Bible. I have learned a lot just using that.
Now just grab a pen and paper or your keyboard and write down the verse and what you observe through your reading, praying and studying. Don’t worry about being profound or deep or even amazing just study the Bible. The goal is to grow closer to God personally. If you get something worth sharing then share but that should not be the goal. Most of what I write stays between me and God. Actually what is below is from my own personal time but for your sake, I share so you have an example.
10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow— of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth
Jesus’s rule is over all of heaven and earth. He is Lord over all He created.
11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Today not everyone confesses Jesus as Lord, but there will come a day when Jesus returns that everyone will say that Jesus is Lord. To confess Jesus as Lord gives the Father glory. When as a human father I hear someone brag on my kids I am not only pleased but I am honored because someone else loves what is closest to my heart.
12 So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Working our your salvation does not mean to earn your salvation because Paul expressly says in other places like Romans 8:3 that we cannot earn salvation. Instead what we are working out is our place in Christ (Colossians 3:3), the effects of our salvation (Romans 6:8-11; Galatians 2:20), and our new nature (Colossians 3:12).
13 For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.
God called us (John 15:16) and has prepared works for us to do. He has placed the desire in us to do good according to Jeremiah 31:31-34.
14 Do everything without grumbling and arguing,
God is not opposed to you bringing your frustrations to Him. In fact, He tells us to cast our cares on Him because He cares (1 Peter 5:7), but grumbling is different. Grumbling is what children do when they are asked to do something and instead of just doing it they complain. Grumbling is what the people did in the desert. Grumbling says after crossing the red sea “this is hard let’s go back.”
15 so that you may be blameless and pure children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.
By not complaining you show how you are different and that you belong to God. If everyone around you complains about everything and you just keep moving and trusting God you show you are different. Having faith that His ways are right makes you stand out.
16 Hold firmly to the message of life. Then I can boast in the day of Christ that I didn’t run or labor for nothing.
In a world that has shifting and ever changing ideas and loyalties, we are called to hold firm to the words of life.
17 But even if I am poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.
Trials come. There should be no question about that. Hard times are inevitable and we need to expect that. Sometimes hard times come because we make foolish choices, sometimes hard times come because other people make bad choices, and sometimes it is just because we live in a fallen and sinful world. Jesus said that He has overcome the world (John 16:33) and we should never forget that. Yes, hard times come in this world but Jesus has overcome the world.
18 In the same way you should also be glad and rejoice with me.
The hardest thing to do when faced with difficulty is to rejoice. When we are being pressed like grapes for our faith how do we rejoice? Where do we find the strength to rejoice in the midst of suffering? We find it in Christ. Jesus has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He is our ever-present help in time of need (Psalm 46:1).
Just a thought,