Learning to Listen
If you want to learn more about how you can recognize God’s voice and have a two-way conversation every day – while praying, reading Scripture, and listening – I encourage you to read Marilyn Hontz’s Listening for God: How an Ordinary Person Can Learn to Hear God Speak. It’s one of my favorites, and will be a book I review as I have time.
Daily Bible Reading
One way to read the Bible every day is a One-Year Bible. Typically set up with daily readings from the Old and New Testament, there are also those set up chronologically. The one I’ve read through several times is the chronological older version of the NLT.
If you prefer digital, Bible Gateway offers reading plans you can subscribe to. You can read through the Bible in a year, or choose smaller bites. The link is to the NIV, but you can choose from many other versions, including several in languages other than English.
I don’t read through the Bible every year. A wonderful method for daily devotional reading I borrow from Evelyn Christenson is reading until He speaks. You know how when you’re reading your Bible and something just stops you in your tracks? That! Wait for that every day. It may be a chapter or more, or as quickly as part of a verse. When you hear it, stop. Write it down. Highlight it. Journal it, which to me means write about it. Meditate on it. Whatever it takes to “hear” and apply the Truth He revealed. Here’s a quote from an interview she did for Revive Our Hearts Radio:
This is what I believe in my devotional reading. I only read until He speaks. The very first thing He says. I pray it through or confess, ask Him for it, whatever it might be in my devotional reading. Then I apply it.
I learned about Evelyn’s read-until-He-speaks devotional reading, how she studies the Bibles, and so much more in her book, Lord, Change Me. I highly recommend it.
Check out the Listen When He Speaks Scripture Reading and Writing Plan that launched January 1, 2017!
Wow, there’s no shortage of Bible study resources out there. One option is a study Bible; just be sure you use the study resources. There are also more Bible study books than I could hope to count. These can be about a particular section of the Bible, the book of John, for example; or topical, considering what the Bible has to say about a particular subject, like prayer. Ask your pastor or other trusted, mature Christian for suggestions. If you’re not yet, get involved with a Bible study small group. Be aware that sometimes group “Bible studies” can be more about what authors have to say about the Bible than about learning from the Bible itself; be aware of that when looking for personal study guidance, also.
Though I use an NLT Bible for daily devotional reading, I don’t typically use it for study. It can be a little too subjective in its design to interpret what was meant in a passage. It places less emphasis on the actual words than a more literal translation does. A great resource is a comparative, or parallel, Bible, with multiple translations side-by-side.
Another tool I love is the Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament. If I want to know the Greek from which a passage was translated, I can access it online, any time, for free on Bible Gateway. You can, too! Just type in the passage you want, choose Mounce as the version, and there it is – in English with the Greek words beneath. Just to be clear, I DON’T KNOW GREEK, BUT any Greek word I click on is defined for me. Check out John 3:16 here. If you click on agapaō, for example, there it is. Even cooler, click on “See everywhere agapaō appears in the New Testament via BillMounce.com” and YUP!! Wanting to know what the New Testament has to say on a subject, there you go! Love it!
I also have an old-school Strong’s Concordance, because I like BOOKS and I got a great deal on an older edition. Since I don’t typically study from the King James, it can be less than convenient, as I sometimes have to find how the KJV translated a particular word… but I still like it, and it’s handy for when I want to study (or write) offline.
It’s important to learn how to study the Bible for yourself, not just read what others have to say, as you do in a study Bible. Start with a clear mind, meaning don’t go in with preconceived ideas of what the passage means. Don’t read through the lens of your theology or church doctrine or pastor’s teaching. Pray for God to reveal Himself and teach you, and for an open heart and mind. Read a passage. Look at its context, including learning at least a bit of historical context (a great Bible for this is the Archaeological Study Bible). Look at what else the Bible has to say on the topic, starting with the Gospels and New Testament. The previously mentioned tools in this section are good for this.
A great book to help you really dig deep into what God is saying in a particular book of the Bible is David Thompson’s Bible Study That Works. I had the pleasure of studying it with the author, a professor at Asbury Theological Seminary, as a distance-learning student through the Wesleyan Church. You’d be surprised how much you can learn from the little book of Mark!
3/14/2017: I’ve been trying out the FREE Olive Tree Bible App on my Android phone and Kindle. It’s useful for both daily reading and study, with downloadable resources like reading plans, commentaries, study Bible notes, and Christian classics. Be aware that while the app, daily Bible reading plans, most Bible translations, and many other downloadable Bible study resources are free; many study resources and some translations are not free. Both free and paid resources can be downloaded from their online store to create you own digital Bible study library. Check it out!
Since I stepped into 21st century technology last September with a smart phone, I have enjoyed, and found very helpful, the FREE Android app, Bible Memory, Remember Me.
Wondering why I left out journaling?
Let me get back to you with an entire post on that!
In the meantime, check out Listen When He Speaks Scripture Reading and Writing Plan that launched right here on Fruit of Brokenness January 1, 2017!
How about you?
This list far from exhaustive. But I hope you’ve found something useful! I’ll come back to look at methods, too.
What books, apps, websites, or other Bible study resources do you find useful to learn, meditate on, and memorize God’s Word?