Understanding the Bible

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. – Psalm 119:105

Let’s Think about It . . .

I believe that learning to study your Bible is about the most exciting thing you could ever do. But a lot of people don’t really know how to study the Bible. They aren’t even sure how to get started. Should you read the Bible like a regular book, from front to back? Should you underline or highlight in your Bible? And what about this journaling thing that seems to be really popular? Should that be a part of your Bible study?

Let’s Get into It . . .

Most people struggle to understand the Bible when they read it. There are a lot of good reasons for this. The Bible was written a long time ago, so the people and places and events seem kind of strange. It was a different culture back then. The language was different. And a lot has happened historically since the Bible was written. I personally struggled with Bible reading early on, mostly because I didn’t understand the style of writing in the King James Version translation. I was young and could not relate. I also didn’t understand how to study my Bible in a way that would help me get to know God. In Bible study or youth group, the teacher would explain the stories, which helped, but they weren’t with me every time I read my Bible, which discouraged me. When I learned how to invite God into my reading time, everything changed for me.

Let’s Learn . . .

The main reason we should want to read our Bibles is that the Bible is God’s Word. It’s like a personal letter or text message to us about the past and how it applies to right now and the future. Life can get hard at times, especially as we get older and have more responsibilities and experience more things. We all need the direction of God’s Word when we’re figuring out how to get through tricky situations or make hard decisions. When we read the Bible and learn about Jesus, we learn to see things the way Jesus sees them. The Bible gives us hope and power to defeat the lies and temptations of this world.

There is something amazing about reading and studying God’s Word on our own as we sit down with our Bible (which could be an actual book or a phone app or even an audiobook version of the Bible), study tools (pens or pencils, a notebook or journal), and the Holy Spirit. And after we spend time alone with God, studying his Word, we are able to understand the Bible better. This means we will be able to talk with other believers about God. Reading and falling in love with the Bible is the foundation for change in us and in others. Studying God’s Word will give us the tools we need to live our lives the way Jesus wants us to.

Imagine going on a family walk at night. It would be scary if you failed to bring a light to see where you were going. But if you brought a flashlight or headlamp or used the light on your phone, you could see what was in front of you. That light could save you from stepping on dog poop, slipping on ice, tripping over the uneven sidewalk, and so many other things that could harm you. 

God’s Word protects us in the same way. The Bible’s teaching is like a flashlight to our feet in the dark. It helps us navigate our way through life and avoid the things that can trip us up. We need God’s Word in our lives daily. If we commit to reading our Bibles and learning more about the Lord, the hunger and desire to know him better will grow. 

And when you read your Bible, don’t just read it to read it. Read it to understand and apply it to your everyday life. 

God wants us to not just read the Bible. He also wants us to study his Word and apply it to our lives in a practical way. We are to think deeply about what he says and store his words in our hearts.

Let’s Talk about It . . .

What is it about the Bible that confuses you the most? What do you want to understand better? What does it mean to apply what we learn in the Bible to our daily lives?

Let’s Pray . . .

Dear God,

Thank you for giving us your Word—the Bible. Help us not only to read our Bibles but also to put your words into action so they can change our lives and the lives of others. Amen.

Let’s Act . . .

* Go for a family night walk. Bring a source of lighting—a flashlight, a headlamp, a phone light—but spend some of the time trying to walk without the light. When you get home, talk about walking in the light versus walking in the darkness. What happened? How did you feel? Which do you think is the best way to walk—with or without the light?

* Read a portion of the Scriptures and then watch a televised version on that part of the Bible to help bring God’s Word to life. Check out YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, or any other online video streaming sources to find a good version. I recommend The Bible Project (www.bibleproject.com) and RightNow Media (www.rightnowmedia.org) as great resources to check out.

* Choose a weekly verse for your family to practice saying and memorizing throughout the week. At the end of the week, select a time for everyone in the family to recite the verse. (Younger kids could draw a picture or say a few key words from the verse.) If you recite the verse word for word, you win a prize. Or if the entire family nails the verse, you all go out for dinner or dessert or do something fun together.

* Find a Bible version that everyone in your family likes and can understand. A few we really like that work well for most ages are The Message paraphrase, the New Living Translation, and the Contemporary English Version. The New International Version and the English Standard Version are great version for adults. When you’re studying the Bible, take your time and read it slowly. Don’t rush through the words. Read out loud if it helps you retain the information better. Then ask lots of questions, such as, Who is this about? What is happening? Where does it take place? When in history did this happen? What else is going on?

* When you’re reading the Bible and trying to get all you can out of it, remember this helpful acrostic (STUDY):


Take your time


Decide to apply

You need to pray

  • Add another element to your Bible study. Reading God’s Word is great, but you can add something else to help you understand and apply it better. Write down your own personal thoughts and ideas in a journal after you’ve read the passage together as a family. You might choose an arts and crafts project revolving around what you read. Or you might act out the Bible story, complete with costumes, to really bring it to life.

Taken from Building A Family of Faith by Andy Dooley Copyright © (November 2022) by Zondervan. Used by permission of Zondervan, www.zondervan.com. 

Building a Family of Faith

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