FROM CARD CATALOGS TO ALEXA
My generation researched a topic at the school library where we looked in a giant piece of furniture with miniature drawers called a card catalog. Flipping through the alphabet, we’d find the subject and write down the call numbers to locate books on the topic. We’d peruse the shelves full of encyclopedias–the Google of our day.
We’ve come a long way since the “YOU’VE GOT MAIL” days, far surpassing dial-up and increasing our knowledge at the click of a button. A day and age where you can say, “ALEXA” and a computer answers your every question.
MAKING THE BIBLE MORE ACCESSIBLE
But not only have video games and cell phones and the ways we view television improved, but the way we learn about new things has changed. We aren’t simply learning about the rainforest in a book, we’re soaring over it through the lens of a drone and watching time lapse video footage on Planet Earth. We are able to see things and learn in a completely new way.
The same is true for reading the Bible. Most people in church are walking in the building with their Bible on their iPhone. Podcasts, blogs, forums, YouTube videos, online courses and apps help people interact and debate issues in unique and exciting ways. Knowledge has become endless and the way the Bible is studied, organized, and analyzed is more easily accessible than ever before.
In the times of Jesus, manuscripts were passed down from generation to generation. Word of mouth and daily temple visits were how they shared their knowledge of who God was and called them to be.
After Jesus’ ministry, disciples and missionaries traveled the world preaching the new covenant, the New Testament, that the promised Savior had come. That he had redeemed his people through his perfect sacrifice: himself.
As the centuries continue on, we pass on these testimonies, these stories, these prophecies of who God is and the life he calls us to.
There is no better time to be able to access the wealth of information the Bible provides, because there are people who have spent their entire lives and careers on organizing it by topic, order, and themes. Character studies, life lessons, wisdom on living, it’s all there, waiting to be used. Are you ready to start digging?
WE ALL NEED ENCOURAGEMENT
Everyone has their own way to cope with difficult circumstances, and I have a pile of my own, but I want to walk you through the ways that the Bible can be used as an encourager for when life gets hard.
The Bible differs from other “self-help” books in that it is a book where it gives you the tools but doesn’t leave you on your own to figure it out. It’s actually a “spirit-help” book, a resource for living life in surrender and dependance on God’s goodness.
The Bible tells us that we can lean into God and trust him because he is:
Take comfort in this. We don’t have to take on the full burden of everything that life throws at us because he wants to help us.
Through my own struggles, I’ve discovered that when my body is failing me, I need to focus on my mind and spirit before I can heal again. Digging into my Bible as a tool for self-help is what gives me encouragement, strength, perseverance and hope. And who really fully heals without some kind of hope?
You’ll never find peace in controlling situations, because life is continually changing. But you can find peace and strength and hope and trust and dependance by surrendering to the one who knows you best.
WHERE DO I START?
1. BUILD RELATIONSHIP BY STARTING WITH PRAYER
There’s more than one way to learn to talk to God. Close your eyes and speak from the heart, journal your prayers or use prewritten prayers to make them your own using the Psalms or the Power of a Praying Series.
2. LEARN GOD’S CHARACTER BY READING HIS WORD
3. FOCUS ON GROWTH BY DIGGING IN DEEP
My favorite way to get help for an issue is to look it up in the back of my Bible and find every verse that relates to it (example: worry, anxiety, fear, trust, hope).
But that’s just the start. Check out the tools below I use to get even more specific (loss of a loved one, divorce, addiction, disease, infertility, etc.)
WHAT TOOLS ARE OUT THERE FOR MY SPECIFIC ISSUE?
1. BIBLE CONCORDANCE
These can be found in the back of some Bibles, but it’s great to have a separate more in-depth one on hand. These books index all the words in the Bible and cross-reference every verse containing them.
2. TOPICAL BIBLE VERSE BOOKS
These are the cutesy, inspirational books that you find waiting in line to fill your prescription at the drug store–but they are a wealth of knowledge! These are similar to a Bible concordance, but they are more specific on emotional issues for women.
3. TOPICAL SCRIPTURE WRITING PLANS
A great way to make a daily habit of getting in the word, these scripture writing plans have a verse a day to write in a journal, grouped by a monthly theme or topic.
4. ONLINE BIBLE STUDIES
Many of these accompany a book you need to purchase, but I’ve found they’re a great starting place on building community. Even if you don’t purchase the book, you can still benefit from the lesson because of the basic overview they provide.
- Proverbs31Ministry Online Bible Study
- SheReadsTruth Online Bible Study
- RightNow Media App
- Study Gateway App
5. CHRISTIAN LIVING BOOKS
For people who don’t have the patience or time for a workbook, there are so many great books that either replace or accompany workbooks to give you the full benefit of the study without all the homework. Here are a few I’ve enjoyed:
6. TOPICAL BIBLE STUDY WORKBOOKS
I personally love the workbook format and prefer it because it allows me to really dig deep and relate the lessons to my current situation. I can stew over answers and make comparisons when I have a place to write them down. These four studies have greatly encouraged me in using my Bible as a self-help guide:
HERE’S A FREEBIE BEFORE YOU GO!
The Bible isn’t meant to be studied alone. Get in community, and pray for guidance. While the Bible can be used to motivate and instruct, it’s not exactly self-help; it’s a Spirit-led guide. Use this prayer list printable to add your own praises, prayers, and petitions.