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LEARNING THE BIBLE BASICS
When I was in first grade, I was one of three kids in my Sunday school class to learn all the books of the Bible.
Our congregation was a little less than 100 members and the following Sunday night I stood in the front of the auditorium with my best friend and another little boy who brought me flowers every week.
As we started, “Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers…”, I caught my best friend’s eye and we burst into giggles. Poor Doug shouted the books of the minor prophets while Ashley and I laughed our way through the remaining 62.
CONNECTING MY BIBLE TO “REAL LIFE”
At that young age, I understood the names and order of the books of the Bible but limited on my own. My technique was either start at the beginning or close your eyes and flip to something random.
Through years of guidance and education, I learned that the Bible is much more than a book of stories, but a toolkit on how to live life well–a life lived with meaning and purpose and direction. Just 8 years ago, I discovered how the Bible connected with “real” history (those things they teach you in school) and that most Bibles don’t follow a chronological order.
It’s understandable that many of us as adults want to revisit the things we learned as children in Sunday school or even try to decode the Bible for the first time, but many of us open it up to only feel overwhelmed. In choosing a Bible, we often question:
- What do I do with this thing?
- Can I jump around or do I read from start to finish?
- What’s the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament?
- Why are there so many different versions?
I’ve completed over 50 Bible studies in my adult life and I still crave more knowledge. Why? The Bible says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16)
Instead of seeing the Bible as a historical document, look at it as a tool for living life well. It’s a reference book, workbook, daily meditation, counselor, advocate, inspiration and motivation to find purpose in your days.
The Bible is filled with stories, psalms, poetry, parables, history, analogies, promises, encouragement, and prophecy.
WHICH BIBLE SHOULD I CHOOSE?
The first thing you need to do is find a Bible that you love. There are some super creative ways to present the Bible these days. Find a style that appeals to you–one that you look at and think, I could use this every day!
Maybe you like the cover or the way it feels when you turn the pages. Maybe it has room to write or multiple versions for comparison.
Make sure that your main Bible isn’t pocket-sized. While those are great to have on-the-go, they don’t have much room to take notes or provide bonus commentary.
Have a favorite Bible but not sure you want to write all over it? Great! Set that aside and go buy one that you can write in. Even if it’s the same exact one.
I’m not being sarcastic, I’m being serious. Bibles are meant to be read–get one that can get messy in the process!
A few years ago an older lady sat down next to me and she opened this falling apart, ink-soaked, scraps-of-papers-Bible. I was in love. Here was my cute and pretty Bible, some of its pages untouched and this lady looked like her tears were staining the pages.
I wanted that for myself.
I went out that day and bought myself a new Bible that I loved. This week the binding on that Bible tore. A bittersweet, but a proud reminder of the day I committed to using this Bible six years ago. It’s filled with notes and bookmarks and prayers and photocopied diagrams and maps.
I love opening it because it feels alive with purpose and meaning and motivation.
WHAT’S WITH ALL THE DIFFERENT VERSIONS?
When choosing a Bible, you need to consider the different versions. If you’re new to this, you may be confused by the variety. I grew up on NIV so I use it the most. However, when I’m at church, people come in the doors with all kinds of versions and I love hearing the same verse in different ways.
So why are there so many? When the Bible was translated from the original Greek and Hebrew, there was room for interpretation. Some translations are a literal word for word while some are a complete paraphrase. Others combine the two concepts of words and ideas. I suggest you use multiple versions for comparison, and the good news is many apps and websites will do that for you for free! (Check Out YouVersion and Bible Gateway for starters)
CHOOSING A BIBLE
Ready to start choosing a Bible? There are so many types to choose from. Here are a few of my favorites:
Parallel Bibles offer multiple versions for side-by-side comparisons.
These devotionals throughout the Bible geared specifically toward women are so diverse! Lots to choose from.
Journaling Bibles are super trendy right now and useful for people like me who love to doodle and write. They come in all formats, from full blank pages to guided lines in the margins, so check out a few different styles.
This beautifully designed unique bible that uses the Christian Standard Version and accompanies it with verse highlights and historical information, as well as diagrams and timelines.
Reference Bibles usually come with detailed concordance and/or commentary. A concordance is basically an index of words and topics that will point you to specific verses. Commentaries vary from footnotes to full studies explaining difficult concepts or providing background for a reference.
I love the visuals in the Quickview Bible. It’s an NIV Bible alongside infographics to help you organize your thoughts as you learn the facts of the Bible. Includes reoccurrences of numbers in the Bible, and timelines of major characters.
These Archaeological Bibles are for anyone who loves reading up on bible history and watching the History Channel. Any discoveries are documented in these color photo-filled Bible.
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I can’t wait to show you how much the Bible can apply to your life right now. Continue on to the next part of the Study Your Bible Series here and discover timelines, note-taking tips and more!
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Keep studying, friends!