Once a month, you’re going to hear from our authors, from our team, or from a guest on how we study the Bible, what resources we use, and what questions we ask.
There are many ways to study the Bible. Here at Lifeway, we publish several different kinds of resources and then there are countless other publishers and authors who also publish resources for studying God’s Word. Because we hear from many of you asking about the differences and the goals of the different resources, we thought we’d unpack a few of them below. If you want to know about study tools (like commentaries), check out this post or this podcast.
Bible Reading Plan
Most of the time, Bible reading plans are simple plans for reading the Bible. They may center around a theme, like Advent, or they may be put together around a certain goal, like reading the Bible through in a year. These plans are easy to find and a great way to start reading the Bible if you don’t know where to start. Check out the YouVersion app for many plans and stay tuned here on our blog for the Know His Word 2019 reading plan. We loved seeing you all read along with us this year and can’t wait to read more Scripture with you in 2019!
Devotionals typically consist of a short Scripture passage and then a devotional thought. They often feature an application-driven message—what does this passage tell me about how to live today? How does it apply to my life? We love devotionals especially in our busier seasons. Many of them also feature ways to dive deeper into Scripture if time allows, which we always love. A few of our favorites are Journey (Journey is a monthly devotional magazine) and those listed here. You can also find several audio devotion options here.
Trade books are what everyone outside of the industry call “books.” We typically call them trade books around the office to distinguish them from Bible study books and devotional books. But some of us may have had to google that term when we first started working for a publisher. We love books around here! We have a whole section of our blog called Book Notes, where we write about what we’re reading. However, books are not the same as Bible studies. Books may use a ton of Scripture and even have reflection questions or book club guides in them, but they are typically less interactive than a Bible study. You can probably read through a book without also opening your Bible. Some of our Bible studies have companion trade books. We answered some questions about those here. Trade books can be powerful catalysts for growing your faith and walk with Christ.
As we stated above, Bible studies are interactive. You’ll need your Bible and a pen in order to complete a Bible study! Bible studies are fairly self-explanatory—they are tools that help you study the Bible. Most Bible studies can be done by yourself, but we always encourage women to study with others whenever they can. We grow so much from hearing how God is growing others.
There are several different kinds of Bible studies, too. Some are what we typically call “verse-by-verse” studies. They take a book or a passage of the Bible and work through it literally verse by verse. Others may be “topical.” Topical Bible studies take a topic—friendship, motherhood, hospitality—and dive into various passages of Scripture that speak to that topic. We know different women study in different ways depending on their season of life and journey with Christ, so we try to publish a variety of studies so that every woman can dive into God’s Word.
We’ve also recently started providing online and in-store Bible studies. We did this because we hear from so many of you who cannot study for whatever reason with your local church. We hope you’ve found community in our online and in-store platforms. We only do a few of our studies online each year, though. Logistically we can’t provide all of our studies in those formats. But if a study’s not online or in store, you can still dive in on your own whenever!
Finally we have Bibles. This is really all you need! Grab a Bible, and you’ll be set to study God’s Word and grow in your relationship with Him.
We’re sure you’ve noticed that there is more than just one option when it comes to Bibles. We recently told you about a few that we love here. We recommend any of those! But if you’re looking for a Bible and aren’t sure what kind to get, most fall into a few different categories.
Study Bibles – Study Bibles have study tools built in. Typically, they’ll have footnotes with commentary about each verse. These are great for diving into cultural and biblical context.
Devotional Bibles – Alongside Scripture, devotional Bibles feature short devotionals for application reading.
Journal or Note Taking Bibles – These Bibles typically have one column of text with plenty of margin space for taking notes or creating Scripture verse artwork.
Then of course there are your everyday Bibles. These don’t actually have a name, but they are the no-frills sort of Bibles—simply the text of Scripture, maybe with cross-references and maps in the back. These are great for reading through Scripture without the distraction of study notes or devotional thoughts.
If you’re wondering about translations, check out this post.
Again, all you need to study your Bible is your Bible. You can study God’s Word with or without the resources we pointed to, but we know that sometimes it helps to have something to guide you as you read Scripture.
What are some resources you recommend for Bible study? Let us know in the comments!