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Finding What I’m Looking For

June 14, 2010

I love digging into the Word and unearthing priceless treasures from the troves of Scripture. But when I first became a Christian, I didn’t have a clue where to start – I was just hungry for the Word of the Living God and anxious to know Him more. I wish someone would have mapped out my journey through the Word and given me a helping hand as I started my dig.

So, I’m excited about the opportunity to write this post and share with you what I wish someone would have shared with me about 23 years ago. I’d like offer a map of sorts that will help us find what we’re looking for in the Word of God. To make it cohesive, I’m going to begin with the basics and chart it out in topical chunks.

CHARTING OUT THE BIBLE

Old Testament:

Law – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

Historical – Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther

Poetic – Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon (Song of Songs)

Major Prophets – Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel

Minor Prophets – Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

New Testament:

Historical – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John (a/k/a The Gospels), Acts

Pauline Epistles – Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon

Other Letters – Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1,2 & 3 John, Jude

Prophecy – Revelation

Knowing the basic structure of the Bible helps point you in the right direction when you begin your own treasure hunt in the Word. If you’re not familiar with where they are, you can find them in the table of contents.

FINDING WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR

The Word of God is exciting, rich and inexhaustible. Every word on every page is a deliberate choice by the Creator of the universe to speak to us from His heart to ours. That’s why it’s so important that we not just casually read it, but thoroughly study it.

As you flip through the Bible, you’ll find that it’s broken down into easily distinguishable portions of scripture known as chapters and versesBut it wasn’t always that way. In the 13th century Stephen Langton gave us the chapter system we use today and in the 1400’s, Robert Stephanus devised the verse system that makes finding what we’re looking for much easier. Could you imagine if someone told you to find where the Bible says, “for the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.” without having it divided by chapters and verses? I’m so thankful we live on this side of the chapter and verse implementation!

There’s nothing like the thrill of turning the pages of scripture in our quest to know God more. When you’re looking for a specific word, you can turn in the back of your Bible to the concordance and find it along with several scripture references that contain that word. It’s a great tool, but the concordance in the back of your Bible is limited.

However, in the 1800’s, James Strong developed what we know today as, Strong’s Concordance. With this wonderful tool, we can now find any word in the Bible along with every chapter and verse where it is found. It’s important to note that the Strong’s Concordance is divided by the Old Testament (Hebrew) and New Testament (Greek). Each word has a coordinating number. After finding the assigned number, you turn to either the Old or New Testament section and find the basic meaning of that particular word.

Today, we have the luxury of cyberspace  where we can find just about anything with the click of a button. We can go to blueletterbible.org, biblegateway.com, crosswalk.com and a host of other sites to find what you’re looking for. If you’re not sure what chapter or verse to go to in order to find something, most website tools allow you to input a keyword or phrase.

It’s vital to  study the Bible beyond the surface. The same word that has been translated into our English Bible may have several meanings in it’s original Hebrew or Greek. That’s why the Strong’s Concordance is such a valuable tool. But I’d also like to share with you a few of my favorite study books that give us more depth to our word studies.

Here’s a sample of what’s on my bookshelf:

Spiros Zodhiates ~ “Complete Word Study Dictionary-Old Testament” ~ AMG Publishers

Spiros Zodhiates ~ “Complete Word Study Dictionary-New Testament” ~ AMG Publishers

W.E. Vines ~ “Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament” ~ Zondervan

Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary ~ Holman

Interlinear Hebrew Greek English Bible

An array of commentaries on various books of the Bible

When I became a Christian in 1987, I didn’t know about all the resources that were available then. I certainly would have been stoked to have access to the tools that are now at our fingertips through the internet. We are so blessed because what we have now makes the excavation of the Word of God much easier and much less time consuming. But I also believe to whom much is given, much is required.

So, let’s all study to show ourselves approved…workers who need not be ashamed…rightly dividing the Word of Truth.

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. June 14, 2010 6:03 am

    Stephanie, like you, as a new Christian, 35 years ago, all I knew to do was pick up the Bible, which at the time was the NASB, and read it cover to cover. I do have to say the Lord spoke to my heart and I grew in the Word by doing that. Later on, I discovered all the Bible aids. I’m glad you put this information out here for new Christians who may be struggling with the Word as it is written for a culture we know little about.

    Believe it or not, As a young child, I learned the divisions of the books of the Bible through a song. To give you an idea the opening lines went like this: Let us sing the Books of Moses, of Moses, of Moses, let us sing the books of Moses for he wrote the Law: First Genesis, Then Exodus, and Levitius, and Numbers, and then came Deuteronomy the last of them all.

    I am so blessed to have such a Biblical foundation. And thank you for writing such an informative article for all of us. I’m going to check out the Interlinear Hebrew Greek English Bible.

    God bless, Bobbi

    • stephanieshott permalink
      June 14, 2010 7:44 am

      Bobbi, Thanks so much for joining in the dig and sharing your story. Seeing that you’ve been a Christian for 35 years blessed me more than I can say! I also love the song you shared. I’m going to try to find it on the internet. I know this may seem strange, but I love children’s songs. I was just singing “The Obedience” song the other day. 🙂

  2. June 14, 2010 8:37 am

    I’m always glad for time I spend searching out God’s Word, and we DO have access to more “help” than ever before. I hope I’m being a good steward of what God has made available to us. These “basics” help us have a good start to learning, just like measurement/ingredient understanding help us tackle a recipe. Thanks, Stephanie!

    • stephanieshott permalink
      June 14, 2010 8:47 am

      Hi Julie, While I was preparing this post, I kept thinking about how much information is at our fingertips…with a click of a button, instant info! Could you imagine how Peter, Paul, Timothy and all the first church leaders would have used our information age?

      Glad we’re on this dig together!

  3. Kristi Stephens permalink*
    June 14, 2010 10:15 am

    Love how you summarized/ organized this, Stephanie! That the chapters/verse #’s were added later alone is so important to understand! 🙂 Thank you for sharing with us!

    • stephanieshott permalink
      June 14, 2010 10:30 am

      Hi Kristi, SO glad to be doing this dig with you! Can’t wait to meet you in person!

  4. June 14, 2010 10:27 am

    Thank you for this, as a new Christian I am amazed at the amount of study guides and books out there. Though to be honest I think the bible is best shared with friends as you all learn and share the word together xxx

    • stephanieshott permalink
      June 14, 2010 11:31 am

      Hi Sara, I’m so glad you’re in on the dig! And you are so right…there’s nothing like the Word of God! AND when we’re in the Word with others, we grow even more and we encourage each other in our journey with God. Thanks for encouraging me today!

  5. June 14, 2010 1:13 pm

    Thanks Stephanie! Your love for God’s Word is contagious!

    • stephanieshott permalink
      June 14, 2010 3:14 pm

      You’re such a sweetie! I think our hearts beat to the same rythm of the Word, my sister! 🙂

  6. June 14, 2010 3:39 pm

    Stephanie:
    Thanks for the informative post.I keep the Strong’s right next to my Bibles for study time. It is SO helpful.

    I can’t imagine trying to study scripture without the chapters and verses. We are so blessed to have had so many scholars who came before us to prepare the way.

    Blessings~ Marita

    • stephanieshott permalink
      June 14, 2010 4:22 pm

      I’m with you…I love the Strongs Concordance! I’m also thankful for the chapter and verses. I couldn’t imagine trying to find something or tell someone where to find something. Obviously, the Lord knew exactly what generation I needed to be born in! 🙂

  7. July 12, 2010 11:04 am

    Hey, sweetie! I just got around to reading this. I didn’t realize how much we were alike! 😀 I love, love, love to dig in the word. The words on those thin pages do not just sit on top of the pages but they have a depth that is unfathomable. I used my first Strong’s (paperback) so much that I wore it out. When hubs bought me a hardback, he told the sales clerk I had worn out my other one and she said she’d never heard of anyone wearing one out! And I love, love, love my interlinear Bible! Awesome! Blessings to you!

    • stephanieshott permalink
      July 12, 2010 12:21 pm

      Lynn,
      The more I get to know you, the more I think we may be two peas. 🙂

  8. Kori permalink
    July 13, 2010 1:37 pm

    I am new to this blog and am gaining so much information and inspiration and motivation from it. Thank you. I would LOVE to know what resources you (or someone) recommends for Bible study with children. So my children can grow up knowing how to do this. I was rasised in church and loving God and don’t have a clue how to truly study the Word. I would like for my children to learn how early on! My children range in age from 1 to 9. But I am sure there are people who would enjoy recommendations for other ages as well! Thank you.
    Kori

    • July 13, 2010 2:50 pm

      We are glad you have joined us, Kori. I would recommend that you visit The Mob Society (www.themobsociety.com) and the MOD Squad (www.modsquadblog.com) for additional ideas for incorporating Bible study with your children. These are excellent sites that are designed to equip parents.

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