I am a young female trying to get my spiritual life right, but I don't know where to start. I need information on commentaries that are easy to read and understand to help me out in the process. I am so lost. I pray daily for understanding, and I am trying to read my Bible daily, but I get so frustrated because I don't understand. I want to go to heaven, and I want to be a stronger Christian, but I feel like I am drowning. Where do I start? Do I just read the Bible from beginning to end? Do I find out what my weak points are and read about those issues? Do I read for understanding? Or do I read for memory? Or do I do all of the above? If I do all of the above, how do I approach it? I just don't know how to approach it. People tell me that there were certain customs in the early Christian days that might help me understand some of the things that occurred in the Bible (i.e. the clothing of priest or the time, such as the third hour, sixth hour, ninth hour). I understand none of these things. How can I learn if I have no help? I feel like the Ethiopian eunich. I just don't know what to do. Please pray for me, and if you can help, please do. I don't want to go to hell for a lack of knowledge or not trying. Thanks in advance.
Well, it is clear that you have some familiarity with the Bible. Not everyone knows about the Ethiopian eunuch or pays attention to the divisions of time.
I rarely recommend reading the Bible from cover to cover unless someone is well versed in its content. There are too many sections that are dry reading if you don't know what is going on. And I don't recommend focusing on memorization as a primary goal. You learn things because you put them to use. "But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:14).
Since you indicate that you are already a Christian, I would recommend reading these books as general reading first: Mark, James, Luke, Acts, Proverbs, and Genesis. For Proverbs, I suggest reading only a bit at a time, such as a chapter a day, because it is dense with information. You'll need to give yourself time to digest what you've learned. If there are particular issues that you are facing, ask a preacher; one of their duties is to help guide people in learning and finding what they need to know from the Bible. You are welcome to ask me if you don't have a local preacher to ask. I do have some workbooks that you might find useful to get you thinking deeper about what you are reading, such as one on Genesis.
And when you run into questions, ask!
Is there any particular reason why you suggested that I read these books first? Will they give me the foundation that I am seeking?
Do you have any books that are for sale that I can purchase? I do better with written material that I can take with me and write in. Please let me know if there is any type of printed material that you can advise me to purchase for my spiritual growth. I would like to build a collection of books that I can refer to and read over and over again for my own growth. Once I grow, I would like to use those books to help others.
I just want to be stronger. My spiritual goal is to become one of the stronger women of my local church that other women can seek counsel in. I know how it feels to not have someone that you think that you can go to. Therefore, I would like to open myself up to other women and help them on their journey. I also would like to teach the women's bible class on Sunday afternoon and conduct Bible studies with young Christian women, but I know that I have to understand first.
I am actively participating in our women's Bible book club and it's helping me, but we don't go through different books for understanding. We mostly discuss everyday problems and the leader of the class has a list of scriptures for us to discuss. It has helped to be in the company of other women, but I have a drive to learn more. I have a degree, and as a result, I think like a scientist. Consequently, I constantly seek a deeper understanding of subjects. I don't want to be a "Bible toting, Scripture quoting" Christian who can rattle off a few verses but lacks the understanding of what the Scriptures mean. So please, if you can, let me know what I can purchase. If you have suggestions on books, commentaries, anything, please let me know.
I have reviewed your lessons and things on your church web site. I haven't attempted to print them off yet, but I plan to try to print some things as soon as I send off this email. Anyway, thank you for your prompt response to my first email. Take care and God bless!
I selected those books because they are more foundational and tend to be easier to understand. Books are nice and I have a room full of them, but I don't consider them essential to learning. If you want some basic books to get:
- Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words - Look for an addition that includes the Strongs reference number system. It makes it easier to find words when you are not familiar with Greek or Hebrew.
- Any interlinear Greek-English and Hebrew-English Bible - These show you the original language and a very literal translation to the English. If you can, again find one that includes the Strongs reference number system.
- Strongs' Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible - This makes it easier to find a passage when you remember keywords. It also helps you locate other passages that have the same word being used.
- Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge - This is like your cross-references in your Bible, but far more extensive. This helps you find related passages where the same concept, but not necessarily the same word is being used.
- Where to Find It in the Bible - A wonderful reference that uses modern terms to give you a list of passages on a particular subject.
Some of my books are in printed and e-book form. I try to put a link on the on-line study's title page to where you can get a printed copy.