I begin my study prayerfully and meditatively remembering that our very reason for living is to know God, and communication is the key to know a person. My purpose for studying the Bible is to know God. My secondary purpose is to introduce people to the God I know (Psalm 86:11).
I examine my heart. I confess sin and repent of ungodly attitudes. I approach the scriptures with humility, for the sake of positive change in my life...not for the primary purpose of trying to address the faults of others. The outgrowth of this is that I am able to graciously address common struggles and sin issues.
Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up (1 Corinthians 8:1). I don't want to be repellant in my presentation of God's truth.
I approach the scriptures dependent upon the Holy Spirit to guide me into all truth; to reveal greater understanding (John 16:13). We cannot communicate the truth with credibility unless we comprehend it with conviction.
I approach the scriptures remembering the Holy Spirit's purpose is to convince (John 16:8). I focus on substance not style.
I approach the scriptures believing, for the word of God works effectively in those that believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13, Proverbs 3:5-6). If my opinion and God's word conflict, then my opinion is wrong.
I approach the scriptures with a heart attitude that wants to appropriate and apply the truth (1 Samuel 15:22). True-life application results in obedience.
I use this basic Bible study method as I study: observation, interpretation, and application. What do I see? What does it say? What does it mean for me?
I consider the context. Who wrote it? What do I know about them? Can I follow their life through the scriptures? Can I see significant events in their lives that might help formulate how they write and what they emphasized in their writing?
What do I know about the world they lived in?
Who was it written to and for what purpose? What was going on culturally and politically at that time? Were they living in a hostile environment? Facing persecution or opposition to their beliefs? What other cultural challenges did they face? What similarities are there in what they faced and what our modern cultures face? Were there ideology and worldview clashes that may have influenced their writing?
I do word studies. I look at meanings of words and how they relate to one another. Understanding verb tenses opens understanding of passages and how they personally apply to us.
I approach the scriptures remembering what all human beings hold in common throughout all of history—our inherited and volitional sin, our battle with the devil, and the flesh and the world (Matthew 4, 1 John 2).
I approach the scriptures remembering the mission of God (John 3:16-17) and the purpose of the scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16): that we would think in alignment with God's truth and live as His agents of redemption and reconciliation.
I take advantage of resources and learn how to use them. A good study Bible, a Bible concordance, Bible handbooks, Bible dictionaries, are all very helpful, as are Bible commentaries. I utilize various internet sources, such as: Bible Hub, Bible Gateway, Blue Letter Bible, as well as Bible software.
Considering all of this, I want to emphasize that the majority of my teaching proceeds forth from my personal prayer and devotional Bible reading. It is during these times that the Holy Spirit unveils truth to my soul and God speaks to me personally.
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