Nothing will help you reach your life goals as much as reading the Bible, understanding the Bible, and living by its standards.
To do this, you’ll need the right tools and a targeted plan to succeed.
Consider what it takes to make a successful commitment to physical fitness. To get in better shape, you’ll need to commit to a certain amount of time when you’ll exercise, a specific place to exercise, and correct knowledge about the best diet to help you meet your goals. Having a vague idea that you’d like to be in “better shape” will never get the job done. You’ve got to be intentional and committed. This is a difficult task!
The same principles hold true for spiritual fitness.
You’re in charge of choosing the time and place where you’ll read your Bible. You have a world of resources at your disposal, too. Plan well and you’ll succeed.
A study Bible will have notes on every page explaining unfamiliar names, phrases, historical events, places, rituals, ancient customs and more. There will also be informative articles, photographs, charts and maps scattered throughout the Bible. Finding the right study Bible is critically important to your spiritual fitness plan.
The best-selling study Bible in the world and the clear place to start if you don’t have one is the NIV Study Bible from Zondervan. Follow that link to christianbook.com for a survey of dozens of Bibles. If you’re ready for the next step in discovering more about the original context of Scripture, you’ll want the Cultural Background Study Bible, also from Zondervan. These two study Bibles stand head and shoulders above all the rest when it comes to understanding the original context of the Bible’s history, culture and geography.
Other really good Study Bibles include the ESV Study Bible, the NIV Archaeological Study Bible and the ESV Archaeological Study Bible. On a long-term basis, reading through one study Bible and starting in on another is an excellent way to broaden your knowledge.
Want an atlas that will help you survey the entire Bible story, from start to finish? Click here.
Here’s a link to our favorite books designed to help you understand the cultural and historical background of the Bible. We give this reading list to all of our travelers who journey to Israel with us. Pay special attention to Lois Tverberg’s books. Her website, ourrabbijesus.com, is another great source of biblical background material. You can find a lot of resources on the Internet that aren’t well researched. This one is solid as a rock from an academic and spiritual standpoint.
Finally, don’t forget the practical steps of developing a spiritual fitness plans.
It helps to have a place where you read your Bible and keep your study tools.
Keep your study Bible, a highlighter, a pen and a notebook within easy reach. As you see things that help you understand the context of passages, you can highlight the verse, a detail in the study notes and/or make notes in the margins. In years to come, you’ll be amazed at how much insight you’ve gained.
Keeping a notebook handy is for longer thoughts. You might have a full-blown journal or simply a place to make a few notes. As God speaks to you through His Word, write it down!
You’ll also benefit greatly if you invest time in Bible study in the morning. Read your Bible before you look at your phone, the news or even check the weather. In time, this will give you the ability to interpret every other part of your day in light of the Bible’s instruction.
If this discipline is brand new to you, set an achievable goal. Pick out a short book of the Bible, like the Gospel of Mark, and read a chapter a day. Mark only has 16 chapters, so you could finish one of the Gospels in 16 days!
Reading a passage from the Old Testament and the New Testament is another great way to work your way through the Bible. Use the table of contents to mark off chapters you’ve read and you’ll be able to celebrate your progress. Write down the date when you start … and when you finish!
Soon you’ll be on your way to a lifetime of spiritual fitness, reaping the benefits in more ways than you could ever imagine.