6. STUDY WITH A PLAN IN MIND.
Immature Bible students skip around and have no real goal in mind. Reading a few chapters here and a few chapters there with little or no continuity will not do much to improve your knowledge or understanding of the Scriptures. Studying the Bible systematically is much more productive. Some students choose a book of the Bible and labor to learn it before going on to another. Others prefer to choose a single subject, and they refuse to get sidetracked until they feel they understand the Bible's teaching on it. Still others make it a goal to read through the New Testament or perhaps the entire Bible during a certain time frame. Much can be accomplished, if you study with a plan in mind!
7. FOCUS YOUR CONCENTRATION.
This is the key to learning. It is better to study with full concentration for ten minutes than to put a halfhearted effort into thirty minutes. If your mind starts to drift, stand and stretch, start reading aloud, or perhaps take notes. In some cases, it might be best to take a break and do something else. Then, return to your study once you are refocused.
8. HIGHLIGHT OR MARK KEY VERSES OR PHRASES.
Do not be afraid to mark in your Bible! It is a tool and a map to help you go from Earth to heaven. The text is sacred, but the paper and ink that transmit the text are not. By marking the verses that you want to remember, you have sharpened your tool and traced your path. This will also help you find important verses faster later. Many use a yellow marker for this purpose. If you do this, be careful to use one that does not bleed through the page.
9. TAKE NOTES AND WRITE DOWN QUESTIONS.
Most people find it easier to remember something once they have written it down. Even if we never look at it again, by writing it down, we have solidified it more clearly in our minds. Write down any questions that arise immediately--before you forget them. Your spouse, Bible class teacher, an elder or preacher, or a good commentary can help you with the answers. It is a good idea to keep a notepad with your Bible at all times for this purpose. Still another option is to jot down brief notes in the margin of your Bible. I find this practice to be extremely helpful, especially regarding difficult passages. The Lord has blessed me with a good memory, but it is certainly not photographic. I will often fill my margins with brief explanatory notes that are helpful to my memory when I come back to the passage again.
10. MAKE BIBLE STUDY A PRIORITY.
If we are going to be serious about serious things, let's not put Bible study toward the bottom of our daily "to do" lists. Why not make it a rule that you do not turn on the television or sit down in front of the computer for pleasure until your Bible study is finished? This takes discipline but it will certainly help focus one's mind upon spiritual things and upon seeking first God's kingdom (cf. Col. 3:1,2; Matt. 6:33).
11. USE WHAT YOU LEARN.
If you want to remember what you have learned, you must use it. The Bible is not meant to be studied only academically; it must be used as a handbook for daily Christian living (cf. Titus 2:7-14).
12. TELL SOMEONE WHAT YOU LEARNED.
This ties in with the prior point and will also help you remember what you have read and thought about. One practical way to implement this idea is to discuss what you've studied with your spouse, if you can coordinate it so that he or she is also individually studying the same subject or text as you.
Friends, test these suggestions for a couple of weeks, and see if you do not learn a great deal and enjoy Bible study more than ever before! No matter how good your personal Bible study routine is, there is probably room for improvement!