As humans it is in our nature to justify almost anything, therefore it is very easy for us to misinterpret the word leading ourselves and others astray. The bible is a book of principles written by man, but inspired by God, with its core purpose to reveal his love for us. Therefore we must always read the scripture within the context of the entire passage within relation to the entire Bible.
To understand the word we need to understand the heart of God, which he has revealed in the word through his holy spirit, so be prepared to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance.
Understanding the true meaning takes practice, so here are some basic steps to get you on your way. You’ll get the hang of it but start small as this does take practice.
1. Time management – set aside some time each day, know how much time you have, don’t rush it, just adjust the extent of your study according to the time you have.
Example… Short time = Short passage, Long time = Long passage.
2. Pray before, during and after, for an open mind, that we may receive the holy spirits guidance, and that he reveals the true meaning of the passage, and not just “what I want to hear.”
3. Choose a passage and Read the entire passage
4. Seek to understand the context of the passage, taking into account,
- The current situation and history of the passage?
- What the people are feeling?
- The reason why the actions that have been taken, were taken?
- What was the result?
5. Ask questions – Put yourself in the situation, try to understand what is going through their minds.
6. Find the principle (life lesson) behind the passage, every passage in the bible is put there for a reason, by finding the principle we can relate the passage to our own lives.
7. Be honest with yourself and apply the principle to your own lives.
8. Pray about it and check your understanding.
I pray that this is helpful.
All the best
P.S. Bible commentaries and devotionals are good, but they are merely another person’s understanding of what is written, remember there is no replacement for reading the bible your yourself and gaining your own understanding.
You can also use E-sword for extra research which has many biblical resources for download including dictionaries, Greek and Hebrew translations, http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html