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Why is it important to plan ahead for personal Bible studies?
First, planning ahead helps me to set personal Bible study as a priority. When I don’t have a plan, I am honestly a lot less likely to actually read and study the Bible. If I have a plan, however, I am able to just jump into what I have already planned I will be studying and spend the whole allotted time invested in the study rather than stressing about what to study in the first place. Planning and scheduling my personal study time helps me to make sure I spend time with God in His Word regularly.
Second, planning ahead allows me to prayerfully consider what God wants me to invest some time into learning. If I am prayerful in my planning, He is the One who will make those plans – I am just the one with the fingers on the keyboard or hand on the pen. If I am prepared, then I have (hopefully) taken time to consult the Lord about what I should study and when.
Third, my time studying the Bible is more fulfilling. Like my first reason, planning ahead means more time for studying the Word in my scheduled time. I get to jump right into the planned study instead of trying to figure out what to study when I am sitting down to study.
How can the Thompson Chain Reference Bible help me plan ahead for personal Bible studies?
The Thompson Chain Reference Bible is one of my absolute favorite resources for planning out my Bible studies, as well as for doing my Bible studies. I use it whenever I want to create a Bible reading plan, or develop a Bible study curriculum. There is a plethora of resources in this single Bible to help with a vast array of activities. I want to walk you through how I use the Thompson Chain Reference Bible to help me develop a Bible reading plan for personal use, as well as to create my Free Printable Reading Plans, so that you, too, can develop your own Bible Reading Plan for whatever topic God lays on your heart.
Find more about the Thompson Chain Reference Bible:
Step 1 – Choose your topic
The very first step in building a Bible reading plan is to choose your topic. I pray over what topic the Lord has in store for me to be studying. As I pray over a topic, I also spend some time looking through the Topic Index to explore what topic chains are listed. Some of them have enough references to keep studying a topic for a year or more, and some have only a couple of references. Oftentimes, related topics can be combined or divided into appropriate categories.
For example, I’ve been really wanting to study more about God’s promises throughout the Bible. I found the topic “Promises, Divine” and there are numerous references that are broken up into many subcategories. This can help narrow down what I want to study more specifically. For this Bible Reading Plan, I want to focus on promises to believers. Using the NKJV version of the Thompson Chain Reference Bible, pages 1906-1909 include a variety of subcategories under Promises, Divine. We will be using Reference Number 2880, Promises, Divine – to Believers.
Step 2 – Sort through the referenced passages
Let’s take a look at Divine Promises to Believers using Reference Number 2880 and prayerfully sort through the listed passages to create a Bible reading plan about God’s promises to Christians. The reference number is important because we will use it a few different times. To plan a Bible reading plan or to plan a weekly Bible study plan I would then go through the passages listed, find the ones that are relevant to the plan I am creating, and include them in my list.
In Divine Promises to Believers on page 1907 of the NKJV version of the Thompson Chain Reference Bible, we have quite a few passages listed. The verses listed in bold have the passage printed after the list of passage references. For example, Psalm 37:3 is bold and the verse itself is printed underneath the list of verse references. Psalm 34:9 is listed but not in bold and is not printed under the list of passage references. After going through the referenced passages, record the verses that best fit the reading plan and organize them across an appropriate number of days.
Step 3 – Schedule the passages
For a reading plan on divine promises to believers, there are a great number of verses that easily make a 14-day reading plan. I would then take my verses and plan each passage for another day on my reading plan.
Divine Promises to Believers 14-Day Bible Reading Plan:
Step 4 – Study!
Now that you have chosen your topic, sorted through the verses, and scheduled the passages, it’s time to start using your new Bible Reading Plan with the Thompson Chain Reference Bible. This is not only a great resource to help you create a Bible Reading Plan, but to follow along with a reading plan! Let’s go through the first day of our Divine Promises for Believers Bible Reading Plan together with the Thompson Chain Reference Bible.
Our first passage, Mark 9:23, is found on page 1305 of the NKJV edition of the Thompson Chain Reference Bible. As we read Mark 9:23, we should read the surrounding verses for additional context so that we more accurately understand today’s verse. I like to read the whole section that my verse is in, and oftentimes I will read the whole chapter for even more information. At the top of the section where there is a title break, we see “A Boy is Healed” along with additional verse references. When there are additional passages referenced I would read them as well because they are relevant to the passage I am studying and may provide additional context and information for even further understanding. So not only would I read Mark 9:23, but I would read Mark 9:14-29, Matthew 17:14-21, and Luke 9:37-42.
The Numerical Index is where we started out and found our Promises, Divine – Reference Number 2880. 2880 is the Reference Number for Promises, Divine. The Alphabetical Index is where you would search for a specific topic in alphabetical order. The additional References listed are for other topics covered in this passage.
Let’s take a look at “Blessings According to Faith” listed in the margin next to Mark 9:23 for some additional study. We see it is under reference number 1204. Looking up a topic via the Alphabetical Index tells you what the reference number is to then go find it in the Numerical Index. So since we know the reference number, we would go straight to the Numerical Index and find number 1204, which is on page 1756 of the NKJV edition of the Thompson Chain Reference Bible. From here we would be able to find additional passages that may relate to our original passage for today’s study.
How does the Thompson Chain Reference Bible help me study the Bible?
In this way, I let the Lord lead me through various parts of His Word for an expanded understanding of the theme He is teaching me. The beautiful thing about going through the Thompson Chain Reference system is that you can go as deep and broad into your study as you wish. You get to connect multiple themes and passages you may not otherwise have known were related.
In addition to the Numerical Index and Alphabetical Index, if I am unfamiliar with a book, person, or other aspects of what I am reading there are many other resources I can reference.
- For questions about a book, I can consult the Analyses of Bible Books that begins on page 2055 of the NKJV edition of the Thompson Chain Reference Bible.
- For further study of particular Bible characters, I can consult the Character Studies that begin on page 2103. There are also prominent names and the meanings of their names beginning on page 2111.
- Page 2114 onward includes a plethora of charts, lists, references, maps, and other resources to help understand themes across vital stories, persons, and passages of the Bible. For example, you will find “Isaiah’s Portraits of Christ” listed with passage references on page 2115, and prophecies of Jesus beginning on page 2120.
- Page 2263-2391 is a Concordance as well to help you jump a little more simply to passages based on a specific word.
There are what feels like countless Bible study tools within the pages of the Thompson Chain Reference Bible. It not only helps me create Bible Reading Plans and then follow the reading plan, but it also helps me study the Bible in a variety of ways. I can do a deep Bible study to prepare a lesson I am teaching, or I can do a simple devotional-style Bible study in the mornings. No matter what kind of Bible study I am doing, the Thompson Chain Reference Bible is a resource I am excited to have and recommend to others.
Where can you get your own Thompson Chain Reference Bible?
I appreciate that the Thompson Chain Reference Bible comes in a variety of translations, but my absolute favorite is the NKJV. There are also NASB, ESV, KJV, and NIV editions available, all of which can be found on FaithGateway, or the following additional locations online.