Many years ago, I asked an associate pastor (Ken Tang Quan) how he got so much from a passage he based his sermon on. In response he told me to read Living by the Book by Dr. Howard Hendricks.

As I gained a better understanding of how to read the Bible objectively, I began to use a few Bible Dictionaries to help me better understand biblical terms and Bible Manners and Customs to gain a sense of ancient societies and civilizations. I discovered that terms I thought I understood did not have the same meaning in the Bible! I also discovered that Bible dictionaries differ and are not the same. Today the Internet makes a variety of resources easily available; however, many resources are copyright free, because they are over 100 years old. For Bible dictionaries, I'd recommend that you consult ones no older than 15 years so that you can benefit from the most recent archaeological and epigraphical findings.

As my Bible study skills developed, I became comfortable with the use of concordances and Bible Language Helps. For me, this was the line in the sand when one crosses from a casual reader to a nerd. This is about the time when you stop telling your friends what you're doing with your free time...

Along the way, I used Bible Commentaries for verse references and to consider other interpretative perspectives I may not have considered. For me, some biblical passages are near impossible to understand.

Like most of you, I never went to seminary; but, with a disciplined approach, you can have a wonderful experience in Bible study and become a considerably better person and have a desire that others may know Jesus Christ as well.