One of the greatest gifts given to mankind by God is the Bible. For the Christian believer the Bible is the rule of faith and practice of life. It reveals to us who God is, what He wants of us, and how we are to live. It shows us His nature and character. It is uniquely revelatory and divinely inspired. As Christians it is the only guide we have to reveal who we are, how we should do life and spirituality. It is therefore of foremost importance in our lives.
That being said, it is shocking that so many believers in our nation are biblically ignorant. Most have not read the Bible in its entirety. Even more disturbing are the many pastors who haven’t read the Bible through. How can one properly teach what they are not familiar with?
Most will take the easy way out if given a chance. Bible reading is no different. We like to read our pet verses, study our pet books. Leviticus is such a bore and is not relevant today. Revelation and Daniel are too complicated. The only things that really matter are the words in red. I have to search the Bible until I find a verse “that speaks to me.” I hear these fallacies frequently along with many others. The Scriptures speak differently. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)
I’ve put together a list of ideas that have deepened my understanding of the Bible. Some may sound simplistic to you. That’s OK. This isn’t graduate level material – this is the bedrock of spiritual formation.
Here are some points that might help you:
- Read the Bible Daily – The good news is that thanks to technology there are many ways to engage with the Word of God. One of my favorites is the YouVersion app. I use it on my smart phone, my iPod Touch and my laptop. It has 125 different Bible reading plans along with many versions and the options of keeping notes and highlighting verses.
- Read large portions – I use the 90 day plan completely reading through the Bible in 90 days. That’s four times a year! By using an app I’m not burdened with carrying a heavy Bible and I can read in short increments as time allows. I average 15 chapters a day. There are other apps that may suit you better. The important thing is to read. Reading the Bible in a year is a noble thing to do and I encourage that endeavor however to get a true overall understanding you need to read in greater allotments. Bigger chunks of the Scriptures. This is not such a daunting task when you have a plan and you see progress such as the apps can track.
- Use the timeline in your Bible or app – Become familiar with how the Bible fits together, i.e. the last book of the Old Testament in chronological order is Nehemiah. This will give you greater understanding of subject matter, reason of importance, the message in context, etc.
- Develop discipline – Reading larger portions of the Bible requires discipline. Reading daily requires discipline. There are spiritual and psychological barriers to overcome when committing to the Scriptures. Discipline will be a key to seeing fruitful growth.
- Share it – When a verse or thought jumps out at you share it. Tell a friend, post it on Facebook, tweet it or share with a circle on G+. Write about it if you enjoy journaling. I find this simple step reinforces the truth that God is showing me.
- Read a different version – Each time I read the Bible through I use a different version. It keeps my reading fresh and challenges me with different writing styles.
- Pray as you read and ask God to open your understanding that you may be able to see wonderful things out of His word. Psalm 119:18
I challenge you to pick up the Bible, read it and begin to grow in His grace and knowledge.