15. Reading the Bible
The bible is a HUGE book. In actual fact, it is a library of books and really needs to be approached as a library not a novel. Many new believers eager flip open their brand new bible and start reading Genesis. Their whole world view is immediately confronted with the creation story and by the time they reach the first of the "begats" they are out of steam!
Like any library, the reader needs a librarian to help them navigate the library. You need to be that librarian for your disciple. Ensure that they start their voyage into the scriptures well prepared and on the right course.
In this conversation, you are going to share ideas that will help them develop a daily routine reading the Bible. Later we are going to develop this time into a daily prayer life as well.
Make sure that you share from your own experience, your successes and failures! Let them know that like developing any good habit it will take time and discipline - and maybe a few false starts! Remember to check up on them and ask them how their daily pattern is going after you have done this session with them.
Scores of people feel overwhelmed when it comes to reading the Bible.
These suggestions may help you:
1. Choose a Bible version that’s understandable and easy to read.
Here’s the flat out truth: If we don’t understand it, we won’t read it.
The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek. One of the earliest translations to English was the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, but today we have a variety of versions to choose from. Some translations focus on being more precise and are best for Bible study, while others focus on readability and are great for devotions.
If you’re a beginner, I recommend the New Living Translation (NLT), or a study Bible in the English Standard Version (ESV). The NLT version of the Bible is most readable while still being literal in its translation; the Study Bibles contain footnotes that explain difficult to understand passages of Scripture.
You can also download a Bible app or read the Bible at biblestudytools.com or biblegateway.com. These are great tools for beginners and veterans alike.
2. You don’t have to start at the beginning.
The Bible contains 66 separate books compiled into one book. The 39 books of the Old Testament are the story of God and his people before the coming of the Messiah—Jesus. The 27 books of the New Testament pick up the story beginning with the birth of Jesus.
If you’re new to the Bible, the best place to start is the Gospel of John. This book (the fourth book in the New Testament) is John’s eyewitness account of the life of Jesus. As one of Jesus’ closest disciples, John’s account is both riveting and informative.
John’s purpose in writing is to help us believe, making it the ideal place to start.
"These things were written to help you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."
And to simply continue on from there will take you into the Book of Acts - The story of the New Testament church, and then Romans, which will help you understand who you are as new creation in Jesus.
3. Pick a book of the Bible and work your way through it.
If you’re anything like me, you need a Bible reading plan or you’ll waste precious minutes thumbing through the Bible, never quite landing. So pick one book of the Bible and read a little each day, one chapter, perhaps.
If you read one chapter of John a day, (which will take no more than 5-10 minutes) you’ll read John in it’s entirety in 21 days.
Work your way through one book at a time, and you’ll never find yourself fumbling for where to read again.
4. Read a little every day.
Getting God’s Word into your life doesn’t have to take long. Start small—five or 10 minutes is better than none. Sometimes less is more, especially when reading less means you’ll actually remember more.
Chose a time and place that’s convenient for you. Many people read their Bible first thing in the morning, choosing to spend time with God before daily distractions get in the way. But if mornings aren’t your thing, don’t sweat it. That you read God’s Word is more important than when you read God’s Word.
5. Pray before you begin.
Pause before you open your Bible and ask God to speak to you. Remember, the Bible is God’s Word; it is God’s love letter written to His people, which includes you.
Ask God to help you understand His Word. Ask God use His Word to teach you, to direct you and even to re-direct you, when necessary. Ask Him to use His Word to help you know Him and love Him.
"You will seek me and find Me, if you seek Me with all your heart.” God loves to reveal himself to those who seek Him."
6. Write it down.
As you read the Bible ask two questions:
What does this teach me about God?
What does this teach me about how I should live?
No doubt, as you read you’ll find one or two verses that seem to leap off the page. Maybe they speak to an issue you’ve been grappling with; maybe they answer a long held question; maybe they give you comfort or encouragement; maybe they provide an example to follow or avoid.
When a verse resonates with you, stop and write it down, word for word. Pause to let the message sink in because these words are God’s words to you.
This practice will cement God’s Word into your thoughts in countless ways, sometimes keeping the verse with you throughout the day. You can ask God to help you remember it for when you need it. Be intentional about getting God’s Word into your thoughts and you’ll soon see your relationship with God thrive and your life change.
The Bible was never meant to merely inform us; the Bible was meant to transform us.
Help us make this course better...
If you have used this session today, would you please take the time to leave at least one comment regarding the content?
Is there anything that you think should be added or removed? Any changes in the order of the material that would make it flow better? Any scriptures or concepts that should be included? Any spelling or grammatical errors that need to be fixed? Please list them below so we can continue to build this resource.