How to read the Bible
How do you start. Start with a good purpose. People read the Bible for many reasons. Some read it to prove that they are right. Some actually read it to argue that the Bible is wrong. Some read the Bible as part of a bucket list (something to do before I die). Some read it to discover God’s will. Jesus spoke of people who diligently searched the scriptures because in them they thought that they had eternal life. Jesus said that these very scriptures were about Him, but those who read the scriptures refused to come to Jesus that they might have life. John 5:39-40. In the book of Acts, Luke spoke of the citizens of Berea as more noble because they searched the scriptures daily to see if what Paul was teaching was true. Acts 17:11.
So, how do you start? First of all, it helps to start with a good purpose. like a path to follow. This next year our elders have given us this PURPOSE for reading through the Bible together: We are reading the Bible to help us obey Jesus’ command in Matthew 6:33. Our purpose is to search the scriptures focusing on this question: Where do you see God’s kingdom and righteousness? So, as we read, let’s keep this purpose before us.
Second, it helps to plan for a regular time and place to read the Bible. Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:13, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of the scriptures.” Listen to what God’s law required of the kings of Israel, Deut. 17:18″Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. 19 “It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes, 20 that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left, so that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel. Do you see anything about God’s kingdom and righteousness in those words? Anyway, plan a time and place to read.
Third, get a good translation that you can read and understand. NASV, NIV, ESV, NKJV KJV, are all readable English translations that I have read and like for different reasons. For the 90 Day Bible reading, I’ve read all of these, except the KJV, and the one I like best for that speed is the NIV, just because it is easier. For detailed study I prefer the NASV and compare it with the ESV and NKJV. Also, online you can go to Biblehub.com or blueletterbible.org and find amazing tools for seeing the Bible in the original languages with dictionary definitions right there at your fingertips. CAVEAT: These tools can get you bogged down and make you lose your focus if you are not careful. But, if after reading the day’s scheduled reading, if you have time and interest, you might go there and browse to see what treasures you can find in the Bible. Nehemiah 8:1-8 tells of when the law was read to the people and there were Levites helping the people understand it. Possibly translating it for them, and explaining it to them. So, get a good translation that you can read and understand.
Fourth, be prepared to make notes. Have a pencil and pad handy and jot your thoughts or questions down. You can make notes in the margin of your Bible if it is large enough, or on a separate notepad. Just make yourself do it. If the words go through your eyes and into your brain and process enough to produce thoughts that come out of your hand onto a paper, you have a much greater chance of learning something and it staying with you. So prepare for it by having a pen or pencil and pad handy when you read the Bible.
Fifth, before you begin to read your Bible, start with prayer. Ask God to help you seek His kingdom and righteousness as you open the Bible to read it. Ask for wisdom, James 1:5. Pray for understanding, for insight, and for an obedient faith. Acts 6:4 the apostles said, we will give ourselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the word. Notice the order there: prayer and the ministry of the word. Start with prayer.
Sixth, share what you saw in the word with someone else and let them share what they saw with you. Do this as a family, if at all possible. You can even use and phone or Facebook if you don’t have anyone handy, but it would be best to share God’s words face to face. God’s book is designed to raise questions and build reverence for God and faith in Him. Romans 10:17 says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. This adventure is more than just about reading through the Bible, it is about hearing the word and sharing it. God speaks to you when you read His word. He wants you to discuss it together with others. Deut. 6:6-7 These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and talk about them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up.
God just told us what to do with His words here. Keep them in our hearts and speak them with our mouths. Store up and pour out. Hear and share. You may just discover more about the kingdom of God and His righteousness in your discussions AFTER your reading than you did during it! Remember Acts 8:26-39.
Finally, seventh, because seven is the number of heaven we’ll stop here. Join a group that meets on Sunday evenings and gather to share with each other there! January 8th will launch our new 2017 through God’s word together adventure. These groups will be meeting from Jan.8 through March 26 (13 weeks), Lord willing. This will really help us off to a great start and get us from Genesis 1 through 1 Samuel 30. Be sure to sign up for a group in the foyer, or just come to the auditorium class. Acts 2:46 tells us how the early Christians met in the Temple courts and from house to house. Acts 20:20 Paul reminds the Elders of Ephesus how he taught them publicly and from house to house. This reminds us that the church that meets here is also the church that gathers as families in our homes.
Blessed people avoid evil and delight in God’s word.
Blessed people meditate on God’s laws and precepts day and night.
Blessed people stand, even in the day of judgment.
The Lord watches over the righteous, but the way of the ungodly will perish.
Seeking the kingdom and righteousness of God, that’s our number one priority.