Learning to Read the Bible

“Your Word have I hid in my heart that I may not sin against You.”  (Psalm 119:11)

     Last Saturday I decided I had to clean my kitchen. I mean really clean it. Not the daily wash the dishes, wipe off the counter type cleaning but a through floor to ceiling cleaning. I felt a little overwhelmed – like where to start? I think that’s how many people feel about reading their Bible. They want to do it, know they need to do it, but where do they start?

     When I first began to desire to know God more and to know His Word, I thought well, I’ll start at the beginning. I’d never read much of the Bible except for excerpts I’d read in church and Sunday School. I’d certainly never read it through.  So the next morning after I’d taken my son to kindergarten, I sat down with my King James Bible and started reading. Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God . . . .” Yep, this was where I needed to start. I decided I could read a couple of chapters every day and then I’d know the Bible. It started off interesting enough, but I didn’t really get any goosebumps or spiritual high from it. But I felt good because I felt like I was doing what I needed to be doing.

      That was wonderful until I got to chapters 10 and 11. I started reading the genealogies, who begat whom,  who was the father of whom and fell asleep trying to get through it. Had not a clue who most of those people were or why it was important all their names be listed.  But I continued. Not really understanding what I was reading, and finding my self frequently skipping ahead, trying to find some point for all this. Thankfully before I just gave up and quit, a dear friend helped me out. What she suggested to me is what I suggest to you now.

     First find a modern translation like the New International or the New Living Bible. The Message is great for anyone who is new to reading the Bible. Before you start reading, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to be your Teacher and to help you receive something from God from His written word.  Jesus said the Holy Spirit would be our teacher and He would teach us all things. (See John 14:26). Start with the Gospel of John and there you will met Jesus, the Son of Man. If  you want to also read something from the Old Testament, start with the Psalms or Proverbs. There you will find comfort and practical thoughts for living. Then read one of the other gospels, Matthew, Mark or Luke.  The book of Ephesians is good to help learn about who we are in Christ.

     Don’t feel like you have to read any set amount. It’s better to spend time reading and meditating on one verse and learn something for your life than to read long passages and not really absorb anything.  When you find  something that starts to speak to you, stop and read it again, several times even. God reveals Himself to us in small steps and He knows what we need to receive and learn from Him.  And He knows our heart. If we desire to know more of Him and His Word, God’s desire is even greater for our fellowship with Him through His Word.

      It’s been over 30 years since I first started on my journey studying God’s Word.  Little did I know then the wonderful treasures God had in store for me or the life-long love relationship I was beginning with Jesus and His written word. Even today, every time I read  a passage and take the time to meditate over it, I learn something new. His Word is as fresh as the most recent on-line news feed. It’s as relevant today as it was the day it was written. There is so much, we will never know it all in this life. 

“How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word and following its rules. 
I have tried my best to find you– don’t let me wander from your commands. 
I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 
Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your principles. 
I have recited aloud all the laws you have given us. 
I have rejoiced in your decrees as much as in riches. 
I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways. 
I will delight in your principles and not forget your word. “

(Psalm 119: 9-16)

Peace and blessing in our Lord Jesus Christ,