For so many people,how to read the Bible can be a challenge, either because it’s hard to understand or we just don’t know where to start. It can be a difficult task, but not if we can break it down into bite-sized pieces.
Even though the Bible is one, contiguous story, it can be read in just about any order. Pick a spot and dig in. But for the sake of convenience, my recommendation is to start with the Gospel of John. It tells a similar story about the life of Jesus, but more than any other Gospel, it is a love letter from God to us.
Here’s something to consider– if you understand who Jesus is and what He’s about, you’ll get insight into what every book of the Bible is trying to say.
God reveals what we need when we need it
The Bible is alive. The Holy Spirit flows through every word, every sentence. It is also spiritually discerned, which means that God will reveal to you what something means at the appropriate time. You may read something a hundred times and not know what it means, then suddenly it makes sense.
Because the Bible was inspired by God, who used men to write His message, it is logical to ask God for help when you start to read. Many people just browse the Bible and really don’t “read” it at all. They flip through pages, like changing the channels on the remote control. You ask for help, read the passage and that brings us to an important step—reflect on what you just read. This might be tough to chew on, but there are nine questions you need to ask as you reflect on what you just read. They are:
Is there a sin to confess and do I need to take action?
Is there a promise to claim?
Do I need to change my attitude about something?
Which commandment I need to obey?
What example for me to consider, positive or negative?
What a prayer to pray?
Which error do I need to avoid?
Can I see a new truth to be believed, new understandings about God?
Should I praise God for something?
Take a small piece at a time
Remember, just take the Bible one small piece at a time. As you read John’s Gospel, think of these questions. Take your time. Ask God to speak to your heart and mind and wait for His response.
It isn’t as difficult as people make it out to be. Just relax and enjoy the ride. Find a version of the Bible you like and get started. I personally use the New International version, but there are so many great versions.
To be honest, I also enjoy the New Revised Standard, the New Living Translation and of course, I do enjoy the King James for it’s Old English flavor. Versions may vary in emphasis. Some are word-for-word translations from the original Hebrew and Greek. Others are concept focused and try to convey the original intent of the writers. But stick to a translation and avoid a paraphrase version, which can be misleading.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Just enjoy.