We as humans tend to reject what we do not understand. I mean, have you ever tried to put together an end table from IKEA without instructions? If you aren’t a talented carpenter, a seemingly simple task like this can feel like you are trying to carve your face in the side of a snowy mountain. Most people will end up getting frustrated, throw the table away, or store it in an attic or shed never to see the light of day again.
We do the same thing with The Bible. We don’t immediately understand what is going on or what the verses are alluding to and because The Bible doesn’t come with a How to Read Manual, we put it on our book shelves for decoration. Or we download the app and never open it.
We think having a daily devotional app notification is sufficient for our continued salvation. Truth is, if you aren’t going back and studying and understanding the context of the verses that are sent to your mobile device you are doing the drive-thru equivalent of reading God’s Word.
Uniquely to any other book ever printed, there is no wrong way to read The Bible. You can literally open the book in the middle, the end, or the first 40 pages, begin reading and congratulations you’re doing it right. Honestly, the way I personally read The Word varies for a multitude of reasons including my mood and what series my pastor is preaching. You can switch up your approach or do a combination of these. You can study based off sermons, christian books or even a study plan. For beginners I recommend these four ways: Story, Topics, Chronological, & Verse. But, no matter which way you decide to do it, make sure you follow these four steps because reading and studying The Bible is important to your faith walk.
|Step 1: Pray|
|Keep God at the center of everything you do|
|Ask God for the ability to interpret what you read, correctly|
|Ask God to reveal what it is He has for you to read|
|Step 2: Decide Your Process and Go With It|
|The following are 4 beginner friendly ways:|
Story- Most of us have a favorite drama or reality TV show. But, did you know that the same drama you enjoy on TV is also in the Bible? Jesus was the KING of shade! Like the one time Jesus (John 4:3-42) asked the Samaritan Woman where her husband was and when she told him she didn’t have one Jesus said “I know because you’ve been sleeping with everyone else’s”
Every character in The Bible had their share of drama and mishaps that will make you laugh, cry, or you can simply just relate to. One way to read the Bible is to read stories like this along with parables and put them in today’s context to understand them better. This shady story of Jesus was brought to life when I thought about how this would play out on the popular Love & Hip Hip Reality Show.
Topics- If there is a problem in particular that is troubling you it is easiest to look at verses that directly address the issue and how to solve it. There are verses for every single problem that is going on today. Remember that no matter what you are dealing with, there is someone who is currently going through the same thing and there is someone who has gone through it and conquered. Depression, anxiety, marriage and singleness are popular topics but there are even verses about bad bosses/leadership, transexuality, wars, and racism. Some Bibles have a list in the back of topics and their corresponding verses. The Bible app has a search engine for topics that will pull up verses and study plans that are related to the topic.
Chronological- Of course you can read The Bible like a regular book if you choose. Start in Genesis and end in Revelation. Every word, phrase, and punctuation is in its place for a reason so although some people find it difficult I believe it was written that way for a reason. Genesis HAD to come before Exodus and so on. So there is glory and understanding available when reading it this way. One way to make it easy for you to read chronologically is to have several different types of Bible apps and translations to fully understand what it is you are reading. I keep a couple different mobile bibles and study tools on my phone in addition to having 3 or 4 hardcopy Bibles and study guides.
Verse- A good way for a lot of beginners to start is by a familiar verse. I have my favorite Bible verse tatted on me (Isaiah 43:19) and it is my anchor. I use this verse as a starting point for anything I am studying. In fact, when I first got serious about my walk with Christ, this was the verse that launched me into what I am currently studying. I suggest that any beginners use a verse they may have learned in childhood or heard. For example, “For God so loved the World that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him shall have everlasting life. John 3:16” Most people learned this verse early on so after reading that verse read the next couple of verses or maybe even the entire chapter to gain more insight on WHY this verse is so significant to the Christian walk.
|Step 3: Meditate|
|Ask yourself “How does this apply to me?”|
|Write how you feel about what you read|
|Listen for God’s voice and for Holy Spirit Convictions about what you’ve read|
I keep a notebook with what I am studying. As I read I write down my thought about the topic or verses and how they apply to me. For example: Isaiah 43:19- “Behold, I will do a new thing; now shall it spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.“. I looked at this verse in several different versions and translations (contemporary & message are my favorites). After that, I write down how I feel about the verse, “It gives me hope and reassurance that God is able to make a way in places that don’t look hopeful. Deserts usually represent a waterless wasteland or a hopeless place but this verse says that God will make a river where there isn’t one, in a place that doesn’t even have a proper source of water. This applies to me because in my current situation at work I feel helpless. I do not like my job and my coworkers aren’t nice to me.“. Then I can meditate (which sometimes includes worship) and listen for God’s voice on what to do. God will use the Holy Spirit to convict and guide me on what to do. Does He want me to continue to apply for jobs or change my perspective and stay at my current job? That gut feeling you get when making a decision is discernment so listen to it. It is God trying to guide your footsteps.
|Step 4: Do it|
|Pray daily for the necessary change|
|Commit to applying this life change in small steps everyday|
Change does not happen overnight and just like in the example above, if God leads me to stay at the job I do not like, then I must commit to changing my perspective. God has me there for a reason. Maybe that reason is to help bring someone else to Christ. Maybe the reason is so that I can be an example of what Christians look like in the secular world. It has been said that it takes 30 days to form a new habit. So take your time and each day make a vow to take a step in the right direction. That could mean committing to daily prayer before you walk into work everyday. It could also mean committing to going out of your way for your coworkers to create a better atmosphere like bringing in cupcakes for everyone. It is up to you to decide the type of steps you take but the important thing is no matter what you read and how it applies to your life make sure you go out and DO IT! The Bible is your personal instruction manual on life and how to do it right. Don’t continue making your IKEA table without help. Open your Bible and read the instructions then apply them.
k, good talk