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How to Read the Bible, God’s Word

Reading God’s Word is easier than we pretend it is. But there are also some principles you can follow if you would like to get more out of your time reading scripture. We will look at five simple principles to help you get more out of reading God’s Word.

The first principle is consistency. Inconsistency in reading scripture is one of the main reasons people “don’t get anything out of the Bible.” They don’t get anything out of it because they aren’t in it consistently.

Establish good habits for reading the Bible. Here are some examples of this:

  1. Before you put your feet on the floor in the morning, read a scripture, even it is just a few verses.
  2. Take a New Testament with you and read a passage from it at lunchtime.
  3. Read the Bible as the last thing you do before you go to bed at night.
  4. Read before or after eating dinner (read it aloud if you have a family).
  5. Read before watching the news or reading the newspaper.

Another help in establishing consistency is to set a goal for reading the Bible through in one year. There are numerous guides and helps available as well as specific Bible versions made just for this. If you have never done so, TRY IT.

In establishing consistency, it is important not to view this in a legalistic sense. Just view reading the Word as if your spiritual well-being depends upon it.

The second step is diversity. When reading, it is easy to get caught up in the books of the Law or some of the major prophets and end up dazed and confused. So switch back and forth between the Old and New Testaments. Read from one for a couple of days and then the other for a couple of days. The diversity will keep you refreshed.

Also, try reading aloud. Paul admonished Timothy to do this (1 Tim. 4:13). You can do this with 1-2 other people or even a group. When people come over to your house, don’t just sit around and talk. Ask if you can read them a chapter from the Bible.

Another tool in diversity is to read from more than one translation. Did you just read the book of Ruth in the KJV? Turn around and read it in the NIV or the RSV or the WhateverV. God had His Word written in Hebrew, Chaldee and Greek. Since most of us don’t speak or read all these languages, we have to rely on current translations which put the Word in our language.

The third principle in reading the Word of God is to concentrate on a section of scripture with a 1-6 month goal. Here are some examples of using saturation:

  1. Read nothing but the Gospels for six months.
  2. Read some of the History books (Joshua through Esther) for six months repeatedly.
  3. Read five Psalms a day for six months.
  4. Read one chapter a day in Proverbs for six months (it helps to read the chapter that corresponds to the day of the month since there are 31 chapters in Proverbs).
  5. Read a New Testament epistle through one chapter per day for one or two months. (e.g. Ephesians can be read through five times in one month with this method.)
  6. Read through a book in one sitting during an evening or weekend afternoon.

The fourth principle for reading scripture is to redeem the time. Whether you are stopped at a long traffic light or waiting for an appointment at work or elsewhere, take the time to read the Word. Your mind will be renewed through it. Whether you use a big Bible, pocket Testament, 3×5 note cards with verses written on them or a PDA with the whole Bible in electronic format, keep the Word handy and in front of your eyes.

A fifth principle in reading the Word of God is to remember that you should not throw away your grammar book. The Bible is a book, of course. When you study it, use the same methods you would in studying any other text. Focus on nouns and pronouns. Focus on the verbs and the verb tenses in a passage you want to learn more about. And realize there is a limit to any translation. Because languages change, words sometimes change or lose their meanings.

God wanted to speak to us so clearly that He sent His Son to be the visible, audible Word that would make His message known. He still cares about you hearing that Word so much that He will do everything in His power to help you. But you must not be afraid to branch out and read multiple translations in order to hear what God is wanting to speak to you.

By applying these five principles, your time in reading the Word of God can turn from an endurance contest into a lifelong habit which becomes a source of strength and fulfillment.

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