Saturday, January 7, 2017

Reading the Bible Better

How to Read the Bible

Studying the Bible is one of my favorite things to do. I don't just say that because that's how good Christian girls are supposed to feel, I mean it! Any given morning, you can find me curled under a blanket on my couch with a cup of coffee, my Bible and at least one journal. It hasn't always been that way though, reading the Bible used to be something I did because I felt like I was supposed to. I would read (sometimes fall asleep) and check it off of my list, but I wouldn't get anything out of it. I know I'm not alone in that. I hear people all of the time say things like "I just don't understand it," "reading isn't my thing," "the old testament isn't relevant to me," "I don't know where to start." Like I said, I get it. I've been there. BUT, the Bible is full of so much encouragement and wisdom I hate the thought of others missing out on it. So below I have listed my tips for making the most of your Bible study time so you can find the same joy I have found in reading God's word.

Before you even open your Bible, let God know that you are willing to learn, but you need His help. Pray that He would open your mind and your heart to receive whatever it is He has to teach you. Pray for focus and understanding. Pray for God to reveal to you what His word says about Him and how it applies to your life. 

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." James 1:5 

Use a translation you understand 
 Look, it is not true that the King James Version is the only translation that is accurate. It may be the most literal translation, but if you don't understand a word of it, it won't do you any good. Go to a bookstore and compare different translations side-by-side until you find the one that you like. Having translation that makes sense to you will make a big difference. 

Use a commentary 
 When I started reading the Old Testament, I got frustrated. I knew that there were valuable lessons to be learned, but as I was drowning in genealogy lists and in-depth descriptions of Temple building materials, I couldn't decipher those lessons on my own. Enduringword is an amazing resource that I believe transformed my Bible reading time. It is a free commentary of the entire Bible. Commentaries are great for those times when you are reading and just think "HUH?" I encourage you to try to think for yourself before you look for the explanation in a commentary, but I think using a commentary will help you learn to think deeper as well.

    Read passages that you don't understand in multiple translations
Sometimes when I'm reading, I'll come across something that either doesn't make sense or doesn't speak to me like I think it should. In those situations, I like to re-read the same passage in a different translation. I've found, a lot of times, a verse that doesn't stick out to me in one translation, can speak volumes when I read it worded a different way. An easy way to do this is with a Bible app that lets you switch between translations.       

Don't try to read cover to cover  
This may work for some, but in my opinion, if you start in Genesis and try to read straight through to Revelation, you will never get there. The Old Testament can be tough to get through so I like to flip flop between the Old and New Testaments. For example, read Genesis then Matthew, Exodus then Mark. Find a reading plan or come up with your own. There's no right or wrong way to read it. One good piece of advice I've heard is to pick a reading plan and cross out the dates to take the pressure off yourself. Like a workout schedule, if you miss a day, often you will feel like you've failed and will quit altogether. So ignore the dates and read at your own pace.  

Don't be afraid to write in your Bible 
 The Bible will become so much more personal when you let go of the thinking that it is too sacred to write in. The Bible is God's gift to you and He wants you to enjoy it. Highlight or underline favorite verses, jot down your thoughts in the margins, mark life changing passages with the date you read them. When you write in your Bible, you leave yourself reminders of God's promises and a record of His work in your life. 

Make Bible reading a priority
The more time you spend in God's word the more you will understand it and the more you will want to read it so set aside time to spend in God's word and stick to it!

"Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." Joshua 1:8

   This is simply what has worked for me in my few short years of Bible study. I still have so much to learn! My hope is for you all to develop a deep love for God's word

If you have any tips of your own, I would love to hear them! 

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