We’re not all natural readers, but my experience is that reading brings great reward. I struggle to read the great novels or works of fiction. But I’m a fan of sports biographies, and works on leadership, people, organisations, and new ways of thinking and doing. But hands down the most instructive, life-changing, and liberating book I’ve ever read—and continue to read is the Bible.
Apparently it takes less time to read than Game of Thrones and not all that much more than Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. And while these are great stories, the Bible is so much more. If you’ve never really dipped into the Bible, can I recommend you give it a shot. Grab a modern translation—replace the old King James with a New International Version or the Holman Christian Standard Bible—and give it a read. Maybe start in the second part, the New Testament, and discover the extraordinary account of Jesus. It’s a book of life and hope and, contrary to popular opinion, extraordinary relevance and applicability to life now.
If you’d like to read the Bible with someone else, this can make it easier and more fun. Let me know and I will see if I can arrange a reading buddy or even a reading group.
For those of you who have read the Bible—’have’ being the operative word—and want to dip into it again, here are a few suggested approaches to get you restarted.
- Read the whole Bible through in one year. A good option is to get a Bible reading plan and follow it. Such plans are available on line or on smart phone Bible apps.
- Listen to the Bible on your mp3 player as you travel to and from work, go on holidays, or exercise.
- Use some Bible study guide, such as those produced by Matthias Media, which help you through an entire book of the Bible. These provide some commentary and ask questions to assist your understanding and application of the passage.
- Get into a routine Monday to Friday that fits with work and other regularities. Don’t worry if the weekend doesn’t fit the routine – do something different on weekends.
- If you know another language then, after you have looked at the passage in English, read through it again in the other language. This with help you give more attention to the meaning.
- Read with a friend and discuss what you have learned. Or both of you read on your own and then make contact to discuss it together.
- Read the Bible out loud to yourself.
- Use Search the Scriptures – a three year Bible reading program. You can take this at whatever pace you desire. Maximum benefit is gained if you take the time to write your answers to the questions.
- Follow Don Carson’s For the Love of God to read the Bible over one to four years. Excellent commentary by Carson. Available free on the Gospel Coalition website.
- Keep a journal of what you have learned and intend to apply from your reading.
- Prepare for sermons and Bible studies by reading over the passages beforehand.
- Read a passage with a view to giving a very brief talk which explains it, illustrates it and applies it. Then you can talk to me about finding an opportunity to give it!
- Try the S.O.A.P. approach. Read or write out the passage of Scripture. Note your observations and questions of the text. Decide how you are going to apply what you’ve learned. Pray that God will give you understanding and enable you to put it into practice.
- ‘Manuscript Discovery’ is a term given to the study of the text of the Bible without chapters, verses, paragraphs or headings included. This means you have to do more work, with the result that you learn more. You can do this yourself simply by printing out the text of the Bible from Bible Gateway and removing all added numbers and headings.
- Commit verses to memory.
- Type out the entire Bible.
- Come up with your own ideas… share them with others