Keys to Reading The Bible in 2016

For many, the beginning of a new year brings a new resolve to spend more time reading the Bible. For some, that resolve comes from an awareness that 1) they should read the Bible and 2) they would benefit from reading the Bible. Both of these are true. But I often observe that such resolve doesn’t result in a sustained lifestyle of reading scripture. In this blog, I want to offer three keys to approaching your reading of scripture that might help.

  1. Focus on long term understanding.
    Your understanding of scripture will deepen over time. Early in your journey you will understand less than you will later on. If you quit reading consistently because you don’t always understand everything you read, you’ll never understand more. Great “Aha!” moments of understanding often come as you begin to connect the dots from one passage to another, from one idea to a larger context, from one instance to a broader narrative. In order for you to connect the dots, you must first be exposed to the dots and absorb the dots. As your exposure and absorption increases over time (years, decades), you will notice a geometric increase in how you are able to connect the dots in ways that bring greater understanding and application.
  2. Focus on reading large chunks of scripture.
    Your mind needs to wrap around the unfolding narrative of the Bible, the setting, the story, the major characters, the conflict, the climax and the resolution. If you’re somewhat new to the Bible, here’s a recommended reading list:
    [Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, Luke, Acts] The above list will give you a sweeping view of the unfolding narrative of scripture. It’s 312 chapters and if you read 3 chapters a day, it will take 104 days (just over 3 months) to complete. Once you’ve read this, I would recommend going back and filling in the blanks. Read the other 3 gospels. Read Paul’s letters. Read Isaiah, Daniel and Revelation. Read the other New Testament letters (not written by Paul). At any point, you can begin reading one Psalm and one Proverb daily. Too many people make the mistake of trying to begin by zeroing in on a particular passage, but they lack the overall context necessary to really work through the particulars.
  3. Realize that “What does this mean for me?” isn’t the first question.
    The story doesn’t revolve around you. You are now part of it, but you will never understand your part of it if you put yourself at the center. “What does this mean about God?” is a much better question. “What does this mean for the immediate audience of the writer?” is a great next question. Try to understand the Bible in it’s own context before you try to understand it in your own. “What does this mean for me?” works much better after you’ve answered the other two questions.

There’s so much else that could be said, but it is very easy to get so bogged down in strategy that you fail to just read. Read the Bible. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth. He would love to help you.

2016-10-17T10:29:18-05:00

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