I was 19 years old before I read the Bible. My friend suggested I start with the book of John in the New Testament. I read the book of John and became convinced that my sins sent Jesus to the cross, and that He wanted to not only forgive me, but be the Lord and Savior of my life. I told my friend my discovery and asked her how someone was “born again” as I had read in the book of John. She led me to faith in Christ and my longing to read the Bible was on fire!
Read the Gospels, Acts, and Romans First
When you are a new Christian, you want to devour God’s word, but wading through Leviticus and Deuteronomy might make you want to stop reading. I started with the New Testament Gospels. Then I went on to Acts and Romans. Those books can become the foundation for witnessing to others about Salvation. I highlighted verses that showed me how to give away my faith, and how to live my life as a believer. When leading someone else to Christ, those highlights can bring you to the right scriptures to share.
The Whole Book!
About 20 years ago, a preacher challenged me to read the Bible from beginning to end in a year. I didn’t make it. It took me about a month longer to finish it, but I was so excited when I did. I learned so much! I learned that there were prophesies about Jesus’ coming thousands of years before He came to earth. I read about God’s people falling again and again, and yet God loved them. I found out that God sent them judges, kings, and priests to draw them to Himself. It was so exciting that there were times when I read for an hour and it seemed like just a few minutes. Since that time, I have read the whole Bible from beginning to end five times, and the New Testament more times than that. Every time I read God’s Word, He speaks to me in ways I cannot explain other than to say His Spirit shows me what the Bible is talking about in regards to me and my obedience to God.
When You Are Confused
There are many passages that I don’t understand in the Bible. Thank goodness for study Bibles and study helps like Bible Atlases, Bible Dictionaries, Commentaries, and books about the Books of the Bible. I had a whole desk drawer full of these kinds of study help books before the Internet arrived. Now my favorite go to place is BibleGateway.com. The cream of Bible study programs is Logos software, but you have to save up for that one. It is a bit pricy. There are always Biblically educated people who can help you too. Anyone who has been to seminary should be able to help you make sense of difficult passages, but there will always be the unanswerable questions. These are the ones we have to ask Jesus when we get to heaven.
When, Where, and How Much to Study
When to study the Bible is dependent on when you have time to sit down with the Good Book and read it without interruption. For me that was in the evening when my children were finally in bed. Now that I am retired, I love to read God’s word as I sip my morning cup of coffee. Find a place to read God’s word where you will not be drawn to other things in your surroundings. I once heard a woman say that she read her Bible in her car in the garage. She propped it up against the steering wheel and set her cell phone to 15 minutes. She said if she read it in the house, there were all kinds of duties that had to be done that would distract her from delving into the Bible with abandon. I try to read one chapter from the Old Testament and one chapter from the New Testament every day if possible. I underline verses that speak to my heart, and look up passages that I don’t understand. It usually takes me from fifteen to thirty minutes, but if I forget or have to skip a day, I miss it. Sometimes all I can manage is a verse from the Psalms, but it becomes a lifeline throughout the day.
Memorizing anything has always been hard for me. Putting verses on note cards and going over them is helpful, but even more helpful is when you really need a verse and have had to look it up several times. Then it becomes easier to find and repeat. I can paraphrase verses, but remembering the place to find them is the hardest for me. A concordance is the best help for that problem, but in today’s world, a Bible app or even a Google search can help you find the missing verse. There is really no excuse for an English speaking person not to read the Bible. We are so blessed in America to have Bibles at our disposal anytime we want. Thank you, God, for Your Word and how it speaks to our hearts and lives. May we continue to read it with abandon and treat it as the Holy Book that it is.