When I was little I knew that it was important to read the Bible, but I didn’t know how. I used to flip open my Bible and what ever passage it opened to I would read. I heard a preacher tell a story about a man who was looking for God’s will like that. He flipped open his Bible and placed his finger on a verse and it said, “Judas went out and hung himself.” He thought, “that can’t be God’s will for my life. I need to try again.” He did it again and this time it came up, “Go thou and do likewise.” We know God would never tell us to go hang ourselves, this man’s idea about how to hear from God was a little flawed.
Needless to say you don’t normally get a lot from reading the Bible like that. You can’t get a lot from any book by doing that, especially God’s word. When it comes to God’s word there are a few things that you need to keep in mind.
1.) The Bible is a collection of books. The Bible is collection of books and those books were meant to be read just like any other book, from beginning to end. That is how we can make the most sense of other books. That is how we can make the most sense out of God’s word.
2.) We call the Bible God’s word because it is what God has told us about Himself. It is a record of how God has dealt with mankind through the centuries. Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us,”God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His son.” The Bible is the recorded word of God and so when we read it, whether we are reading about Noah and the Flood, or Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, we can rest assured that God has given us His word in order to reveal Himself. So as we study the Bible we need to ask, “What is God saying about Himself ?” The story of Noah and the ark isn’t about a floating zoo, its about God’s grace in saving Noah, God’s intolerance of sin, and so much more! We read God’s word to learn about God.
3.) But we don’t stop there, we also need to apply it to our lives and so we should ask a second question, “What should my response be to what I have just learned to be true about God?” We want to be a responsive people. Think about it. Why did God give you His word? He shows you who He is through His word and so as our understanding of God changes our response to God changes. We can not be the same people.
These two questions help me to develop resolutions or what I like to call action steps. Action steps are tangible things that I can do in my life that day to put into practice what I have learned to be true about Jesus. They can be as simple and general as “I’m going to call out to Jesus every time I am tempted today because he knows what it was like to be tempted and was yet without sin” (Matthew 4). Or they can be as specific and complex as, “I am going to ask my mother to forgive me because I was a jerk to her last night because Jesus commands his followers to live in a right relationship with others” (Matthew 5:24).
Just to recap, here are the highlights.
1. Read a book of the bible in the order it was written (don’t randomly flip open the bible and throw your finger down in the middle).
2. Ask two important questions….
- What does this say about God?
- How should I respond to God?
3. Use those questions to help you formulate resolutions or action steps
Looking for a place to start?
If you are new to this bible reading thing or haven’t done it in a while and you are looking for a place to start, I encourage you to check out the blog of my friend (and pastor) Chris Aiken. Each morning he reads a proverb and a chapter from another book of the Bible. He then makes a blog post commenting on the chapter of scripture he read. What is really neat about the blog format is that you can post questions or responses to each daily reading. You can find his blog at http://www.chrisaiken.wordpress.com