One of the best things that you can do to get to know God better is to read your Bible, consistently every day. Often though we don’t know where to start reading or else we jump around from place to place in the Bible never really understanding what is going on or what God is saying to us. We want to help you grab hold of what God is saying and learn His wisdom and way of living. Here are some things that you can do to get the most out of your Bible reading experience.
Choose a time. Choose a time each day when you can read the Bible. It’s best to choose the same time each day so that it becomes part of your regular routine. Some people read in the morning as soon as they get up. Some people read in the evening. When choosing your time, choose a time when you are at your best and when you won’t be easily distracted. Once you’ve chosen a time, put it in your calendar just like you would any other appointment…only this is your appointment with God.
Choose a place. Find a place where you can be comfortable and where you won’t be easily distracted. Some people can easily read their Bible in a coffee shop but many find that the best place to meet with God and read their Bible is in a quiet place in a comfortable chair. Choose the place where you can concentrate and won’t be distracted, then go there every time you meet with God. The routine of a set time and a set place will help you make meeting with God a habit, something you do every day without fail.
Get a Bible that is easy to read. The Bible was written many centuries ago in the Hebrew and Greek languages (the Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek). Scholars have translated the Bible from the original languages into modern day English. Some translations try to match the original languages word for word, while others attempt capture the ideas or thoughts that are communicated and paraphrase what the original languages said. At Living Hope we use the New International Version (NIV) as it sits in the middle between both ends of the spectrum (word for word vs. thought for thought) and does a great job of translating what was originally written while still being readable today. Other translations that we use from time to time are the English Standard Version (ESV) which is a word for word translation, and the New Living Translation (which leans to being more of a thought for thought translation). The important thing to keep in mind when choosing a Bible to use is to find one that is easy for you to read and understand. If you are just starting out reading the Bible we would recommend the New Living Translation or New International Version. If you don’t have a Bible, we would love to give you one. Please contact Pastor Kirk and he will arrange to get you one.
Begin with prayer. Each time that you sit down to read your Bible, begin by asking God to help you to concentrate on what you are reading and understand what He is saying to you through the passage you are reading that day. James 4:8 says, “Come close to God and He will come close to you” and in Jeremiah 29:13 God says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.” When you begin with prayer, you begin drawing closer to God and you begin to seek after God with all your heart and when you do this, God will respond just as He promises.
Use a reading plan. Often when we read the Bible we stick to the passages we are familiar with and we never read the entire Bible. A Bible Reading Plan guides you through the Bible and helps you discover all of the wisdom that God has written in it. We have created the First Steps Reading Plan to help you get started. The First Steps Plan will cover 60 days and take you through key parts of the Bible that will help you get to know God. After that we suggest joining us in our chapter a day reading plan. Many other great reading plans are available online from sites like the plan we follow at The Bible.com.
Use a pen. As you read your Bible underline, highlight, circle, mark up whatever stands out to you. Bibles are meant to be well used and have wide margin for this very reason. When a verse, a sentence or a word stands out to you, the Holy Spirit is wanting you to pay attention. If you don’t want to mark up your Bible, then use a journal to record what you read.
Use a journal. Journaling is great way to record and process what God is saying to you. A journal can also be a useful tool to use at a later time, to reflect on and review some of what God said. Without writing the wisdom that you are learning down, you may forget it as well as some very important lessons! We recommend that you structure your Bible reading and journaling around the SOAP method of Bible Study which you can read about on this site. You can choose any notebook to serve as your journal or find journals specifically designed for this purpose at LifeJournal.cc or other online vendors.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can start spending time regularly learning and getting to know God, please contact us, we’d love to help you. Pastor Wayne Corderio of New Hope Church also has a great video on how to start your daily devotions.