The following article is an opinion piece by the author and represents the views of only the author and not necessarily those of AllOnGeorgia.
How To Read The Bible
Still early in the new year, many of you are still holding strong to those resolutions you made for 2018. For many people reading the Bible is among the mountains that we pledge to climb in a a new year. The problems begin with questions like, where to start, or is one part more important than the other? Should I read it from cover to cover, or should I look for things that speak to me in my current situation? There’s no wrong way to read the Bible. Front to back. New Testament, and then Old. Romans first, or maybe one of the Gospels.
In my personal experience, after a long time away from reading and studying the scriptures, (or if you’ve never read it before) it helped to look for things that interested me, and start with those. You’ve probably heard of David and Goliath. A young boy kills a giant in the greatest upset victory of all time. Samson is the strong man is another cool story. A personal favorite of mine is Balaam’s talking donkey. It’s proof that God can use anybody. Even you! There is action, suspense, danger, romance, life, death, hope, faith, and love in the Bible, and there’s plenty of each. Some of this just sounds like cool stuff to read about, but there’s a lesson to be learned from everything in the Bible.
There are verses, or many verses, for just about any scenario you can think of. I’ll give just a few examples. Psalm 34:18 deals with grief. 1 Corinthians 13 talks about love. James 5:14-15 addresses healing. Matthew 6:12-15 tells us about forgiveness… I could do this all day, but it would be more beneficial to you if you did it.
Make no mistake. The Bible isn’t big on sugar coating things. There’s some pretty rugged stuff in there as well. Sin is a hot topic in the Bible. It isn’t something we enjoy talking about, but it’s something we need to deal with, and the scriptures tell us how to go about doing that. The wrath of God is another one that we don’t typically hear about in vacation Bible school. On the other side of that coin, we can read about the love that God has for us, and the grace and mercy that he showed us by sending Jesus to die for us and wash away our sins.
So how do we find these things? It used to be that we had to ask a pastor, or our friend that knows a lot about the Bible. I’d still encourage you to do those things as it’s important to discuss spiritual matters with strong believers. However, these days finding a scripture that pertains to your situation is easy as opening your favorite web browser. Just search specifically for what you’re looking for. Bible verses about_____. That’s where the work starts. You’ve still got to understand, divide, and discern what it is that you’re reading. To say it’s not easy would be an understatement.
Regardless of how you found your way to a specific part of the Bible, this is the part where those people I mentioned above come back into play. The pastor, or your buddy that’s been in church all his life, or maybe a family member who knows God and the scriptures. It’s important to talk about what you’re reading with somebody. It’s more important to talk about these things with people who know what it means. The most important thing you can do is pray about what you’re reading. It doesn’t have to be a long, complex prayer, just a sincere one. You can start with something simple like, “God, show me what this means.” and work up to specific questions. No big scary words necessary. God shows us the meaning of scripture. He reveals it to us in any number of ways. Sometimes that friend or relative will tell us. Other times, we just see it as more than words. Pray, read, pray. That’s the formula. Three key points to know when starting to study the Bible are: God reveals the meaning to us. – Corinthians 2:10. All scripture is important because it is from God. -2 Timothy 3:16. We must internalize (Understand/memorize) it so that we don’t sin against God. -Psalm 119:11. The more you read and pray about it, the more it will mean to you. Even verses you’ve seen before take on a deeper meaning after you’ve grown spiritually.
If you resolved to read the Bible in 2018, stick with it. No matter how you go about it, it will be worth it, and you’ll be glad you did it.
If you enjoyed Danny’s column this morning, join him at 8:00 pm on his Rally For Christ Facebook page for his live feed. The live feed can be found by using the link below.
Danny Burnham Religion Contributor