“Read your Bible! Read your Bible!”
If you’ve grown up in the church or ever been to church, I’m sure you’ve heard this statement before. Such a simple idea, but oh so overwhelming if you’re a beginner. I grew up in the church and got my first Bible in 4th grade, but would say I didn’t really start reading/understanding the Bible until I was in college. For me, reading my Bible is probably the thing I continue to struggle the most with. However, I’ve found a few tricks along the way that really help, so I’m going to share them with you!
I’ll be honest and say reading the word doesn’t happen every day like I’d like it to because life gets busy and I tend to put other priorities first instead.. But I will say, I can really tell a difference in my life and my attitude when I spend time in the Bible versus the days I push it to the back burner. So here’s how I spend my quiet time..
I try to make it happen first thing in the morning after I wake up and before I eat breakfast otherwise it doesn’t get done. I usually grab a glass of water, and like to start with a quick devotional (it takes less than a minute to read!). I’m currently using Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. It’s a 365 day devotional written from Jesus’ point of view and can be quite convicting. At the end of each short message are a couple of Bible verses. If I’m not reading in a specific book of the Bible, I’ll usually look up those verses and do some reading there.
Typically though, I try to focus on reading a specific book of the Bible and read a few chapters a day until I get through it. I’m currently reading through Ephesians and it’s been so good for my heart. If you’re just beginning, I’d suggest starting in one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) or I think Romans can be a good place to start too. Opening my Bible is still a bit overwhelming and I can easily get lost in the technicality of the language and wording, but I’ve found a tool that really helps! I came across The Message a year or so ago, and it’s truly changed my perspective on Bible reading. If understanding the Bible is tough for you too, THIS is your tool. It’s called “The Message” by Eugene Peterson. “The Message is a contemporary rendering of the Bible from original languages crafted to present its tone, rhythm, events, and ideas in everyday language.” In other words, a Bible written in easily understandable language! Seriously life-changing. Let me show you…
2 Corinthians: 16-18
English Standard Version: So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal wight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
The Message: So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.
For me, it rephrases it in a way that’s much more comprehendible.
First, I’ll read the chapter in my regular bible. I bought a single column journaling bible because I wanted to be able to jot notes in the margins as I read, and my original bible had tiny margins. It’s been so helpful! I read a few verses there and then I’ll open The Message and re-read it there to compare and understand it more fully. Sometimes I’ll write the verse from The Message in the margin of my regular Bible so when I come back to it I’ll remember the other phrasing.
Highlighting key verses has helped me a lot as well. I don’t have any rhyme or reason to how I do it, but it helps me pick apart the chapter better and gain more understanding about what it’s saying. If you’re really creative and enjoy art you can get really fancy and draw or paint across the page (pinterest has tons of suggestions for this). Writing in my Bible seemed a little scary to me at first, but it’s helped me understand it so much better. Don’t be afraid to mark your pages up, it’s okay–really! It’s meant to be understood, not just read and then closed up.
So step by step I:
- Read my devotional
- Read a few verses or a chapter in my Bible
- Read the same passage in The Message
- Compare, and take notes
It doesn’t have to take longer than 10-15 minutes or be super complicated. Just give it bit of your time in the morning or maybe before you go to bed at night. It can be life-changing. I find it’s crazy how what I read often either applies directly to my current situation or relates to a sermon I’ve heard or book I’m reading. His word is alive and living! I hope these few tidbits have encouraged you to brush the dust off your Bible and give it a go.