I inaugurated this blog last summer with a post about Bible reading. I think it’s time for an update!
Reading the Bible regularly is such a vital practice for believers. We need to be searching the Scriptures, constantly! There are so many benefits. Here are 4 that come to mind:
We will get to know God’s nature and character. Many people have opinions about who God is and what He has to say, but there is no need to speculate. We have the Bible so we can know Him for ourselves.
Our identities will be anchored in Christ. The Bible details how much God loves us and who He created us to be! There are so many competing messages about who we might be, but our Creator knows who we truly are and wants us to be secure in our God-given identity.
Our prayer lives will be more fruitful. When we spend consistent time in the Word, prayer will take on a new dimension because we will be able to pray according to God’s heart and will.
We will be more like Christ. The Bible says in Colossians 3:16 to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” I know this can sound unattainable and even a bit cheesy (I don’t know, every time I read this verse I see a picture in my head of Julie Andrews singing “The hills are alive with the sound of music…”) but it’s something we should strive for.
Our thoughts become actions and repeated actions determine character. I want to be like Christ, so I need to think and act like Him.
Where else can I find Christ’s thoughts, but in the Bible?
Now that we’ve established that regularly reading the Bible is super important, let’s talk about how to go about doing that in practical terms. I want to share a bit of my routine and what I’ve learned in the process. My approach is not perfect, and it probably won’t work for everyone, but hopefully it will get you thinking about your own routine!
WHAT I’M READING: I know there are many daily Bible reading plans out there, but they don’t work for me. Loose structure is my friend. I pick a book from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament and read them simultaneously. I try to do the OT books in sequence, or at least in a sequential grouping. I recently finished Exodus and am on Leviticus right now. (I read Genesis last year.) My plan is to read through the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Bible that Moses wrote) before I move on to some other grouping of books in the OT.
I’m not as concerned with sequence when it comes to the NT right now. Last year I did read all of Peter and John’s epistles sequentially, but not so much these days. I recently finished Revelation and started on the Gospel of John. To be honest, my latest NT selection had more to do with preference and practicality. After reading Revelation, I was missing hearing the words of Jesus, so I wanted to read the Gospels. Then my husband recently started reading the book of John, so I thought it would be good to discuss it together. (My methods for choosing will vary.)
I’m also interested in the Messianic Psalms as well, so I study 1 or 2 of them a week, as the Holy Spirit leads.
Ask the Holy Spirit for help in understanding. I heard John Bevere once say that before he reads the Bible he prays that the Holy Spirit would reveal Jesus to him. I’ve incorporated that into my daily Bible reading practice, because it’s so true!
We always say that the Bible is like a map. But it occurred to me recently that I am terrible at reading maps. My sense of direction is almost nonexistent. I’m the kind of person that needs a map reader along with the map. And that’s how it is with the Bible too. We need the Holy Spirit to illuminate and to guide us as we read.
Without the Holy Spirit, we cannot possibly get it right.
I also find that sometimes the Holy Spirit wants to highlight a specific aspect of the Bible to me. God always has a NOW word, we just need to be in tune. We need the Holy Spirit, and we need humility.
Take your time. I don’t pressure myself to read a set amount a day. Generally, yes, I will read a chapter a day. Now that I’m reading Leviticus though, I normally only get through a section a day. (It’s a tough read!) I might not read both my OT and NT passages in the same day. If I have the time or if I feel led to, I will. Some days I just get to one and that’s OK. Sometimes I’m still working through a chapter and will go back to it the next day.
Go at your own pace. I will read a whole section and then go verse by verse in that section. If my study Bible has any notes about a particular verse, I’ll check them out at this point. (They’re distracting in the first read, and I like to make my own observations first, before I read somebody else’s.) Then I’ll read the section a couple more times before moving on. Reading it out loud helps. This is when I start circling words and underlining phrases. I’m always looking for patterns (words or themes). If I get any insights, I may jot them down right in my Bible, but if I sense a larger message, I type it out. (I use some aspects of the inductive Bible study method, but not necessarily all. Perhaps one day I will incorporate more of them.)
Don’t underestimate what God can do through your daily reading practice! God has used what I’m studying in my personal Bible reading to bless others on so many occasions. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will impress a passage or message on me that is for somebody else. Be prepared!
The more of God’s Word you put on the inside of you, the more the Holy Spirit can draw from when it is needed.
Be curious and give yourself permission to explore. If I read a passage that connects to something in another part of the Bible, I go for it. Even if it throws off my reading for the day. Since my objective is just to learn about God from God, there’s no pressure. Great biblical insights often come through such tangents.
Find the connections. It’s amazing how the whole Bible connects. It’s meant to be that way! I just love it when I encounter that in my reading. (This happens more frequently since I started reading both Old and New Testament books at the same time.) For instance, my church was recently teaching through the book of Romans and I was struck by how much the Apostle Paul alludes to the Exodus story. Since I had just read all of Exodus, it really came alive to me. Moreover, lately I have such an appreciation for God’s wisdom in choosing Paul to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. Without him, we would not have the understanding we have of God’s great plan for humanity. He truly bridged the gap from Judaism to Christianity. God is awesome!
Talk to somebody else about what you’re reading. I’m grateful for my husband. He listens to all of my ramblings about what I’m reading. What patterns I’m finding and what I think the Lord is saying. He also thinks very differently from me, so we learn from each other. I’m so grateful to have a sounding board like him!
Go to church! We need community. The local church is so important. I find that corporate Bible study enhances personal Bible study. I love it when my personal Bible study intersects with what is shared at church. It’s just further confirmation of what God is saying.
Don’t be afraid to use Bible study resources. I use free Greek/Hebrew lexicons and commentaries online, watch sermons and teachings on YouTube and read books about specific topics. (Use discernment of course!) These all enhance my time in the Word, but I try to keep them as secondary resources. (I’ve posted what I’m reading in the Goodreads widget at the bottom of my homepage, if you’re interested.) As Lisa Bevere says, reading somebody else’s revelation is settling for “crumbs and rumors”. God wants to speak directly to YOU as you examine the Bible.
And that’s all I got! I hope this post has encouraged you to find what works for you or to tweak your routine a bit if you need to. I sincerely believe that if we delight ourselves in God’s Word, it will transform our lives. Let me know if any of these tips or takeaways resonated with you. Happy reading, friends!