“Pastor, I was reading in the Bible this morning and look at what it says …,” I miss him coming and telling me that Sundays and Wednesdays. Sometimes he would ask me what I thought. Other times he would begin telling me what that passage meant to him. I never heard him criticize. He encourage others, he blessed others , he smiled a lot! His life had been difficult but he had come to know the Lord and once he began reading the Scriptures he could’t stop. His Bible was worn and marked and full of notes. His life was filled with joy. I enjoyed visiting his home. My wife and children loved him. He was saturated with God’s Word. When I preached his funeral I smiled as committed his body to the ground, he had gained what he longed for, heaven!
In January many people start a Bible reading plan! I hope that you’ve made a similar commitment to do so. It’s not as important, that you read it through in a year, but read daily, thinking about and applying the Scriptures your life will be blessed. “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” (James 1:25, NIV)
You’ll discover the joy and confidence that comes from discovering for yourself what the Bible says. God’s Word abiding in your heart and mind brings true peace. “Those who love your teachings will find true peace, and nothing will defeat them.” (Psalm 119:165, NCV)
Here are a few tips.
- You can understand the Bible! Your desire to read it and know it is evidence of God’s Spirit at work within you. Don’t make it difficult, keep it simple. Use a version that you understand. For my daily devotional reading this year I’m using the NLT. There are several others that I recommend, The Message, The Contemporary English Version, and the Amplified Version.
- Use a brief devotional reading if it helps you. Daily Bread or My Utmost for His Highest will get your mind in gear in the morning (coffee helps too). Read in the evening, sometimes a devotional thought quiets your mind (no coffee then!).
- Ready. Set a Goal! What do you want to gain from your Bible reading? With that question in mind your reading becomes purposeful. You are open to hearing what God says about that need. Here are a few goals that I’ve had in the past.
- Intimacy with God.
- Strengthen your faith.
- Wisdom for your marriage, family, vocation or ministry.
- Guidance for a decision you must make.
- A relationship that needs attention.
- Health and Healing.
- Becoming a godly leader.
- Becoming a shepherd after God’s heart
Your goals will be different, but I promise you, you just become more attentive when you read purposefully.
4. Read the Bible! Duh! You might think. However, many people know what the notes in a study Bible or a book about the Bible says, but they don’t know their Bible. I use a wide margin Bible without study notes. It will become priceless to you as time goes by.
5. Write down your thoughts and prayer requests as you read. If you have a wide margin Bible include them in your side notes and date them. Twenty eight years later, Becky and I can share with you where we were and the Word we received that God would make us parents when we were told there was no hope. Four children later and hopefully our grandson will be born this week, we were anchored in God’s promise and peace! So don’t lose that moment, when God’s Word assures you!
6. Finally, be realistic with your time. Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting an unrealistic goal for your time. Trust me, once you commit to diligently reading, marking, writing and praying through God’s Word, your desire will increase. So will the time you spend reading the Bible.
- Are you a morning or evening reader?
- What goals or needs should you approach your Bible with?
- Do you journal your thoughts and prayer requests in your Bible?
- Are you a part of a small group Bible Study?