As a pastor and Bible teacher, one of the questions that I get a lot is, “How can I understand the Bible better?” Another one is, “How can I be more consistent in my Bible reading?”
Here are four tips that can make the Bible come alive for you:
1. Get a good modern translation. I am currently reading the English Standard Version (ESV), but I also enjoy the New Living Translation (NLT), the New International Version (NIV), and the New American Standard version (NASB). The Message is also an excellent choice. It is more of a paraphrase than a translation but I think it does a great job of packaging God’s Word in an easy to understand format. If you would like to compare several translations and see what is available, this link will provide you with a great website to do just that. If you would like to read the Bible on your phone or tablet, the YouVersion is probably the best Bible app out there and has multiple versions available. Give it a try.
2. Stay in the New Testament for a while. I recommend staying focused on the Gospels and Paul’s letters until you get a clear picture of the narrative that they are giving. One of the reasons that many people give up on their “Read the Bible Through in a Year” plan is because they get lost in Leviticus and are never heard from again! The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John cover Jesus’ life and ministry and should be the place that we spend a lot of our time. The Acts of the Apostles follows with an exciting look at the first thirty years of the early Church.
3. Set aside some time for daily reading. We make time for what is important to us. If you are not in the habit of reading the Bible daily, why don’t you schedule fifteen minutes at the start of your day to read? Even five minutes a day, consistently, will help you create a habit that will bear eternal fruit. If you schedule this time daily, it will become a part of your routine. If you have to write this in your calendar to remember it, do it. What gets scheduled, usually gets done.
4. Take notes. Keep a notepad, your IPad, or your computer handy. As you are reading, take a few notes on the things that speak to you. What questions does the passage generate? What is the main point of the passage? What did you learn that you did not know before? What did you read that will require you doing some further study? I like to do most of my reading with a paper Bible and I underline things and make notes in the margin. If you prefer reading God’s Word digitally, most of the apps allow you to highlight something that jumps out at you.
5. Use a Bible Reading Plan. There are some great ones available on-line that will help guide you in your Bible reading. I mentioned the YouVersion app above. They have some excellent reading plans that focus on so many different topics. I normally have two or three YouVersion plans going at any one time. Check them out!
Can you think of any others things that you would recommend to help someone get more out of their Bible reading time?
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