This past week I preached a message about Jesus as the Greater Prophet. In the conclusion of that message I spoke about how we have God’s Word in the Bible and as believers we are supposed to let that Word transform our lives. I’ve been thinking about that admonition over the last few days and I was remembering back to a time when I didn’t read the Bible regularly. I remember thinking it was so daunting to think about picking up the Bible and reading it. I had questions like:
- Where do I begin?
- What should I read?
- What does this mean?
- Is this even relevant still today?
I had several times where I tried to start at the beginning in Genesis and read straight through… it didn’t work. I petered out around the time I got to Leviticus! I was recently talking with a guy I met through a prison ministry about his Bible reading and he tried the same method. At first I was concerned for him, then he said he was already in the book of Numbers and I was happily surprised! I encouraged him to keep going, and if he felt he was running out of steam I gave him a few other ideas too.
Why is Bible Reading Important?
The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans encouraged people to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12.2 CSB). You may ask: how can one renew his mind then? In the middle of Jesus’ prayer before his death He prayed, “Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth” (John 17.17, NLT). The prophet Jeremiah spoke of a time when God would “put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts” (Jeremiah 31.33, NLT). Even this morning as I was walking my son through Proverbs I was confronted with this truth from Solomon: “My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body” (Proverbs 4.20-22, NLT, emphasis added).
What we see then is that through God’s Word we receive life and the ability to discern what the Will of God is. The Bible is meant not only to be the map that leads us to repentance and ultimately Salvation through Jesus Christ, but the map also continues after that on our road of being made holy to look like His Son! As Christians, God did not drop us out of a plane to parachute in behind enemy lines with no map and no communication. No, God gave us His map, and we can have constant communication with Him if we will turn on our radio he gave us and look for his instructions.
Getting in Shape
I am not in shape physically. I know I may look like a specimen of raw health (read sarcastically)… but sadly, I’m not. I have friends that run marathons… FOR THE FUN OF IT!!! Yeah, I can’t believe it either. I get scared by the idea of running a 5K.
I do know that I need to start working out and I should start working out, but where do I start? I am starting to work out with a Couch-To-5K type mentality. I’m not going to go out and run 10 miles today… I wouldn’t make it anyway. However, I can start by walking a little, and maybe jogging some. As I start to build up this habit, I’ll be building up the muscles and the stamina to do more in the future.
How Should I Read the Bible?
Reading the Bible can be the same way. Don’t sit down and think you are going to conquer the book of Leviticus in your first sitting. Start with something that is manageable for you. If you have never read the Bible, read just a few sentences or a paragraph or two. As you start to build the muscle and habit, add to it. Here are a few ideas of things I’ve done over the years or heard from other:
Proverb a Day
There are 31 Proverbs. There are usually 30-31 days in a month. Each morning as you wake up read the Proverb that corresponds with that day.
Proverbs and Psalms
If you have been doing the “Proverb a Day” plan for a while, try adding five Psalms a day as well. There are 150 Psalms, so if you do 5 a day, you will get through the whole book each month.
Start with the End
Open up to the back of your Bible. Not Revelations… that’s just a crazy spot to start. Start with the book of Jude. It is probably less than one page in your Bible. Only one chapter! You can read that in one sitting and feel confident that you just read an ENTIRE book of the Bible. When I used to start in Genesis and go forward it would take me weeks or months to finish the book of Genesis. I had no hope. Just like Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball method, start with some small ones to get the feeling of some wins.
After the book of Jude you will come to 3 John and 2 John. Also each both just one chapter and less than a page. Then you get to 1 John (a daunting 5 chapters). You get the idea. You can start to build a habit of confidence by starting with the small things. Most of the books in the back of your Bible are shorter and are packed with information for how to live life as a believer. This is a great spot to start!
There are also other great resources out there with plans for reading the whole Bible in a year and lots of other options.
The biggest thing with Bible Reading, just like working out, is all you have to do is start! Take the first step, turn the first page and begin your journey. You won’t regret it!