Reading the Bible
There are 66 books written in two different languages and volumes upon volumes of commentaries. It sometimes seems overwhelming knowing where to start. So where do we? I think the answer to that depends on the individual.
Do you like to reading things that are brief, and straight to the point? You might be best reading the gospel of Mark first and reading Proverbs.
Do you like to read things that spark your imagination and keeps you thinking? Them you may want to start with the gospel of John and reading Isaiah and the other prophets.
While there's no right answer for everyone, I can give one piece of advice that I think holds true for everyone: ask your pastor.
The Bible is meant to be read alone AND in community.
Once you read it, that becomes obvious so until then you'll have to take my word for it.
The purpose of Bible reading is twofold:
- Reading to know about God.
- Reading to know God. To experience God.
While these can happen at the same time, our intention in opening the Bible may direct how we read it. For this post, I'm going to focus on reading the Bible to experience God. These are the times you read the Bible during your quiet time/devotional time.
While there are many different ways to approach this, here are three that I've found particularly meaningful:
I have a custom planner that I designed and ordered from Plum Paper but any journal would do. Each day I write down the verse of the day from the Bible app and I pray over it. Just re-reading the words and listening for what God is telling me. Then I write down three gratitudes before I start my day.
Some days this is easy. Some days I've got tons to be thankful for. Some days I feel God's presence so powerfully around me that I don't want to move. Other days it is a struggle. I have to seriously think about what new things I'm grateful for. Other days, God is just background noise in the craziness of the world. But the practice over time helps me remember that God is always with me even when it is hard to hear and the blessings are hard to find.
This resource combines listening to God, scripture, and journaling all in one! Rev. Chris Barbieri has put together books patterned after the ancient spiritual discipline of Lectio Divina. This devotional journal allows you to listen for the Holy Spirit as you work your way through a book of the Bible. All you need is this book, a quiet space, and a pen.
For this practice I either use the Bible app verse of the day and pick a word from that scripture or I use my Centering Prayer app because it has scripture built in and a timer. The basic premise is to choose a holy word and sit silently in the presence of God for a certain amount of time. I started doing this practice for 5 minutes a day and have worked up to 20 minutes.
Sometimes I sit quietly thinking about my holy word. Sometimes I hear from God. Sometimes I don't. The purpose of the practice isn't to expect an outcome. The purpose is to show up. God wants a relationship with you. And God can't have that if you aren't willing.
If you want to dig further in your understanding of scripture, I encourage you to join a small group or study at a local church. Bible study in community prepares you to love your neighbor in divine ways. I can't stress that enough. But if you aren't ready to take that step yet, contact me. I'm happy to help you put together a reading plan and discuss what you read.
Until Everyone Hears,
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2 Timothy 3:16 - New International Version
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness