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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Bible Reading Tips

By Dennis Edwards

Reading the Bible can initially seem daunting. Where do I start, may be the first question you ask yourself?

I remember in my youth, I sat down to read the Bible. But I soon lost interest when I got to Leviticus, a book full with ancient Jewish religious laws. Another problem I had was with the footnotes. I read them meticulously, but they only undermined my faith. They rationalize the miracles or miraculous events or explained how science or archaeology had given us a better understanding. I ended up with less faith in the Bible from my footnote knowledge.

Actually, it was not until I received Jesus in my heart some years later, that I was able to begin to understand what I was reading. My eyes had been opened by faith. Paul tells us “But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”[1]
Augustine in his Homilies on the Gospel of John wrote, "Understanding is the reward of faith: therefore, do not seek to understand in order to believe, but believe that thou may understand." [2] So that first step of receiving Jesus in your heart is the first step in being able to read the Bible with understanding. Once you personally know the author of the book, it becomes a lot more interesting reading.

You can find various Bible reading programs on-line. I use "Today's Bible Reading" from Bible Study Tools. I myself tend to read the Psalms through quite frequently. Psalms are actually prayers that were sung. The psalm prayers are often similar to my own anguish and despair, so I will often find myself reading the comforting words of the Psalms. A Psalm may start out in anguish and despair, but it usually ends in praise and thanksgiving to God. Psalms, therefore, are good positive input and can help us to verbalize our own heartfelt prayers. The one hundred and fifty Psalms can be divided into reading five a day. If it is the 10th day of the month, I will read Psalm 10, and then I will add thirty and read Psalm 40. I will continue adding thirty until I have read Psalm 70, Psalm 110 and Psalm 140. That means I have read five Psalms and that can be a good feeding.

I might also read one Proverb a day as there are thirty-one Proverbs, so one chapter a day goes down well with the day of the month. The Proverbs are a hearty collection of good positive antidotes that are good reminders and full of wisdom.
Image result for the gospels of the bibleThe Gospels are always a joy to read and can be read a few chapters a day. I read them a few times throughout the year as the words of Jesus are so convicting and inspiring. Reading the Gospels helps me to stay close to Jesus and helps keep my life in check. He speaks to me through His recorded words which strengthens the convictions of the inner voice of conscience, that still small voice in my heart. When praying and listening, I might even jot down the messages or ideas He gives me. Reading three chapters of the Gospels each day will not do you wrong.

When I was a young Christian, the Bible was about the only book I read for many years. I absorbed it day and night and whenever I had a spare minute. I remember being laughed at and mocked at one of my first jobs because I read the Bible during break time and lunch. But to me it did not matter. I was in love with Jesus and that was all that was important.
In the Old Testament, I tend to read more from Genesis through Job than in the Major or Minor Prophets. In the Major Prophets I will read more from Isaiah and Daniel than from any others. But if you read a few chapters a day you will soon get through the whole Old Testament.

The Epistles make some good study time. Someone has told me that James is the best book for a new Christian to read first. It is certainly a good book. Others say the Gospel of John is the best place to start as John had a very profound understand of Jesus’ message.

Being interested in Bible prophecy, I tend to read sections of the New Testament that have prophecy more than other parts, as I am often sharing those parts in my personal witnessing. The book of Revelation has even a special blessing for those who read, hear and keep the words of its prophecy. So do not neglect it, even if you do not understand it.
Related imageWhere to read and when to read may be another problem you may face. I find that if I keep my Bible with me or at least a small New Testament I can use those moments when I am not doing anything to read. I can read while waiting in the car, during lunch break or waiting for an appointment or for my turn at the bank. I like to read for some minutes in the morning, but for me I enjoy reading more at the end of the day before going to bed. I use a highlighter to highlight those verses that I find more important. I use a fine-point pen to mark cross references or write notes in the columns. Some people do not like highlighters because they may go through the page, so some suggest using a yellow grease pencil. I copy down verses I want to memorize on small file cards and review them during the day.

In closing, I would say, you never go wrong reading the Bible. It is food for your soul and will give you strength for the battle. I try to stay away from Bible commentaries unless I know I can trust them. I ask God to help me understand what He wants me to as I read. What I do not understand I put on the shelf of faith and leave for another time. Otherwise, I ask someone I trust and respect who has more knowledge than I do, to help me understand what I am reading. God bless you as you read and study His word.

Here's some quotes from some famous people on the Bible:

Michael Faraday, the British scientist responsible for the development of the electric generator using magnets said, "The Bible, and it alone, with nothing added to it nor taken away from it by man, is the sole and sufficient guide for each individual, at all times and in all circumstances."

John Quincy Adams, the 6th President of the USA said, "The Bible is the book of all others to read, at all ages, in all conditions of human life; not to be read once or twice or thrice through and then laid aside, but to be read in small portions every day."

Charles Dickens, British writer and social critic, considered by many the greatest novelists of the Victorian era wrote; "The New Testament is the very best book that ever was or ever will be known in the world, because it teaches you the best lessons by which any human creature, who tries to be truthful and faithful to duty, can possibly be guided."

Daniel Webster, Secretary of State for three different Presidents said, "If there is anything in my thoughts or style to commend, the credit is one to my parents for instilling in me an early love of the Scriptures. If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper, but if we or our posterity neglect its instruction and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity."

Simon Greenleaf was the author of "A Treatise on the Law of Evidence," which defined what kind of evidence could be used in a court case. He was also one of the founding fathers of Harvard's Law School, and wrote, "Of the Divine character of the Bible, I think no man who deals honestly with his own mind and heart can entertain a reasonable doubt. For myself, I must say, that having for many years made the evidences of Christianity the subject of close study, the result has been a firm and increasing conviction of the authenticity and plenary inspiration of the Bible. It is in deed the word of God."

Sir Frederic Kenyon, the famous Bible scholar and archaeologist, who was director of the British Museum for more than 20 years and later president of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem, wrote the following after a lifetime of research and study of ancient archaeological evidences: "The Christian can take the whole Bible in his hand and say without fear or hesitation that he holds in it the true Word of God, handed down without essential loss from generation to generation, throughout the centuries."

Notes

[1] 1Corinthians 2:14
[2] Quoted by Greg Bahnsen, Always Ready; p.88.

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