But what about...reading and understanding the Bible?

The Bible – God’s Word
 
Written over 40 generations by over 40 authors from different walks life.66 books written in different places across three continents in three languages...all telling one story.The Bible is the revelation of God; His plans, His purposes and His plan of redemption.
 
If we look at 2nd Peter 1:3 which says ‘His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who is called by his own glory and goodness.’
 
Also Psalm 119:105 ‘Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path’.
 
For me these verses show that God has given us everything we need; when we know God, we have all we need to live the way He wants us to.Reading and studying our Bible is how we learn more and more about God.
 
When I first thought about reading the Bible:
 
Early in my Christian life, I remember sitting with my Bible in front of me and thinking:‘right, let’s get started’!I had read different parts of it over the years and of course knew the well-known stories we all learn in Sunday school but I had never intentionally and with a plan decided to focus on the book in front of me.I thought no better place to start than at the beginning and slowly but surely planned to read the whole Bible in one year.Well, guys, that didn’t happen. Sometimes the day was over before I knew it and I began to fall behind on the planned schedule.I tried to read the passage for two or three days in one day to catch up when suddenly I realised, I was reading word after word, verse after verse and chapter after chapter but was I really studying and learning more about God?
 
I felt I was getting nowhere; I decided to stop what I was doing and asked friends for help on how they approached reading God’s Word.After chatting to them and other Christians I trusted, I bought a few commentaries that helped me focus and structure my study until I got into the swing of things.
 
What do I do now?
 
For me, I find it best to study the Bible when it’s quiet, when there are no distractions or other people around.
 
We read in Luke 24:45 of how when Jesus was with the disciples he ’opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures’.
 
In the same way, today the Holy Spirit still does this in our lives today.When you start to read any scripture pray that the Holy Spirit will open your mind and heart to understand and give you the needed insight to put God’s Word into action in your life.
 
I highlight the key words or sentences that have really stood out for me and cross reference with other Bible passages.This is particularly helpful when I’m not too sure what a passage means.I spend time thinking about what I have read and learnt and how can I apply this to my life.I use a life application study Bible and find it really useful as it gives me some background to the passage as well as cross references in other parts of the Bible.

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What other ways can we read?
 
Reading and studying the Bible with other Christians can be a great way of increasing your knowledge and understanding.As a small group, when you read a passage, different parts may stand out for different people and it can be really helpful to listen to each other and consult different commentaries.But remember, the Bible is the authority of God; His Living Word; commentaries and other people’s thoughts can be useful but our primary source is God’s Word and we should remain focussed on this as the foundation for our studies.
 
2 Timothy 3:16 says, ‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.’
 
Why read the Bible?
 
I read somewhere that reading the Bible isn’t a competition between Christians or a chore or homework, that we shouldn’t read the Bible just because that’s what we are supposed to do but rather that we should:
 
Read the Bible because it excites you.

Read the Bible because you want to know God.

Read the Bible because it’s living and active.

 ‘For the word of God is alive and active.  Sharper than any double edged sword.  It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12.

Read the Bible because it can speak powerful truth into your life right now.

Read the Bible so that your life reveals more of Christ.

The challenge to you all this week is to intentionally take the time to read your Bible, whether this is a passage you have read many times before or the start of a new study series.Listen to what God is saying to you through His Word and enjoy spending time getting to know Him better!
 

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