How To Read The Bible
One of the first questions we ask is "how can I understand the bible"? The bible is a book that comes alive to Christians but lacks impact to those who don't believe. In today's devotion we will look at how to read the bible.
The best place to start is with the gospels, that is the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These books document the life of Jesus and help us to believe. They are at the beginning of the section called the New Testament. This is about three quarters of the way into your bible. Your bible should have a table of contents at the front so you can look up the various books of the bible. There are many translations of the bible available in English. In other languages there are often two or three translation available. If you look up the United Bible Societies home page on the Internet, they have many language translations available there. Try and get a bible that speaks to your heart in a language that you can understand and which is accurate to the original text. The bible was originally written in the Hebrew and Greek languages and has had to translated to all the languages of the world since. However it has always been very carefully translated and you can trust all the major bible translations.
When you read the bible take a pen and note book with you and write down the things you discover and the questions you have. Try and read about a chapter at a time and think it over carefully. Here are a few questions that will help you dig into the bible. What is this passage saying about God? What is this passage saying about Jesus? What is this passage saying about the Holy Spirit? Is there a command to obey? Is there a principal to learn? Is this saying something to my life right now? Is there a prayer I can pray? How can I apply it in my everyday life? Write the answers to these questions in your note book and you will soon build up a treasure house of scripture knowledge. It is important to pray as you read the bible. It doesn't have to be a long prayer, just something like "Dear God show me what this means and help me to obey".
It is good to read the bible in a quiet place relatively free from distraction. I read the bible in an armchair late at night when everyone else is asleep. Other people get up very early in the morning to read their bible and others find a quiet place at lunch time. There is no magic way to read the bible and it is not a magic book. You read it just like any other, using your mind and thinking hard and also allowing it to speak to your heart. As you keep reading you will find some things are said over and over again in the bible. These are the things that God wants us to pay most attention to. Commands like love one another, forgive those who have hurt you and do not judge people are in this category. These are the things you should major on. Do not get distracted into side issues or useless arguments. Read the bible to grow in Jesus Christ and to live better not to win arguments. (2 Timothy 2:14 NIV) Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.
There are some books to help you read to bible. The most common helps are concordances, bible dictionaries and commentaries. Any good Christian book store will have these. There are also some very good computer programs such as Quick Verse, Logos and the On Line Bible to help you study scripture. Why not go now and start reading about the birth of Jesus in Matthew chapter 1.
Other articles in this series include:
1. How To Be Sure You Really Are A Christian
2. How To Read The Bible
3. How To Pray
4. What Is God Like?
5. What Has Happened To Me?
6. Meeting God's People
7. Breaking Free From Sin
8. What About Heaven and Hell?
9. What About My Friends?
10. Loving Your Neighbor
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