The WORD is living…we don’t need to ‘bring it to life.’ We need to bring our lives to life by weaving the Truth into our days. This is much more than reading a command or a promise and then seeking its fulfillment in your reality. The Bible is literature as well as life. Reading is a practical matter as well as a spiritual one. As this new year opens up before us, I wanted to share some tips and incentives to help those who want to feast on the Word but have not yet found the right ‘recipe.’
Choose a translation
I have favorite translations but my favorite understanding about which is best is this:
The best translation is the one you will read.
We don’t commit to that which we cannot understand. Are some translations more accurately aligned with the original? Yes. Are some translations more challenging to read? Yes. Is the Holy Spirit necessary in any reading? Yes. Find a translation that you literally can read and follow what is being said. Use the multiplicity of online sites to explore the translations before you invest your money. Bible Gateway is one of my favorites.
Remember: The Bible tells the story of God…a seamless story from Genesis to Revelation. Before you read the Bible, pray. Ask God to give you insight into Himself as you read. It is HIS Story! Look for Him in it. Ask for His help.
Choose a version.
We live in a world that offers hundreds of versions of the Scriptures. The first version I read through provided daily reading options. It included selections from the Old & New Testaments, Proverbs and Psalms. I read quickly, so that first trip through only required a 15-20 minute per day investment. It worked well because there was variety in the reading–even when I was in a ‘begat’ passage in one section, I had other sections that kept me pressing on.
There are dozens of other versions though that emphasize various aspects of the Word:
- chronological – pulls all of the verses pertaining to a time period together and presents His story in time order
- historical – aligns Bible history with secular events
- study – provide topical assists and cross-references
Christian Book Distributors is a great resource to check these out.
Choose a plan
The real world is busy. If we don’t make conscious choices about how we will spend our time, we still make choices. The only way to decide to do something is to decide and do it. Reading the Bible is no different. Choose the plan (e.g. time and place) that you feel will work for you and get at it.
Don’t forget the options that electronics allow. Use a Bible App and let the phone read it to you as you drive to work. Or use an online Bible like E-Sword. Remember: the best Bible is the one you will use!
When you miss a day, pick back up the next day. The calendar is not the driving force of reading through the Bible. Determine to do it and do it….whether it takes you 365 days or 100 days or 30 days or 3000 days. Just do it. A plan is like a budget; it is a framework that you aim to live within. Make adjustments as you need to.
Enjoy the Feast!
The Bible nourishes life. As you sit down to read, enter into the reading. Let yourself be part of the words on the page. Imagine the feelings of the ones you read about. Consider the sounds and the setting described. Ask questions of the text. I often write these things down as I go or I will lose them as I read. It’s common for me to jot down things like “Really?” or “How could that be?” God will meet you in the questions; He will answer them if you ask and listen to the answer. The Word is timeless. What was True–really TRUE–is True. Truth is not situational or cultural; it is timeless.
An example from my time in the Word this morning might help clarify this vital piece. I am back in Genesis. I read this morning how Abel became a herder of sheep and Cain coaxed fruit from the ground. It struck me: one nurtured life and one focused on working the ground that was cursed. My questions from that were:
- What does it look like in my life when I nurture life?
- What does it look like when I ‘work the cursed ground?’
When you ask questions of God, be sure to take time to listen. He speaks quietly in our heart. He speaks through circumstances and people. He often says things that challenge us and require us to turn or press on beyond our comfort zone. But He is worthy!