The Bible is a big book. But it is without a doubt the best book ever written. No matter how many times I’ve read a particular passage, it never fails to provide fresh insight. And I never fail to discover something new in the worn out pages of my Bible.
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
So where do you begin? How do you get into the Bible? How do you allow it to penetrate your mind and soak into your soul? There are countless Bible reading plans, daily devotionals, etc. that can serve as a useful guide and provide a starting point. If you are an “app user” – my favorite app is YouVersion. Whether you choose to select one of the many devotionals and reading plans available or just use the “Verse of the Day” as a starting point, it’s a great way to have God’s Word at your fingertips. (I like to have my printed Bible alongside it so I can continue to highlight verses and make notes. Having my Bible all marked up makes it feel “lived in”.)
One you’ve picked a method to guide you, you have to set aside a time every day to read your Bible. Even just fifteen minutes. Schedule it like you schedule doctor appointments or work meetings. Most people won’t miss something they’ve scheduled. Then be prepared for Satan to come along and throw all sorts of “good reasons” at you to miss your appointment with the Bible. You might have a headache. Or your house is a mess. Or you’ll over sleep. Don’t let him win. Just the act of opening your Bible and reading the verse(s) aloud will shut him up! And if you do miss your appointment, don’t hesitate to show up late or comeback tomorrow. God always accepts walk-ins!
Remember to involve God in your daily Bible time. Pray that through the power of the Holy Spirit you will have understanding of his Word and that it will provide you a fresh message to store in your heart.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11
Once you’ve decided on what you’re reading, be sure to give it context. If there is a certain verse that speaks to you, read the whole passage surrounding it. (Don’t cherry pick and try to apply a single verse to your life without understanding it in context.)
Finally, think about what you learned and how you can apply it. Sometimes it might be a story that provides insight into who God is and how he responds to his people. Sometimes it might be a lesson to learn from the choices and consequences of a Biblical character. Sometimes it’s a specific instruction to be applied to your life. Sometimes it’s a word of encouragement or a promise of God to hold on to. Sometimes it’s a prophetic word about God’s future plans for his people and for this world. Whatever it is – allow it to really permeate your heart. If you’re a writer, write it down. Write yourself a note about what it meant to you. Write out a prayer to God confirming what he showed you. If you’re not a writer, speak it out loud – even in a soft whisper. Share it with someone else. “You know what I learned in the Bible today?” Determine to allow it to impact your life.
And definitely do what you can to memorize Bible verses. Nothing is more powerful than being able to recall God’s words when life happens. (To be honest, my Bible memorization isn’t an exact science. I know a lot of verses, even if not word for word, that I can find when I need to. And I also don’t always know the exact location, but I can usually get close when I need to look it up. Often I know the street, but maybe not the house number. This is why I am thankful for the search tool in my Bible app.)
I promise you that if you make it a practice to read God’s word, you will continue to hunger for it. And the more you read it, the more you will understand who God is and why you’re here. Nothing will give you a greater peace through all life has in store for you than the living Word of God!