How to Read the Bible for Yourself - Part 2

This is part two of "How to Read the Bible for Yourself". To check out part one of click here.

7. Develop the Daily Discipline of Spending Time with God

This is often called a quiet time. It doesn’t matter what you call it but you need to form the habit of daily spending time with the Lord in word and prayer. Bible study can be like any skill. Practice does make perfect. The more you read the Bible the more you will understand and the new treasure you will discover. Not only do you need the Word for your own soul each and every day, the daily discipline of studying the Bible makes you a better Bible reader.

If you have not developed this habit in your life, this is the most important you need to begin to do immediately. You need to study God’s word daily.

8. Get a Daily Bible Reading Plan

Nothing gets done unless you plan. Sometimes the hardest part about Bible reading is, where to begin. A Bible reading plan moves you through different parts of the Bible at a regular, consistent, and daily pace. It can help chart the course for you in what to read each day. If you just simply google “bible reading plan” you can find hundreds of different types. I’d recommend that you pick one that moves you at a good pace throughout all of the Bible. The discipline of using a Bible reading plan forces us to work through passages we tend to avoid. In addition, it helps us from just jumping to our favorite passages all the time. It helps us to come face to face with the whole counsel of God.

Now how much should you read each day? Well it is largely up to you. I you can only handle a chapter or two a day and you really dig in and study it, than go for it. If you read a brisker paced want to take 8–10 chapters a day, than go for it. There is no hard and fast rule to follow here.

My personal plan, if you are interested, is that I read five chapters every day. Each year I keep a checklist of every book of the Bible. I tend to focus on one book at a time, meaning I’ll read five chapters from it everyday until I’m done with a particular book. When done with the book I check it off and choose which one I’d like to read next.  This why I have a disciplined structure but still freedom in what I will read. I find this is helpful for me to take breaks from certain genres that tend to be a little more taxing. For example a few weeks ago I read through Leviticus. Although reading it was fruitful, It was mentally draining so I jumped over to the Gospel of John which was narrative and a little easier to read. With the plan I use I’m guaranteed to read the Bible once ever year, and it gives me the freedom and flexibility to go where the Spirit leads.

Whatever your plan, the important thing is that you read the Word every day!

9. Apply it to Your Life with Journaling

My thoughts are often clouded and jump all over the place. Writing helps me focus my thoughts. This is especially helpful with studying and applying the Bible. Taking some time after reading a passage and writing about what I learned can be very helpful. Journaling helps me think through how I can apply it to my life. I’d encourage you to try the same. I am a journal digitally and my go to app for journaling is Day One.

10. Memorize Bible Verses

If you really want to learn to read the Bible for yourself, memorize it. When you memorize passages of Scripture you saturate your mind with the Word. The Spirit then can bring that verse in application to your life at any moment in addition he deepens your understanding of that verse. I’d encourage you to make scripture memory a regular part of your time with God. Start off with taking just a verse a week. Rehearse each day and then review weekly.

For those of you that are serious about Bible memorization, let me encourage you to memorize extended passages of Scripture. This is a discipline I began earlier this year and has done wonders in my relationship with the Lord. For how I’ve gone about it check out Andy Davis’ An Approach to Extended Scripture Memorization. Using his method I’ve memorized the book of Philippians and I’m currently working on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7). It takes a good 20–30 minutes for me to reverse and memorize each day, but the fruit it has brought in my life is worth it.

11. Start a Bible Study with your Friends

We tend to have a “just me and Jesus” attitude when it comes to reading the Bible. Yet, Christ has given us the church for a reason. We need one another and often the Spirit teaches us through one another. If you want to learn to read the Bible for yourself start a Bible study with you friends. Meet before work or on your lunch break with some friends once a week just to study the Bible together. You will be amazed as your friends bring new meaning to a text that you largely missed. Reading in community can be an encouragement to everyone, so start a Bible study with your friends.

12. Get Involved in Your Churches Bible Studies

I’m sure your local church involves a lot of different Bible studies. Get involved in them! Listen to how the teachers of the church interpret the Bible. Ask questions, go deep, discuss the Bible with the people in the class. Learn how to read the Bible from other people. It will help you greatly in reading the Bible for yourself!

13. What How Your Pastor Interprets the Bible When Preaching

If you have a good pastor, he carefully teaches the Bible. I preach every week to my people at Forest Hills and I’m not only trying to teach the what the Bible says I’m trying to teach them how to read the Bible for themselves. So when I have a point in my sermon I want them to see that I’m not making it up, and where it comes from in the Bible. Watch how your pastor reads his Bible, listen how he arrives at the main points and learn to study the Bible like your pastor does. Follow his example.

14. See Jesus in Every Text

All of Scripture points to Jesus. To miss this is miss the message of the Bible. Jesus says, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,” (John 5:39, ESV). At another point Jesus on the road to Emmaus showed the two disciples how every Scripture pointed to him. Read your Bible and see how every passage points you to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This doesn’t mean we force Jesus in every passage, but we see how every passage points to him or anticipates him. Much could be said on this point, but for now I’ll point you to a few resources to check out.

15. Read the Bible!

Sounds simple doesn’t it? If you want to read the Bible for yourself, start reading it! If you want to get better at personal Bible study you are not going to get any better at it unless you read it. No one learns how to ride a Bike by reading blog posts, books, and articles on how to ride a Bike. You’ve got to get not he Bike and just start peddling! Bible studies the same way. Start reading the Bible and you will be amazed how God will begin speaking to you through his infallible and inerrant Word.

I hope these fifteen tips have been helpful for you as you try to read the Bible for yourself. What tips would you offer? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

Five Bad Bible Readers

How is your time in God’s Word?  Do you study the Bible with intensity, consistency, and passion? Many Christians struggle with spending time daily in God’s word.  A lot of times it is because we have the wrong attitude when it comes to reading the Bible.  Which of the following five people sounds like you?

1. Justifying Janet

Janet reads God's word just to make themselves feel good about whatever decision they have already decided. If they want a tattoo, they go to the Bible to see if its ok. If they want to drink alcohol, they find verses that prove their point.  If they want to date a person whose not a Christian they scrounge around finding any evidence in God's word that makes their own oppinion seem right. Janet’s approach to God's word is disastrous because she is not conforming herself to God's Word, she is making God's Word conform to her.

 2. Legalistic Larry

Legalistic Larry opens the Bible because he feels the pressure of his Pastor telling him he needs too. Larry is the kind of guy who will become filled with motivation at the beginning of a new year, pick out a Bible reading plan and force himself to do it day in and day out. Larry treats the Bible like an item on the “to do” list he needs to check off each day. He has no desire to hear from God or to know God better, he is merely reading his Bible because it is the right thing for a good Christian person to do. He reads his Bible out of guilt, not joy. And in the end Larry will become very good at reading his Bible forcefully and rigidly and thus become proud and arrogant, or he will struggle and feel worthless.

 3. Out-of-Context Oscar

Oscar opens up his Bible and finds some verses that he loves and enjoys. Oscar has a very minimal knowledge of God's word and comes back to a few verses that he knows and uses them over and over again out of context. This is the person who uses Philippians 4:13 as proof that God is going to let him win his Football game. Oscar tends to love the encouraging verses all the while ignoring the ones that asks him to do difficult things like, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Mt 16:24) , "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me”(Mt 10:37) No, Oscar doesn't read any of these verses, he will just stick with the ones on his Christian Coffee Cup.

4. Passionate Penny

Penny gets really excited about reading the Bible for short periods of time. She will go to a conference and hear some awesome speakers and get really excited about reading her Bible when she gets back home. She will dive into the Bible throughout the day for about a week. Then the passion and excitement from the conference wears off like a druggy coming off a high, and pretty soon the Bible is back on the book shelf collecting dust. Penny has no consistency or discipline to keep going when it is tough, so she waits around till the next conference where she will get excited again about her relationship with God and studying His word.

 5. Academic Anthony

Anthony is the guy that loves knowledge. He loves to study and analyze the Bible. He is a proud expert on Bible trivia and can list off all 12 tribes of Israel in alphabetical order, by the Hebrew alphabet of course (English is for lazy Christians). Anthony knows all the background information about the Bible and he will not hesitate to tell you everything you want to know about the author and structure of a book in the Bible. He uses big words like parallelism when discussing Hebrew Poetry all the while failing to allow the text of scripture to change his heart and his mind.  Anthony's pride and arrogance in academics has put a wall around his heart and keeping the Holy Spirit from working as he studies the Bible. Although Anthony knows a lot about the Bible he doesn't really know the Bible.  Anthony sees the Bible as a textbook to study and analyze, but never truth to be applied.

Which of these five people are you most like? Which one do you most relate too? So often we approach reading the Bible like these five people. As a Christian we need to regularly study God's Word through prayerful reading, meditation, and application. Why? Because through God's inspired word, we get to know and savor our God and King. We get to see who God is and what he has done through his son Jesus Christ.  We get the opportunity to hear from God as he speaks to us, convicts us, and restores us through the consistent washing of His word. Be weary of reading your Bible like one of these five people mentioned. Be like the wise and blessed man in Psalm 1 whose "delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night." (v. 2).

Take Delight in God's Word today and spend the remainder of your life meditating on His word and may we say, "With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!" (Ps 119:10)