Thursday, October 30, 2008

10 things about how to read the bible

Tonight at Alpha we are exploring the bible so I thought I would post some thoughts and resources:

1. Get yourself a bible. There are masses of different versions but I recommend the New International Version or the New Living Translation as the best. If you want a wider resource then it's hard to beat the excellent new ESV Study bible. If you want a paraphrase then the best is the Message.

2. Start reading the bible. If you have never read the bible 30 Days by Nicky Gumbell is a great starter or if you want a bible and notes combination 'The purpose-driven life' is a good one. If you are an iphone person or more techy then Scripture Union's Word Live might be an option or the Encounter with God daily notes. The book I used to read the bible all the way through was called 'Your daily walk' so it may be helpful for you too.

3. Find a time and place to read the bible. Steven Covey says it takes 30 days to form a habit so try and allocate a time, perhaps 15 minutes, to do this each day.

4. Read with a pen- I keep a journal which acts as a record of the things that I am reading and praying. Underlining, copying out verses, asking questions and noting thoughts. The best book on journalling I have come across is How to keep a spiritual journal by Ron Klug

5. Find a good guide. Mine is Don Carson in his excellent 'For the Love of God' but there are plenty of bible commentators like John Stott 'The Bible through the year' , Selwyn Hughes Cover to cover or Conversations by Eugene Peterson. I would also commend the classic Gordon Fee book How to read the bible for all its worth and How to read the bible book by book.. If you want some real meat on biblical study and interpretation then this list of books is good.

6. Pray what you read. This simply means that we pray back to God the things he says through his word. Reading will prompt all sorts of prayers-thanks, confession, reminders of God's promises, guidance, future hopes etc.

7. Start simple. Many give up bible reading because they take on too much and dive into Leviticus from the off. Start by reading a Gospel (Mark) or a letter (Philippians) and read a little bit each day.

8. Persevere . The word of God is the richest of food and Jesus said that we need God's truth for our sustenance. Some days you will encounter 'wondrous things' as Psalm 119 says, but on others you may not. Keep on reading and praying.

9. Read the bible with others. Joining a small group to read and discuss Scripture is a great way to grow to enjoy the bible. If you do, try and join a good one with lively debate, prayer, worship and one that is lead well. It makes all the difference.

10. Read expecting to encounter Jesus. The bible is God's salvation story and its pages reveal Jesus to us. All the Scripture speaks of Christ so always read with the Gospel in mind. There is good news to see and understand even when the story seems to be going off track or appears difficult to understand.

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