The Bible – We should all be reading, reflecting, and studying the Bible because it is God’s gift written especially for us. God uses this book, also known as “God’s Word” or “The Scriptures,” to proclaim his deep and abiding love towards us by showing how we can live a Godly and glorious life.
Written by different authors and editors, the Bible is our guidebook for living — our main source for clear guidance on His will for our lives. Many themes are within the pages of the Holy Bible, such as redemption, forgiveness, judgment, Holy Spirit, instruction, and faith. The Scriptures consist of 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament. The Old Testament covers the creation of the earth, the lives of Israelites throughout history, many prophecies about the coming of Jesus Christ and more. The New Testament covers the life of Jesus and the writings of his early apostles and disciples through the prophecies regarding the end times in Revelations. Below is an easy breakdown of the 66 books of the Bible.
- The Pentateuch [The Law]: Genesis – Deuteronomy
- Historical: Joshua – Esther
- Poetry and Wisdom: Job – Song of Songs
- Major Prophets: Isaiah – Daniel
- Minor Prophets: Hosea – Zephaniah
- The Gospels and Acts: Matthew – Acts
- Paul’s Letters: Romans – Philemon
- General Epistles – Hebrews – Jude
The Bible answers big questions about God, i.e. where do we go when we die, why is there so much evil in this world, how do I know who to marry, what house should I buy. But, it also answers our everyday questions like — how can I pass this test; where should I go to college; and how can I stop sinning. Many people do not think the Bible is relevant in their lives. In 2013, Religion News took a poll and discovered that “more than half of Americans think the Bible has too little influence on a culture they see in moral decline, yet only one in five Americans read the Bible on a regular basis.”¹
Many believe that the reason why the Bible isn’t meaningful to people is because they just don’t read the Word of God. Biblical values and teachings can help us tremendously in our spiritual walk, but they cannot help us if we don’t read the Word and know what it says. And, this is why we need to know how to read it, reflect upon it, and study it.
There are different ways to view the time one spends in God’s Word. And, it is necessary to understand the differences.
Reading the Bible
This is where one reads the Bible for personal enlightenment. Many read the Bible during their daily quiet time or devotional time. When one is reading for their personal edification, reading is usually at a quite leisurely pace. However, it can turn into an intense pleading or calling out to God for answers.
As a rule, sitting around with a bunch of concordances, Bible dictionaries, or Christian theological books is not the preferred reading here. Reading to see what God is saying personally and getting to know God better should be the goal during this reading time. It is an occasion to learn more about God, his precepts, and character, and how He desires to mature you in your faith. This is the reading time that allows God to speak to you personally through His Word.
Tips for your devotional time
- Try to sit in the same chair/place each sitting;
- Use a Bible reading plan so you will already know where in the Bible you are going to start reading;
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide your reading;
- Focus on verses or chapters relating to what is going on in your life or the life of family and/or friends;
- Have a journal or notebook handy so you are ready to write important verses, thoughts, or promptings down;
- Have a pen, pencil, and/or highlighter readily available;
On a personal level, I like to use a Bible without all the study notes and footnotes during my quiet time. I have found the notes distract me from just plain old reading God’s Word. I want the Word to speak to me and not feel obligated to read what someone else has said about the verses I am reading; although, I have had to look up a few things along the way. But, that is a personal preference. There is no right or wrong way to have a devotional time – personalize it to fit your likes and personality.
Reflecting on the Bible [Meditating]
Reflecting on God’s Word is the time one spends just contemplating what you have read or heard. Giving time to think about what has been read or presented is powerful. During meditation time, one should remain in a prayerful mode internalizing the Scriptures so it can become ingrained in our life. Don’t allow yourself to be hooked into any special technique or program during this reflective time. These can easily become so legalistic that one could have difficulty absorbing the significance God has for your time here. Remain in a prayerful spirit and as 1 Chronicles 22:19 states, “Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God.” In your spirit, listen to the Lord. It is here where we can really internalize God’s Word so it becomes so ingrained in our life that the Bible principles and God’s values and His character become our own. It is quite possible that during this time, one will be prompted to involve themselves in benevolent activities, i.e. calling someone in a nursing home, writing a letter, offering your time or service to someone in need.
Studying the Bible
A comprehensive study of the Scriptures is what is involved here. This can be achieved by spreading out all your commentaries and Bible study tools on the dining room table and studying a person, character trait, or historical event; attending an in-depth Bible study program; participating in a Bible seminar; and many more such things. Studying the Bible and trying to understand it in the correct context is applicable in this kind of studying. The Bible covers a long period of history and many cultures and ages. During a study such as this, one should plan out their study and decide if a group study or individual study is best for the purpose desired. Being organized is the key to developing a productive study time. Pastors and Sunday school teachers frequently spend hours at a time studying and developing their sermons or classes respectively. Studying God’s Word this way requires a lot of research skills, concentration, and prayer. It is very important that you become familiar with Bible doctrine if you are studying deeply, especially if you are studying to equip others, so you take care not to lead others astray.
Whitney T. Kuniholm, President of Scripture Union/USA says, “Be careful not to be arrogant in the course of studying. It’s so easy to boast of your findings rather than prayerfully meditate on the. Studying extensively is good. Remember even those who are illiterates can have a deeper understanding of the Word and deeper relationships with God than you because they meditate on it. Simply knowing names and things is not good enough. You must practice and preach what you practice.”²
This information might be overwhelming to you. Being a student of God takes time. Your style develops over time. When I was younger, I never wanted to write because I felt like there were so many good writers out there and that I could never compare to them. It was only through my devotional time and Bible study that I began to realize that God makes us all different and even our writing styles vary. Your Bible study times should be geared to your personality. Maybe you like to sit outside on your back porch and read your Bible; maybe you like to participate in an in-depth Bible study at someone’s home; maybe you like to reflect in the park. Whatever works for you, do it. Don’t put off being taught by the Word of God. Get organized and get going.
As for me, in 2016, my serious Bible study time will take place at my dining room table, but for my quiet and reflective time, you will find me in my upholstered recliner in our downstairs library with my freshly brewed Folger’s Classic coffee placed neatly on the marble table next to my chair. How about you?
Bible Reading Programs [You may need to sign up]:
God’s Word is profitable to mankind. The Bible . . .
- Is Flawless; Psalm 18:30
- Is right and true; Psalm 33:4
- Gives understanding to the simple; Psalm 119:130
- Gives us hope; Psalm 130:5
- Is what every man should live on; Matthew 4:4
- Makes us wise; Matthew 7:24
- Will never pass away; Matthew 24:35
- Was in the beginning; John 1:1
- Will set us free; John 8:31-32
- Shows us how to get to heaven; John 14:6
- Allows us to ask whatever we wish and it will be done; John 15:7
- Equips us to be used by God; Ephesians 6:17
- Is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness the word of life; 2 Timothy 3:16-17
- Sustains all things; Hebrews 1:3
- Judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart; Hebrews 4:12
- Will keep us from moral filth and evil; James 1:21
- Shows us how much God loves us; 1 John 4:19
Dear heavenly Father. Let me start the New Year with a deep desire to know you more and more. Allow your Holy Spirit to infiltrate my life so that desire stays strong and active all the way from January through December. Help me to organize a plan for reading my Bible every day and give me the stick-to-itiveness to follow through. It is my earnest desire to become more Christ-like as I read your Holy Word and pray this year. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
¹ Bell, Caleb. “Poll: Americans love the Bible but don’t read it much”. Religion News. April 4, 2013.
Web. December 27, 2015. www.religionnews.com.
² “How to Study the Bible.” Wikihow. Web. December 27, 2015. http://m/wikihow.com/Study-the-Bible.