On Sunday December 27, we are going to celebrate “Bible Reading Sunday.” Hearing from God in the Bible is the focus of every one of our gatherings but on this Sunday, we are going to be focusing on our personal Bible reading and we will be unveiling a 90-day reading plan that will lead us through all four Gospels between New Year’s Day and Easter. You can find the plan at this link: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/8868 We will also have booklets available that have the passages listed for each day with a place to take notes.
As we spend time reading through the Gospels each day during this journey together what should we be looking for? How do we read the Bible in a way that allows us to meet with God and be transformed by Him? Here are a few hints that may be helpful as we read together.
#1 – Make an Appointment – We make appointments for the things that we really don’t want to miss. I already have my daughter’s college graduation on my calendar because there is not a chance that I’m going to miss it. It’s important to me so I make an appointment and block that time out. We don’t ever want to miss our daily time with God, so make sure you set a time and make an appointment. Don’t let the hecticness of life crowd out what is most important in your day.
#2 – Pray – The primary reason we read our Bible isn’t to be entertained or even to gain information. The primary reason we read our Bible is to meet with the Living God. Reading the Bible is a relational process, and we want to start by praying and recognizing God’s presence. While we are reading the Scripture, we want to be carrying on a prayerful dialogue with Him about what we are reading.
#3 – Be Attentive – As we are spending time in the Bible, we want to recognize that we aren’t just completing our Bible reading for the day, we are meeting with our Maker, Savior and Lord. We want to pay close attention to what He is saying so we eliminate things that might be a distraction to meeting with God so that we can spend quality time with Him. I find it helpful to have a notebook next to me where I can write my thoughts and journal prayers to God. Writing helps me focus on what I am reading.
#4 – Discover the Meaning – When the author wrote the section of Scripture that we are reading he had a meaning that he conveyed to his original readers through his words. It is our job to do our best to understand the author’s original meaning. We don’t get to just assign any meaning we want to a passage or else we can make the Bible say anything we want and all kinds of things it was never intended to say. The context of the passage helps us to understand the meaning that was intended. Context is so important to meaning that we want to make sure we are always using a Bible reading plan that allows us to look at whole passages and books of the Bible so we can see the context of each of the verses we are reading. Having a good study Bible can be very helpful when we encounter passages that we have questions about or don’t understand. The notes in a study Bible are put together by scholars who have studied the Scripture in their original languages and are considered experts. Their opinions and thoughts can help us when we struggle to understand the meaning for ourselves.
#5 – Find the Principle – There is always a big principle within the passages that we read. If we read a longer section, we may encounter more than one big principle. Understanding this big principle is essential if God is going to speak into our life in a transformational way. If we read 1 Corinthians 8, a passage that is about meat sacrificed to idols, we may be tempted to bypass its teaching as irrelevant for our society where we don’t eat meat sacrificed to idols. But as we look at the passage closer, we realize that the big principle of the passage is to always be willing to sacrifice your rights if it helps your sister or brother grow in Christ. This principle has applications in all kinds of areas in our lives. We want to make sure that we are discovering the big principle as we read a passage in the Scripture.
#6 – Praise God –The Bible is written to tell us about how amazing God is. My selfish nature wants the Bible to be about me and I want to only apply the Bible to my life. However, there are large chunks of the Bible that are exclusively dedicated to teaching us about how amazing God is and I won’t have a use for these chunks of Scripture if I am only focused on applying things to myself. As we read through a passage we always want to be asking, how we can praise and exalt God because of what we are reading and praise Him constantly as we read?
#7 – Apply the Principle – God’s Word is living and active and the Holy Spirit uses it to impress conviction and encouragement upon our hearts and minds. We want to respond to that by applying the big principle in our life each time we read. There may be an action we need to take, a conversation we need to have, or a new direction we need to go. Whatever the big principle is in the passage, we want to make sure to apply it immediately so that we are doers of the Word and not hearers only.
I hope you will find these practices helpful as you engage with the Word of God each day. Join us for Bible Reading Sunday on December 27 and we look forward to reading the Gospels with you in the New Year.