Getting the Most Out of Bible Reading

One of my favorite authors, Margaret Feinberg, sent out her e-newsletter today with this valuable handful of tips, tricks and reminders for reading the Bible. If you’ve ever read any of Margaret’s books or heard her speak, you can tell she has a genuine and deep love for the Scriptures and has learned how to gain knowledge, insight and understanding from it.  I’ve never read one of her books without my Bible close by because she inevitably causes me to want to study the Bible even more.

If you need a refresher or are new to Bible reading, consider this advice from Margaret {with some of my notes in brackets}:

1. Begin in Prayer. As you begin to read, do so prayerfully. Ask God to open your eyes and heart to His truth and what He is going to reveal to you. The amazing thing about the Bible is that each time you read something new may grab your attention—a word, phrase, or story that you may not have noticed before. Prayerfully take notice of the themes or words that God is echoing to you.  {Ending in prayer is also good…ask God to help you do what it says}

2. Celebrating God-Breathed Scripture. The Bible is the primary way God communicates and reveals Himself to His people. Remember: Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. (2 Tim 3:16) As you read, keep this passage in mind. Ask how the text you’re reading is teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training you in righteousness.

3. Context, Context, Context. Each passage should be read in context—within the text itself and in the cultural context. Head to a library or seminary and peek at commentaries or Bible dictionaries for help understanding cultural nuances. A great (free) resource is www.blueletterbible.org. Discuss any questions you have with friends and pastors.

4. Listen to An Audio Bible. If you’re struggling to read your Bible, consider downloading or streaming a free audiobook Bible that allows you to listen to God’s Word wherever you are. Scripture comes alive when you sit back and listen to God’s story unfold. {There is evidence that when we use different mediums of learning, we learn in deeper and more meaningful ways.  Additionally, if you have trouble focusing when reading, or need something to listen to while folding laundry or driving… audio Bible is awesome}

5. Read in Pinches. Sometimes tackling entire books or genres in one sitting can leave you drowsy. Instead, challenge yourself to read a handful of chapters or stories and then take a break. Use that time to pray, jot down questions, and simply rest your eyes. {This is particularly helpful for moms of tiny ones}

6. Memorize passages. Whether you’ve attended church your whole life or are just learning the rhythms of Christ’s grace, meditating on and memorizing Scripture can be a rewarding adventure! Begin by memorizing short verses and continue to challenge yourself to memorize longer sections. Ask a friend or small group to join you and hold you accountable in the process.

7. The Old Meets the New. In God’s perfect story, the New Testament is hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is revealed in the New. Keep an eye out for references to the Messiah in the Old Testament and repeated Old Testament Scripture in the New. Perhaps grab a specific color pen or highlighter and mark when you see these instances pop up.

8. Jesus is the Reason. The good news of Christ is central to the entire story of Scripture—from Genesis to Revelation. God’s plan of redemption was in place from the beginning. Celebrate the story along the way.

9. Transformed by the Word. As we spend time reading, studying, and obeying the Scripture, we will naturally be transformed into likeness of Christ. You may find yourself overflowing with love, grace, and kindness. You may find that you are far more self-controlled and patient. The fruit of studying God’s Word and putting it into practice is becoming more like Christ.

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