For Christmas this past season, I purchased an iPhone for my wife. I must say, it was a great gift and she was very pleased with my selection and color. What was interesting to us both was how a complex device has such easy instructions to begin. A very simple step by step instruction guide that was built into the phone.
So then, when it comes to studying the Bible, why does it seem so difficult? Think about it…There are 66 books in the bible in two sections the old / new testament, written over the course of 2000 years by 40 different writers contributing to the exact same story of the Messiah. Books written on history, philosophy, theological thinking, systematic thinking, poetry, music, personal letters to people, to churches, to countries, books on rules, parables or illustrations, sex, love, the future. Honestly, it can feel pretty overwhelming.
Where should I even begin?
You might feel like the Bible is difficult and hard to know where to start, and that’s okay. But it doesn’t need to feel that way, so I want to give you a few practical steps to get started:
Before you begin:
- Find a place that is quiet and uninterrupted for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Open your new Bible from Mission Hills Church to the Book of John. Consider purchasing a NIV Study Bible from Amazon or Lifeway Bookstores. I would recommend the Ryrie Study Bible.
- Get a notebook or journal to write your thoughts down in (when you write something down, you will remember it longer).
- Pray a simple prayer, talk to God and ask Him to open your heart and mind to His Word.
- Half of the battle is just getting started, and starting in Genesis can feel overwhelming. The book of John tells the story of Jesus’ ministry and is a great place to begin.
- Read a section of verses (5 to 10) with a natural break and ask the following 4 questions:
- Summary | What is the consistent theme of these verses?
- Observation | What are these verses saying?
- Interpretation | What do these verses mean?
- Application | What will I do about it?
- Personal Application is most important in reading and studying God’s Word. This is about allowing what God says in His world to change our hearts and lives.
- What is God saying to me in these verses?
- How am I going to apply these verses in my life?
- What changes am I seeing as a result of reading and applying God’s Word?
Just like anything, it may take time to create a rhythm and be disciplined. Don’t give up! Remember that reading the Bible isn’t about fulfilling a check list of verses to read, it’s about taking the time to meet with God, listen to Him and begin to hear His voice in your life – day to day.