Reading & Studying Scripture
A year ago, I read multiple chapters of Scripture daily, taking in the whole story. This year, I spent weeks reading just a few books, specifically the Psalms, Luke, and Romans, thinking deeply about what they had to say.
Is there one right way to read or study the Bible?
Why read Scripture daily?
- We read Scripture daily, first, to build our relationship with the author. God reveals His character and purposes in His words. The more we read them, the more we will understand who He is, and what He is about.
- Reading daily, we become familiar with the language, the stories, and the people of Scripture. That familiarity helps us understand the more difficult passages; we can use the plain-speaking Scripture to help us interpret the more complex passages.
- Our appreciation for the Word grows as we read daily.
Check out the podcast, Shaped By the Word, sponsored by Christ Church Cedar Park (wherever you get your podcasts!). A new season begins this week … reading this year through the prophets.
Why read through the Bible?
- Reading through the Bible reveals the “big” story arc of Scripture, the redemptive plan of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.
- When we read through the Bible, we become familiar with the more complex passages and expose ourselves to the full account of the Bible. It becomes less of a set of morality tales or self-help tips.
- By practicing reading daily, we establish the habit of reading Scripture often, and those daily minutes add up to hours in the Word.
Just over one-fourth of U.S. adults (26%) read the Bible once a week or more, while over half (60%) read the Bible less than twice a year (including “never”). (2022 Research from the American Bible Society)
What about Bible Study
I recently visited the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. Driving through the park was beautiful and helped me get a lay of the land of that park. Then when we left the car to walk a particular loop and could get up close to rock formations, we could see the strata in the rock, notice the differences in the vegetation surrounding individual rocks, and take in the details. Bible reading is a drive through the park, and Bible study is a close-up walk to see the details.
- Bible study grows out of a healthy habit of Bible reading.
- Studying the Bible involves a deeper dive into a passage, chapter or book. Learning consists of looking at the immediate context, the full-Bible context, the structure of the text, and the meanings of the words and phrases.
- One way to incorporate Bible study is to reflect on the scriptures in your pastor’s weekly sermons. The weekly sermon becomes more than a one-off sit-and-get by reflecting on those scriptures, reviewing your Sunday notes, and asking God to deepen your understanding.
Check out The Gospel Coalition resources if you want a free fall Bible study resource. Some of the books have more resources than others.
The Bible Project also is building a classroom of courses.
Check theirs out as well!
Tips for Reading/Studying the Bible
- Pray before you begin! “Open my eyes so that I may contemplate wondrous things from your instruction” (Psalm 119:18 CSB).
- Work a reading plan–
- Set the timer on your phone for 10 minutes, set it face down, and read until it rings. At this rate you could read any of the 4 gospels in 2 weeks, or all four of them in 2 months. Actually, if you can set that timer for just a few more minutes, say 12 – 15 minutes a day, you will have time to read the whole Bible in a year!
- Find Bible.com’s YouVersion app for your phone. Choose a plan that works for you.
- Purchase a “one-year” Bible
- Write down a few comments or questions, or at least write down the 1 verse that resonates deeply or sparks your curiosity.
- What does this passage say, the main idea?
- What does this passage mean to those who heard it the first time?
- What does the passage say about me and my transformation?
- Pray as you end – “Use your word today, Lord, to teach, rebuke, correct, and train me. May I delight in your law and not forget your word” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 & Psalm 119:16)
Hymn of Praise
Holy Bible, book divine,
Precious treasure, thou art mine;
Mine to tell me whence I came,
Mine to teach me what I am:
Mine to chide me when I rove;
Mine to show a Savior’s love;
Mine thou art to guide and guard;
Mine to punish or reward;
Mine to comfort in distress,
Suffering in this wilderness;
Mine to show by living faith,
Man can triumph over death;
Mine to tell of joys to come,John Burton, 1803
And the rebel sinner’s doom;
O thou holy book divine,
Precious treasure, thou art mine.