I get the picture: God created the world and humanity, He brought His people through unfathomable trials, and He sent His Son to take the consequence of our sins. Yet, there are so many answers that I know are in the Bible that I don't fully comprehend. Each time I read a chapter of Scripture, I understand it more than the last, but there are some topics where I don't even know where to begin. I can easily look up verses for comfort and wisdom, but learning takes intention. The first time I set out to read the whole Bible, I read it chronologically. I was a bit befuddled once I got past Genesis and skipped over some portions (particularly the long lists of ancestors). I learned not to read the Bible like one long, suspenseful novel, although it holds many intriguing (And true!) stories that all arc into the most incredible message ever told. Now, I focus on understanding one chapter at a time. Here are five steps that help me read the Bible with more intention:
Whether it's your first time reading the Bible or you're looking for specific wisdom, the Gospels of Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are the perfect place to start. The life of Jesus shows me the character I should strive for, and His sacrifice reminds me of the grace I have received. When I read passages in the Old Testament, I have more clarity when I read it through the lens of what God was planning. Once we grasp how powerful yet simple it is to have a relationship with Jesus, we have a foundation for everything else we learn.
As I read the Bible, I genuinely enjoy comprehending the writers' perspectives and seeing how people, thousands of years ago, faced the same emotional “journeys” that I do. Without understanding the Bible, people will try to pass it off as a dry book of commands - and many of those people are Christians. God's Word comes from Him, but it was brought forth through real people with real-life experiences at a certain point in history. Knowing the different genres and viewpoints which make up the Bible, it's impossible to see it as a black-and-white instruction manual. The Bible was just as meaningful to anyone who read it before the age of Google, but it doesn't hurt to use the tools available to us for understanding. One of my favorite resources is The Bible Project, which provides creative videos and podcasts on a wide variety of biblical projects. There are a lot of complex topics in the Bible, and it can seem like they don't affect our lives. However, every word in Scripture has a purpose, no matter who the reader is. Check out these articles for clarity on some of the most misunderstood areas of the Bible: Are Ghosts, Angels, and Demons Real? Divorce: What Does the Bible Actually Say? What is Free Will, and Why Do We Have It? What About Those Who Haven’t Heard About Jesus?Jesus and Women in the Bible
Visualization makes a world of difference when I want to remember something. When a verse stands out to me, I like to write it down with a bright colored pen to help it imprint in my mind. I can then go back and contemplate what I learned when I approach the topic in the future. I'm also an avid notebook collector, so there's no risk I'll run out of paper. If you're more into saving your notes on "the cloud," try a Rocketbook or Moleskine notebook. For the crafty people out there, a worship binder is a fun project that can help you remember impactful spiritual lessons.
What is your morning routine? Do you wake up, grab your phone, and doom-scroll until you absolutely must get up? I'll admit I do this more than not. However, on the days when I embrace my full potential, I pick up my Bible (or open up a Bible reading plan) and keep distractions at bay. Then I start the day with peace and motivation, even before I have coffee! I am able to push past preconceptions about Scripture when I give it my full attention. Instead of assuming I know what the Bible says about something, I can study with a desire to learn, even if it's a passage I know by heart.
Without connection to my Father, my understanding of the Bible will only cause superficial change. God knows what I need, and He leads me to seek wisdom. The more time I spend in Scripture and reaching out to God, the more it feels intimate rather than intimidating. Talking to God leads me in His Word, and His Word shows me the power of prayer. As I open my heart, the calling to learn about my Creator turns confusion into curiosity.No matter where you are in your walk with Jesus, or even if you're just curious about the Bible, you can apply Scripture to your life. God's Word is inspired and led by His desires for us. Every story, poem, revelation, or long list of ancestors is something God wants us to know.If you don't already have a favorite Bible translation or want to try a new one, here's a rundown to get you started. Check out Bibles at Christianbook.com or use the YouVersion app!
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.