I just love this picture! It describes my husband and I to a tee! We may not have them stacked that high next to our bed, but believe me, they're stacked that way elsewhere in the house! And that is in addition to the small stacks by our bed! I love it! I got it honest too. Anyone who knows my immediate family knows I got it honest from my dad. He has stacks all over his house too!
As I laugh about this picture, it made me think about how much we do, or don't read. We've all been told that we need to spend more time reading our Bible. If we are honest, we probably all feel like we aren't meeting that goal. But when we do take time to spend with God, what are we reading?
Often, we turn to commentaries, Bible studies, and other materials to help us understand the Bible. I know, because I use to do the very same thing. I can't just sit and read. Where do I start? What do I read? What if I don't understand it?
Sitting down and just reading the Bible can be completely overwhelming. However, it can also be overwhelmingly enlightening! Believe it or not, you don't have to be a Bible genius, historical brainiac, or a language expert to understand it. God wants everyone to know him through his word. That means his word has to be accessible to most people. And most people are not geniuses, brainiacs, or experts!
Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the
delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts
There is nothing wrong with Bible studies, commentaries, or other Bible helps. They are great resources! However, our sole source of information should be the primary source; the Bible itself. Why is a primary source so important? Look at it through the eyes of a police investigation. There's been a murder. Do you want the witness's account? Or do you want the person down the road explaining to you what the witness saw? You want the primary source. It's the same with the Bible.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
All those commentaries and Bible studies and other resources are great to keep around for when you don't understand or you want more understanding. However, use the Bible first. When you get to a part where you are confused, turn to those other materials. They are great resources! Just use them in context with the Bible instead of the other way around.
Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God
as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:20-21
First step, find a Bible that you understand. Don't understand King James? It's ok. Grab and ESV or NIV Bible. Try to keep to a Bible that is more word-for-word than conceptual.
Second, read it! Not sure where to start? You can start anywhere! That's the beauty of it! I know, some of you are probably a lot like me. You need some sort of boundaries or rules. If that's the case, get a reading plan from the internet or a Bible app. Or you can create your own method: pick a book of the Bible, or a story you loved as a kid.
Don't know how much to read at a time? No worries! An easy way to get started is to just do one chapter a day. (FYI - if using this method, do not start with the book of Psalms! Some of those chapters are VERY long!)
Third, pray. Before and after you read, invite the Holy Spirit to guide you. Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to guide us and to teach us. It is his pleasure to bring understanding and enlightenment to Jesus' followers. That is what his mission is!
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you."
As you go throughout your day, take time to think back on what you read. Ponder on it. This is what the Bible calls "meditating." Yes, it is that simple. Thinking and pondering on the Bible is what meditating on the Word is all about it. You will find that during these ponderings, God will reveal things to you.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
It may take a while before you get into the rhythm of this, but once you do, it will broaden your spiritual journey. You're understanding will grow more and more. You will also find that you remember more when you spend time in the Bible itself. After all, the Holy Spirit is there to remind us of what the Bible says. We can't be reminded if we haven't been reading.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things
and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Reading the Bible is truly the way to bring yourself into communion with God. His words for us are there, his love for us is written for us to see, and his statutes for righteous living are available. God wants to commune with us. He wants us to abide in him. We do that by praying and by reading his word. The Bible is his love letter to the human race.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love,
just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love."