It is a good thing to want to read through the Bible. But how should you go about it? Many get through Genesis and Exodus only to fall apart in Leviticus…Is there a better way to make scripture a part of who we are? Reading scripture and letting it read us in return is a huge part of who we are as a faith community. If you’ve struggled with reading scripture, perhaps these bits of advice would help.
1. Remember that you are reading one end of a conversation. It takes historians, linguists, and theologians to point out what was going on at both ends of the conversations…and sometimes even they can’t be certain.
2. Not everything you are reading is to be applied to your life – remember Paul’s admonition to Timothy to “handle correctly” the Word. Don’t leap to conclusions. He didn’t say “read it, believe it, that settles it” as if everything were simple. You don’t have to build an Ark, or protect the Ark of the Covenant, or wash the feet of others or greet people this Sunday with a big kiss – context matters.
3. Reading through the Bible from cover to cover is great but our Bibles were compiled with the books wildly out of order. Consider getting a chronological Bible or print off a few chronological reading schedules off the internet. (Some dates are uncertain so the lists will vary. Pick one and go with it.)
4. If your time is limited, read the Gospels over and over. Once they are a solid part of your heart, consciousness and inner life (it took me six months and many readings), branch out and read Hebrews where Christ is exalted and the reason for our community gatherings is given: to exalt the Lord and help each other. Then, read the Gospels through once again and move on to Acts and Romans. Now you are ready for the rest of the New Testament. When it refers to something in the Old Testament, go look up that person, that story.
5. Once you have absorbed the Gospels, Acts, and Romans, read the first five books of the Bible. It may seem like heavy lifting but it is important. We are with Jesus now but the Old Testament was our teacher who brought us to him. It was the only Bible he had and he quoted it extensively. If it was important to him, it should be important to us.
6. Spend at least six months in the songbook and rulebook Jesus had – the Psalms and Proverbs. It’s okay to have favorites in each. NOTE: when you read Proverbs, they are not in any kind of order, so don’t try to read a chapter a day. Read one thought. Absorb it. Murmur it to yourself repeatedly (which is what “meditation” means in scripture).
7. Then…read anything and everything. By this time, you will have been reading about a year and a half and you will be on fire to read scripture. You can invest that amount of time to change your life, especially once you realize that it will also change your family’s life and the life of your community as you become, truly, a living temple of the Spirit of God.
If you don’t like reading, download versions of the Bible or buy versions on CD. Do the “reading” schedule above by listening to them. Dramatized Bibles are a lot of fun and it is very helpful to read/listen several versions. I highly recommend this mix as a basic mix: NIV, The Message, and the CEV but others like other versions. If you are unsure which to get, pick a favorite passage and look at every version of that passage you can online and in shops. Pick your three versions accordingly.
Once you get it in you, it changes you. Promise.
From: Patrick Mead via Facebook, 5-19-16