Are you someone who struggles in reading the Bible? If so, you certainly aren’t alone! Many people who want to grow in their faith have difficulty getting into the Word for various reasons. Some feel as though they cannot understand the Bible. Others think that they are not “intelligent” enough to read it and that it is best left for pastors and other trained scholars. Still others simply don’t enjoy reading or find a passage confusing and then give up. One of the things I struggle with in reading the Bible is finding time to get into the Word as a busy mom!
Can I encourage you, if you are one of these people, not to let these reasons keep you from precious time spent in the Word of God? We know that Satan desires to keep us from growing in our knowledge and understanding of the Bible. He is the father of lies (John 8:44) and one of the ways he plants these lies in our minds is through the discouraging thoughts described above. How can we dispel these lies and grow in the truth?
Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Where can we find the knowledge and understanding that come from his mouth? In the Word!
2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” God exhaled out of his mouth His perfect words, giving them to men inspired by the Holy Spirit. These were written down and became the Scriptures in which we can find inspiration, instruction and comfort.
Here are some simple and practical ways that you can begin your study of the Bible:
1. Choose familiar verses for a short daily devotion. Everyone who has been a Christian, even for a short time, can bring to mind some Bible verses they have heard in church or a Bible study. Open your Bible to those verses and read them each morning or any free moment of your day. Then spend a few minutes in prayer for those you love and for yourself, asking that God would fill you with the desire to read His Word and that He would give you wisdom and understanding.
2. Start with a “basic” book of the Bible. The book of John is an excellent place to start. This book outlines the truth and meaning of Jesus’ life and purpose on earth. The Psalms are also easy to understand and speak straight to the heart about the character of God. Proverbs is my personal favorite, giving practical advice and wisdom for daily living. Romans is full of deep theological truths and can be easily understood with a good commentary (see #5). It may help in the beginning to pick a version of the Bible like The Message, but moving to a version that is more closely worded like the original Greek and Hebrew languages (for example, the NASB or ESV) should be your goal.
3. Read a Bible with a good concordance, footnotes and cross-references. A concordance is simply an index of names, words, and phrases, showing their book, chapter, and verse. Footnotes in a Bible are especially helpful in explaining hard-to-understand verses. Good cross-references provide the context of a verse and other related verses. Two good choices are the Ryrie Study Bible and the NASB Study Bible, which I use for my devotions and Bible studies.
4. Choose a Biblical devotional to help you apply practical meaning to the Bible. It’s important when we read Scripture to apply it to our every-day lives (read my series on The Usefulness of the Bible). A good devotional can shed light on a passage that we may not have understood before. Ask your pastor or a trusted Christian friend or family member for a good devotional. I have enjoyed reading Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings a number of times because the devotions are short and meaningful.
5. Choose a good commentary. Commentaries have been especially helpful in gaining a deeper understanding of the Word as a whole. The People’s Bible Commentary series gives verse by verse explanations that apply cultural, practical and personal meaning to the books of the Bible and is an excellent resource.
Don’t be discouraged! God will give you the wisdom and desire to read the Word when you ask Him! “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5