We are Bible people. That means we want to live our lives under the authority of God’s Word. We want it to direct, correct, and comfort us. We live by the Bible. Our hope is that you are actively in the Bible yourself, that you are reading, following a plan, being shaped, convicted, and led by the Word of God. That's what is going to shape our church.
The point of this article is to provide you with filters to help you get more out of your Bible reading. Before discussing how to read your Bible, we need to start with why you read your Bible. If you don't have a strong conviction on why to read the Bible, then you won't have a foundation to build good Bible reading habits on.
Three Reasons: Why You Read The Bible
You read for life.
“You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” - 1 Peter 1:23
“Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth” - James 1:18
God's word gives life. It gives you a vibrancy - if you are in Christ, God’s Word brought you to spiritual life, and it also continues to give you life. So you need to read for life.
You read to fight.
“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” - Psalm 119:11
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” - Ephesians 6:10-12
In Ephesians 6, Paul tells us that our fight is not with flesh and blood. There is a spiritual reality, an enemy with schemes who is trying to tempt us and pull us away. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4, Mark 1, Luke 4), he fought with Scripture. He referred back to the Word of God. You need to understand that to stand against the schemes of the devil and the temptations of sin. You need the Word of God. You must use the Word of God to fight the spiritual battle you wage each and every day - it is your only offensive weapon. Wield it.
You read to be ready.
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” - 2 Timothy 4:1-2
Paul challenged Timothy to preach the Word and said to be ready in season and out of season. There are going to be times when your child, neighbor, or co-worker has a question, a problem, or needs your counsel. In those moments, you need to be ready not just to give them your advice but to give them God's Word. And you need to be in God's Word to be prepared to give God's Word to other people.
That's why you read your Bible. You must understand that you need to read for life. You need to read to fight. And You need to read to be ready. And that should motivate you to stay in your Bible every day.
With this clarity on why you read your bible, we can focus on three approaches to reading your bible. These are not three distinct and disconnected tactics. Rather, these three approaches work together and build on one another.
Three Approaches: How You Read The Bible
You need to read to feed.
You don't just read the Bible for the sake of reading your Bible. You need to read to feed. In John 21, when Jesus is restoring Peter, he tells them: feed my sheep, tend my sheep, feed my sheep. What is Jesus getting at here? What is it that Peter is supposed to feed Jesus’ sheep? In the context of the Gospel According to John, you understand it is Christ’s word - what he was taught. As one of Jesus’ sheep, you need to feed on the Word of God. When you read, you need to look for things that feed you.
When you think of being fed, you know it is about receiving nourishment, which provides you with energy. You feed on God’s Word by searching for things that motivate, comfort, convict, and inspire you. Every time you read, you need to take a word, a phrase, or a concept that has stirred up joy in your heart. Something that is good news, challenging, or convicting. Read to feed.
You need to read to pray.
Have you ever been in a conversation with somebody, and as soon as you were done talking, they immediately started talking about something completely different? Given their abrupt shift in the conversation, it would be clear they were not listening to what you were saying. Similarly, God's Word is him communicating with us. He started the conversation, and sometimes when you pray, you just jump into whatever you want to talk about.
When you read God's Word, God communicates to you. When you pray, you communicate back to God. You need to be in the conversation that He started. It is easy to disconnect prayer and Bible reading, but you need to see those two things working together. When you read your Bible, you need to ask questions like:
- How is this directing me to respond in prayer to God?
- Is this leading me to ask for help?
- What is God calling me to do?
- Is this leading me to confess and apologize for ways I've fallen short?
- Is this leading me to express gratitude for what He's provided?
Enter into the conversation God started with you in your Bible reading.
You need to read to act.
James tells us that you are not just to be hearers of the Word, but you are to be a doer of the Word (James 1:22). You don't want just to be a reader of the Bible. You want to be a doer of the Bible. When you read the Bible, you should ask yourself the following:
- So what?
- What does this mean for me as I leave this time?
Finish your Bible reading with some course of action connected to the previous questions you have already asked yourself:
- This is what I'm going to try to implement today.
- This is what I'm going to try to do.
Church, I love Bible reading plans. I would advocate that you would get a Bible reading plan. We offer a Bible reading plan. If you don't do that one, do a different one. There are a lot out there. We just want you in your Bibles, but we don't want you just reading to read. It doesn't matter if it's one verse or eight chapters. You need to read to feed, you need to read to pray, and you need to read to act. You need to be motivated to do that because you believe that you read to live, you read to fight, and you read to be ready to do the ministry God has for you.