Reading the Bible

Reading the Bible is something that few people do. Many talk about things that they think are in the Bible but are actually not there. In order to really know what is in this book you’ll need a plan that will help you read the entire Bible. It’s a big book, it’ll take some time to work through.

My experience

I have read through the Bible numerous times. My first experience reading through the Bible was in 1989. I was a first year teacher and living far away from family and friends. I found a church that I liked that had good Sunday morning teaching. While I was there, I realized that there were things about Christianity that I assumed were correct, but I hadn’t really read the Bible to know whether these things had any biblical support.

I went to a bookstore and purchased a One Year Bible. I needed to break down the Bible into bite sized pieces. Most people start at the beginning and attempt to read straight through, but that is a bad idea. You’ll probably fail once you reach the section that starts listing people’s names (genealogies). The One Year Bible gives readings from different sections each day. (One reading from the oldest section of the Bible called the Old Testament. Another reading from a newer section called the New Testament and a reading from the Psalms and Proverbs which deal with wisdom and praise of God.)

I began reading daily. There were days that I didn’t read and sometimes I would catch up by reading two days on another day. A year passed and I finished the entire book. I did NOT feel like I understood everything I read, but I felt a sense of accomplishment that I made my way through the whole book.

Now what? Year two!

The Bible has numerous translations. The original book was written in a few different languages with the oldest sections written in Hebrew and the new sections written in Greek. Translating this enormous document is difficult and numerous individuals and organizations have taken on the task. The original english translation was called the King James Version and it reads like a Shakespearean play. This is obviously hard for people to understand so a New King James Version Bible was developed. That is the version that I read through in my first year. I checked the bookstore and noticed that they also had a One Year Bible in a version called the New International Version and bought that Bible for year #2.

Reading through the Bible in year #2 wasn’t any easier. I would miss days and try to catch up. But, sometimes I missed numerous days and had to give myself permission to not catch up. I would skip missed days and start with the current day’s reading. The point was to keep moving forward. I bought a different One Year Bible each year.

Entering the modern era

In 2013 I began using the YouVersion Bible app. This gave me the Bible on my phone. I could carry the Bible everywhere without people thinking I was weird. (Are Christians weird? Well, maybe we are, but anyway…). Embedded in this app are Bible reading plans, including a plan for reading through the entire Bible in a year. This is a game changer. I can now do everything I was doing before, like hi-lighting but now I can also share verses with others via email, text or social media.

The app allows you to read with other people and these last few years I have been reading with friends. We can comment on the day’s reading, it keeps us accountable to each other. The app can also read Bible read to you. Now I listen to the day’s reading while I’m getting ready in the morning. I’m a big fan of this app. I’ve gone through the Bible 10 times using the YouVersion app.

Why bother?

So, why read the Bible? After several years of reading, I began to notice that I would have certain verses or sections pop into my mind during the day. These ‘out of the blue’ recollections would frequently be encouraging and sometimes would nudge me away from bad behavior. The recollections weren’t what you might think. They weren’t fire and brimstone, God’s coming to get you kind of thoughts. I have a post where I go into some detail about a struggle with anxiety that gives an idea of how the words from the Bible gave me enormous comfort. Basically, the recollections of the readings were making me into a better person and giving me peace.

Reading the Bible gives me a solid functioning understanding of what is in the book. It becomes much easier to detect when someone is incorrectly quoting the Bible by saying things like, “God helps those who help themselves”.

Lastly, the Bible is a source of communication from God to his followers. It is difficult to follow someone that you’re not listening to.

Getting started

If you are feeling guilty, don’t! You do not need to feel guilty. Instead of guilt, make a plan to get started.

The first thing I would recommend is that download the YouVersion Bible app. It is free, has no ads and no in app purchases. Next pick a reading plan. You can choose a plan that takes a year to complete, but there is also an excellent plan that will take you through the Bible in 3 years.

You’ll need to decide on a time to read. But, remember that you can chose to listen. I felt guilty about listening instead of reading until I realized that most of the readings in the Bible were originally read out loud to people. There is no shame in listening to the Bible. The point is that you listening. You can adjust the speed of the reading. I prefer 1.25 speed. The 1.0 speed seems like listening in slow motion.

This will be easier if you read with a friend. I’ve already mentioned that the app provides a way to make that easy. You can read with anyone anywhere in the world.

Whether you read via an app or from a paper book, you can start today. This is a habit that will change your life for the better. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

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