I remember when I first decided I was going to read the bible. I was no longer satisfied with hearing about God through others. I wanted to figure this stuff out for myself. I was ready to feast. But I had no idea where to start. The bible is BIG. It looked complicated. It seemed daunting. That is probably why I never picked it up before. What could I get out of an old book with peoples names I couldn’t pronounce and all of the "Thys" and “shall" and wars and stuff. I wasn’t even sure it was going to help me find God. Deep down, I was intimidated by it. Can you relate?
But I was desperate. I decided my desire to know the Lord was bigger than all of that. So I started with Google. Yep. I googled “best books of the bible to start reading.” I found a list that seemed legit and started in. I have learned a lot since then and a few things have helped me navigate this immensely massive book. I hope they help you too:
Utilize different Versions
My bible is the ESV version and I love it. But sometimes I read a passage and don’t quite understand what it means. So I will look up the passage on Biblehub or Youversion and read it in the Message version, New living translation or New International Version. These translations simplify the text. When you see the the different versions, you can compare and contrast and see what theme is really shining through. Sometimes all you need is to read it in a slightly different way for it to click. If you don’t have a bible yet, I recommend starting with a version that is intentionally written for comprehension. This means it may not be as “Accurate”, meaning not as literal but the message will translate better.
This has been the one thing that really transformed my understanding of scripture. There are commentary books available I am sure, but I usually type something this into google “Matthew 6:33 commentary” and a slew of sites pop up. Commentaries are written by people who have studied scripture extensively. They provide insight into what the original authors of the passage were intending to say based on language, time period and overall context. Matthew Henry is probably my favorite commentary to read but there are countless others. Take your time and peruse their thoughts. I have found much understanding from commentaries!
Pricilla Shirer talks about the 5 P’s of Bible study. Watch this five minute video! But one thing she encourages people to do is to write out the scripture in their own words. I love doing this!!! I will take one verse and summarize it. I will write down what I think God wants me to get out of it and how/where I can apply it to my life. It helps me not to just read scripture but LIVE scripture. Because that is the whole purpose of studying the word- To help us line our lives up with His word. And, once it is written down, I am more likely to remember it and can always come back to it should I need it.
Most importantly though, Pray. Pray before you read your bible and during. Ask the Holy spirit to lead you to what you should read for that day and to make it make sense. There is no reason to stress or strive when reading the word of God. It is a love letter. One giant, romantic, deeply interesting love letter written just for you. Don’t be intimated by it. Don’t get discouraged and most importantly, don’t rush it. Take your time. Stay with one chapter, one verse, one word as long as you need to. This book is not something to be conquered or mastered. It is meant to be devoured, adored, and applied. Feast on it. Let it pierce your heart, transform you and BLESS you. His word is full of loving correction and faithful promises. Explore it with an open heart and a willing spirit and you will find that this book that once intimated you is, is actually one you won’t want to put down.
I hope this helps beloved! Comment or email me with your suggestions, tips or questions. We are all in this together! I also created some freebies for you to help you navigate your bible study! Check shop tab for details!