Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Psalm 37:4-7
Nehemiah 8; Psalm 37, 119; Romans 12, 1 Peter 2:2
What can we do to read the Bible and actually enjoy it?
This can be very hard for many of us. Yet, the Bible is the most widely printed and read book in the world. Did you know that the Bible is quoted more often than any other piece of literature in history and has had more influence on our language, culture and laws than any other book or idea ever published? Yet, most people seldom, if at all will ever, actually read the Bible, including Christians! Why?
Many feel overwhelmed or too busy or just can get in sync with Scripture. And, of course, there are many more reasons, too, including the fear of being convicted. Nonetheless, consider this, if you were dating, would you choose to never talk to one another? Never learn or grow together? Would you just hang out and assume what the other is like? How would that work out? The Bible, for the Christian, is about getting to know Jesus, our Lord, Creator and Savior so that we are transformed. The Bible is His story, His words, His instructions and His love story for you. His Word is where we can be still before the Lord, so we can focus on Him and listen to Him and contemplate His precepts. He fills us so we shine and take refuge and are delivered. Thus, to take delight in the Lord, we need to be steadfast in our spiritual growth, our outlook and use in life; we need God's direction put in our lives on a daily basis (Palm 37).
Many people also assume that the Bible is too difficult to understand. Others are frightened by its size, or they don't think it's relevant in the 21st Century. Therefore, we do not grow or become fruitful. I found myself in this. The first time I attempted to read the Bible, I was in 5th grade or so. My grandmother gave me a King James, leather-bound Bible with my name on it. But, the pages had very small, difficult-to-read font and the paper was so thin you could see the type on the other side. I could not understand the language or make sense of it. Several years later, after receiving the Lord with a firm commitment at a camp, I was given a brand new Good News Bible; it was easy to read, had maps and pictures and helped me on my new journey.
I Had to get beyond my fears, objections and barriers; you do, too. God implants His Word in us, and His Presence; however, His Written Word, we must seek intentionally, passionately and deliberately with a daily commitment and trust to move our relationship with Christ, our relationship with others, our whole being deeper and closer for His Glory (James 1:19-25)!
How to get synced with your Bible Reading
First. Remember you are getting to know Christ the Lord. This is not about just learning facts and characters; it is about your relationship with Him. This is where the enjoyment comes in. If you are prepping for a Bible Study, read it like a text book, take notes, identify key points, and write down questions. For your personal devotions, just read to refresh your heart and synch it to Him. Read the Bible like a novel and place yourself into the story. Like Jesus is right beside you, talking to you, for He is. If you love Jesus, if you are saved, then you should want to know and grow more. The more you are growing, the more you will want and thirst for God's Word and look forward to time in the Bible. If not, then something is off. Look at it like dating, getting to know the Person who first loved you.
Second. Pick a time of day and stick to it. Many find that waking up 15, 20, 30 minutes earlier, reading a few chapters, and being in prayer works wonders. This grows our relationship with the Lord and sets us up for the day, charged and ready. As you grow, you can expand that time, too. Not being a morning person, I like to do my reading in the evening; that works for me. Just pick and stick, be committed and do not give up. You can, indeed, do it. And if you do miss a day, no worries, just pick it up the next.
Third. Choose an easy-to-read translation and guide. For devotions, go easy; for Bible Study, go deep. I started off with a paraphrase; that is OK. Remember, the Bible was written in Greek and Hebrew over 2000 years ago. So, we have to translate it. A paraphrase seeks to communicate "thought-for-thought" and uses additional words to fill in the gap with plain language while translations seek to be a "word-for-word." There are many good ones. Go to www.BibleGateway.com and try some out, like the NLT, (New living Translation) or The Message. Then, for deeper Bible study, use a good translation like the NASB or my favorite, the ESV. And, a Bible reading plan will also help keep you on track. I like the ones that divide up passages from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. See the link at the end.
Fourth. Some people just hate reading; they are visual or audio learners. That is OK. Listen to the Bible online or download it to your phone. I did that for many years on tape. That really helped me learn God's Word when I was traveling, driving or when my dyslexia got in the way of reading.
Fifth. The Bible is not just one Book. It is God's Word in 66 different books, written at different times, in a different culture, in different languages and in various genres of literature. Remember what you learned in High School English class about interpreting different 'types' of literature, like poetry, allegory, romance, wisdom, biography, and narrative? The Bible has it all and more. When we know that, we can get it better; we don't have to get hung up. More here on Genres in the Bible.
Sixth. Prayer and Submission. As you read, be in prayer, too. Open up in prayer, pray as you read, and end in prayer while you are seeking His presence. Be vulnerable, honest and have a repentant heart. Ask Jesus, what are you telling me? What do I need to learn? What do you want me to do and where do you want me to go with this information? The primary goal of being in the Word is to know and grow in Christ for transformation and spiritual growth. Then, cultivate your faith and fruit, so you can improve your other relationships and church. All this comes from our submission to His Lordship and then our application from knowing and doing God's Word.
God is a God who gives us grace, comfort, and rest. Yet, all too often we forget His holiness, righteousness, and right to judge. We forget that we are responsible for our spiritual growth, relationships, and actions. Many of us will go on with our daily lives without any forethought of how God is at work in us and others or our consequences or opportunities. Yes, our God is a God of Grace. He wants you and to hear from you! How wonderful and comforting to be able to allow Him to be our haven of rest, our comfort. Yet, we cannot allow ourselves to neglect His full magnitude and character, by neglecting our time with Him. We need to be willing and able to grow and rest in Christ The Lord, His plan, and in His ways, not ours. Even in times when we hurt, are stressed or confused, even when we fail, He is there, holding us, loving us, and giving to us His rest and grace beyond what we can fathom. When we surrender our will and plans over to His perfect rest, how splendid a Christian walk we will have; what an impact we can be (Matt. 11: 20-3).
Which Bible Book should I read first?
The size of the Bible can be a little intimidating. Some of our Bible reading charts are designed to move Books around so you are not bogged down. Some break up the OT and NT for an easy flow; however, this is not the only way. It isn't really necessary to start at the very beginning in order to get the greatest benefit. You may try the TOP 5, start off with either Mark or John. Mark is a short, fast-moving account of the life of Jesus, written by a young man who was an eyewitness of many of the things that Jesus did. John was written by one of Jesus' closest followers, giving an intimate look at His life.
After Mark or John, find Ephesians. It's short, only a few pages long. It gives you a glimpse of God's family, the Church, and some guidelines for living. Third, go to James, also short, but extremely practical.
Then, read Romans. This is a letter written by the early Christian leader, Paul, who had more influence than all of the other apostles put together. It's the most powerful line of reasoning and evidence for belief in Jesus Christ in the Bible. It also lays the framework of essential doctrine and Christian thinking.
Next, go to the Old Testament. Genesis is the book of beginnings, and it has many exciting stories about God's people and how He takes care of them.
There you have the "TOP 5": Mark or John, Ephesians, James, Romans, and Genesis. (At Into Thy Word, we recommend people start with our Bible reading chart or the Top 5. Most people will start off in Genesis and get bogged down in the Law and give up. Thus, the reason for a well-balanced mix.)
From there, you could go to Acts, which traces the growth of Christianity and the exciting stories of the early believers and how they spread the story and teachings of Jesus throughout their world. Then, maybe some of the Psalms, which reflect every emotion we children of God feel, from depression and loneliness to the joy of knowing God personally. Psalms teach what it means to worship and love God and to pour out your deepest feelings to Him. Follow this with New Testament books, like Philippians, or I John. Then, move to books named after the main characters in their stories--Joshua, Ruth, Nehemiah, Job, Jonah, and others. Read complete books; do not skip around! Save the longer prophetic books and the books relating to the Law and so forth until the last. You may want to establish a daily reading pattern that includes several Psalms along with other sections. And, of course, we did the work for you with our Bible reading chart!
So, to help you on your journey to know our Lord through His Word, we designed many Bible reading plans to allow you to go through the Bible at your pace. You can also use the "One Year Bible" by Tyndale. There are many apps like Bible Gateway and Olive Tree have this feature, too. Remember, use an easy-to-read translation to start off with, especially if you have not read the Bible much, or if you are a new Christian, or feel it is too ominous for you. Two of the best translations that are easy to read are the NLT and Message.
We also have a Bible Study series that takes you through the entire Bible, and overview of each Book, its main themes and verses, and major characters. As you read, you can learn a more.
Remember, you can do it! For God to give you the desires of your heart, you have to pick the Bible up, open it up, read, and receive. You can earnestly seek Christ as Lord and succeed in His ways! You can get yourself in sync with the Creator and Sustainer of the universe who intimately loves and saves you!
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him….
© 1984, 2001, 2016 R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., www.intothyword.org