how to actually read your Bible: from one not-yet Biblically literate Christian to another

 

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I haven’t read the entire Bible. Yikes, I know! I’m a Christian, follower of Jesus Christ. I have been a believer since I was 14, when it struck me deep in my core that there was a story of a God set out to suffer and die for sinful people like me. The story was so good, I decided it must be true, and I’ve lived in light of that Gospel since. I knew then that the Bible is the Word of God and the foundation of my faith, but I found it hard to interpret and understand, so I kind of just relied on pastors, sermons, and podcasts to tell me about what it was saying.

I never really got past that stage, and I still haven’t read all of Scripture yet. Isn’t that crazy? I’ve tried, year after year, to do the “Bible in a year” plans, and I constantly fail. I think, all in all, I’ve read about 65% of Scripture fully enough to basically grasp what was going on in general.

I think it’s important to note that what I don’t know doesn’t discredit what I do know, though.  Bible reading is not a prerequisite to salvation. I know that Jesus is the embodiment of love, and that’s the foundation for the rest of the story of redemption. 

But it still leaves a lot of material out, more material to learn about His beautiful love and heart for sinners!

The fact is, I would bet that many of you reading this have a similar story. You are a Christian, a true disciple of Christ; however, when it comes to Scripture, you feel majorly overwhelmed and lost. Even if you have read the entire Bible, you felt really lost and confused more than you want to admit.

Nearly a decade after my conversion, I’m just learning more and more about how majorly important this beautiful, sacred book is to knowing God in the most intimate of ways. I’ve had this insatiable hunger for it lately, and I’m just learning how to truly study it, how to interpret it, and how to apply it. I’ve found that actually understanding Scripture makes reading Scripture so much more enjoyable! So I want to share the eight best resources I’ve come across that have helped me so far, so that we can hopefully grow in Biblical literacy together! 

  1. A Study Bible. I have an NLT, Tutoned Parallel Study Bible, and it’s incredible. The NLT version is not the most literal (gasp, I know); however, it’s my favorite version for daily reading because the language is more similar to how we would understand this now, without being super poetic and wordy, like the Message version. Right now, I use the Bible app to compare versions, and maybe when I understand Scripture more, I’ll get more literal with a main hard-back version like the NASB. But for now, this is what works for me, and I love it! (PRICING TIP: It’s pretty cheaply priced at the moment, but study bibles can get expensive! I got mine for $22 through the “Buy Used” section on Amazon. Don’t be afraid of that section! I’ve had nothing but awesome experiences with it, and you can get books for half the price!)
  2. Jen Wilkin’s book, “Women of the Word.” I wish I read this book ten years ago. This book changes everything, and IT’S NOT JUST FOR WOMEN. Men, talk with my husband about it! I think Jen even said she wishes she had named it a more co-ed title, but you’ll just have to take my word for it. I wish it just said “people of the Word.” People had told me to read it like 104830853 times, and I never got around to it. It’s amazing. Start your journey with this book. I could say more, but just read the book and you will understand. Link here. (PRICING TIP: Again, the used book section!)
  3. Daily Grace Co. This company is amazing. Everything they make is great, but the Bible studies are their crowning glory. They are just enough information to help you go deep with the passage, without overwhelming you with information. Plus– they are beautiful! And again, men: they have studies for you, too! Link here. (PRICING TIP: I have never paid anything full price for them. Sign up for their email, and they have crazy sales literally all the time. I get Bible studies for $5 all the time!)
  4. Dane Ortland’s Book, “Gentle and Lowly.” This book doesn’t have anything to do with Biblical comprehension, but it shows God’s HEART. This is the most important thing to comprehend when we come to Scripture: What does this say about God’s HEART in this passage? This book sets the tone to understand the Hebrew God, the God that loves to show mercy and grace, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit better than any other I’ve read. Link here. (PRICING TIP: Used section!)
  5. A Bible Reading Plan. I’ve read the entire New Testament, but I haven’t read the entire Old Testament, for the same reason that most people haven’t. My “plan” for now is to read the whole OT, just in the order that it is in the Bible. I am in Judges. I don’t have a time frame, because I know if I get stressed or too behind I’ll quit. I’m learning it’s DEFINITELY an endurance race and not a sprint, so I’m content with not knowing. I imagine (and hoping!) I’ll be finished with it about this time next year, though. It’s important to consider your personality and schedule, and to set realistic goals! 
  6. The Enduring Word Online Commentary. Just Google a book and chapter of Scripture, and it will likely be the first or second thing to show up. It’s the easiest and most available commentary I have for now, as a person who isn’t well-versed in commentaries. And it’s been super useful and it’s free! Link here.
  7. Friends to discuss resources and revelations with. When I am wrestling with something, have my husband and a few friends that I can discuss Scripture with. Do you have someone you can just call up and ask questions together? Maybe you set up a coffee date with a friend. Not even as accountability necessarily (though that will probably naturally happen.) But just as a Scripture buddy!
  8. Prayer. If you truly long to know God more, or if you even long for the desire to know Him more, He wants to reveal Himself to you. Just pray and ask for wisdom, ask for guidance, ask God to meet you in your efforts to read and study His Word. He honors our willing spirits! I even believe He honors spirits that don’t even know what it means to be “willing” but are willing to be willing! 😉 

I hope you find these resources helpful! I know I have! Email, text, or message me with any questions or even with advice! We can learn to know and love God’s Word better together. 🙂

In Him,

Mary Mad

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