Wednesday, October 26, 2005

How to Approach Reading the Bible (Part 5)

Here are my last two thoughts on how to approach the Bible...

9. Read the Bible to be more, live more and do more, not just know more.
The Bible is such a fascinating book that it’s easy to read it and never apply it. I was talking to someone yesterday about end time prophecy. They wondered if I ever taught on it and I said “No, I don’t. I purposefully avoid it because it’s too easy for people to get caught up in the end times discussion and forget about how God wants them to live their life today.”

Some times we forget that the goal of our Bible reading should be to know God, to know our own heart, to live life more fully and to learn how to love others. It shouldn't be a contest to see who can quote the most Bible verses or who can read the most pages.

10. Approach the Bible often.
Don’t let it collect dust. Two years ago I spoke on the importance of reading the Bible at church and one of my members decided that he knew a lot about a many things but he had never read the Bible through from cover to cover. So he decided he was going to do just that. Now, two years later, he is just finishing the last few pages of Revelation, the last book in the Bible. He said that he was surprised how enjoyable his daily reading was. He could hardly wait to see what was going to happen next in each story. He kept notes of key themes and verses and he reduced it to three pages of notes to help him remember the most important things that God showed him in his reading. I recommend the same to you. You don't have to believe that the Bible is divine to get anything out of it. Just read it. You might be surprised to hear God speaking to you through it.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

How to Approach Reading the Bible (Part 4)

7. Know the Big Story before you interpret the small ones.
If you don’t know the big picture in the Bible, you will tend to interpret verses according to your own biases. For example, the overall story has to do with God including people. So if you find yourself always reading the Bible in a way that judges and excludes people, then you are probably missing the point.

Read the Bible with others, not just by yourself.
The Bible wasn’t written for individuals. It was written for the community of faith. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have our own Bible or that we should never read it alone but we need to understand that God wants to speak to us as a community of believers, not a group of individuals. Most of the New Testament is letters written to churches not individuals. So I encourage you to read your Bible but get together with other believers to read it with them as well as.