Is one of your 2016 goals to read your bible more? You know its important but can't seem to find the time or develop the habit of daily reading. You're not alone. I talk to people all the time who desire to spend time reading God's word but for one reason or another can't make it happen.
Not a Christian, I still commend reading the Bible to you. No other book has had such an impact upon the world. Its impact can not be overstated nor can the help it offers to every area of your life. Whether its your business, marriage, relationships or any other area of your life, the Bible offers you timeless help.
But exactly how do you start? The Bible is after all quite large. Knowing where to begin and how to proceed can be confusing.
In this post, I would like to share with you how I read the Bible. The tips I share aren't the only way to do it, but have served me well for sometime and therefore I commend them to you.
Set a time and a place
Over the years I have learned the hard lesson that what gets scheduled gets done and what doesn't get scheduled consequently doesn't get done. Create an appointment with yourself on your calendar for Bible reading and just like any other appointment establish a meeting place. These two steps are the foundation for developing a habit of Bible reading and will go a long way to helping it stick.
Personally, I like to read the Bible first thing in the morning before my day has the opportunity to distract me. And just about every morning I read in the same place, my office. I am easily distracted so this is a nice quiet place I can shut the door and spend time in God's word before starting my day.
Create a plan
Ok, so you've set a time and a place to read, but what will you actually read. Are you banking on the old flip and point method? I've used that one myself in the past, but have since come to find that like most areas of life a little planning ahead goes a long long way.
Do you want to read a particular book of the Bible, a specific topic or do you want to read through the entire Bible in a year? Once you know what you want select a plan to guide you. It is great to create time and space in your schedule but you must have a plan for what you will do with this time.
For daily Bible reading, I have found Join The Journey to be a great and helpful tool. If you're looking for a place to start, I'd reccomend giving it a look. There are also several other plans availible online for you to download and follow. Tim Challies has a list of several reading plans; Justin Taylor also has yet more options for you.
Read with pen in hand
Just as I have reccomended reading other books with a pen in hand, it goes double for the Bible. The whole point of reading the Bible is to interact with what it says and have it inform your thoughts and ways. I can think of no better way to do this than to physically or electronicly mark up the text. Underline verses that stick out, circle paragraphs that you find especially impactful, and write notes in the margins.
I do the majority of my Bible reading using the Olive Tree Bible Study App. I love this app for several reasons among which is the ability to highlight verses in different colors. This past year a good friend of mine encouraged me to use more than one color and I soon adopted the highlighting guide, below:
Purple = Promises
Green = Commands
Yellow = Noteworthy
Pink = Things to avoid or guard against
Blue = Things of heaven or to imitate
You might benefit from using different colors or writing in the margins but whatever method you choose you will benefit greatly from interacting with the word of God and seeking to understand it more deeply. Track God's ideas after Him and see how it changes you in 2016.
Capture what you're learning
It does you little good to read, and learn if you don't have some sort of a system to help you capture what you're learning. I don't know about you but I can't remember everything and need a little help from time to time. This is where a great note keeping app like Evernote or One Note can come in handy. Write down what you're learning. This archive of learning helps you retain far more of what you read.
This is perhaps my favorite feature of the Olive Tree Bible Study App. It allows me to create and pin notes to particular verses. This is super helpful! If I'm reading and something stands out I can not only highlight it but pin a note to the verse about what I read, how it impacted me and have that note with me wherever I go. Whether you use an app like Evernote, OneNote or Olive Tree or simply a spiral notebook, figure out a way to capture what you are learning and reference it often.
Involve other people
Just like a work out partner can come in handy at the gym, a group of people can come in handy with reading your Bible. They can encourage and hold you accountable and help you process what you are reading. When you know other people care and are going to check in with you, you tend to follow through more often.
What does this look like for me? Well first and foremost, my wife is a huge encourager and helps me stay on track with reading God's word. We also have great conversations about what we each are studying throughout the week. I also talk reguarly with family and friends about what we are reading and how it is shaping us.
You don't have to be married to involve others in your study of God's word. All you need is a few trusted people in your life that you can talk to and process with. Tell your friends what you are learning, discuss it with them and ask them to hold you accountable throughout the year.
It is my hope that these quick tips are helpful as you seek to read your Bible this year and that doing so absolutely transforms your life.