I love how I discover new things about God each time I do my Bible reading. Do you?
This year, my small group made the commitment to read one chapter of the Bible per day. It will take us three and a half years to read the Bible to the end, but oh, we’re getting so much out of our Bible reading. We’ve finished Judges (the gory book of the Bible) and are now into Ruth. To help things move a long a little faster, we’re also reading one Psalm a day.
My Bible reading for one day this past week was the first chapter of Ruth and Psalm 23. Easy day, I thought. Familiar passages. Kick back, breeze through, and consider it a chance to give those spiritual muscles a break. I zipped through my two chapters and started to close my Bible with a snap.
Whoa, wait a minute.
Those chapters had become so familiar that I had long ago stopped thinking about what they meant. Yet Hebrews 4:12 says that God’s Word is living and active. That means that each time we open the Bible, we have the opportunity to discover deeper meaning in what we read.
So I contritely bowed my head and talked to my Heavenly Father. “I’ve read these two chapters hundreds of times. I’ve recited Psalm 23 more times than I know. Lord, show me today what I need to learn. Show me what these verses say about You and Your plan for the nations.”
My eyes stopped at Psalm 23:4. What’s the purpose of a rod and staff? I wondered. And how would those two implements give a sheep comfort? An experience from my past immediately entered my thoughts and my mind raced with the connection.
Did I mention that the connection happened during church? I leaned over to Preacher Creature who was about to stand up to deliver his morning message. “Can I write a devotion instead of listening to your sermon?”
He grinned. “Who am I to stand in the way of what God is telling you?”
Good answer. Good man.
There is always something new to find in the Bible.
Think about all those passages that didn’t make sense when you were younger. Now that you have a myriad of life experiences, you have slots in which to put those Bible truths. In the context of life lessons, those verses will make much more sense.
As you mature, you also learn to analyze, evaluate, and ask questions. You’ve learned over the years how much you don’t know – just like I had to realize that I really didn’t know the function of a shepherd’s rod and staff.
Do you want to get more out of your Bible reading?
Even passages that are overboard familiar? Here’s how you can glean more from your Bible reading:
Read small amounts.
If you are zipping through several chapters each day, never really engaging with what you are reading, you are reading too much at a time. God doesn’t award stickers or fuel perks for how many chapters you read per day. It’s all about quality, not quantity; internalizing the Word more than the external accomplishment. You know the right amount for you; the important thing is that you get something out of what you’ve read. If you still aren’t connecting, well, see the next suggestion.
Ask God to show you new applications, new connections, and old truths that you may be more ready to accept. Ask him to clear out the cobwebs and help you understand what you are reading. Pray that He lead you into truth so you don’t misinterpret Scripture. Finally, (gulp) ask His Holy Spirit to challenge you in the areas where you need to be obedient or more trusting in your faith-walk.
It’s ok. God won’t roll His divine eyeballs. Ask:
- What does this mean?
- What was this used for?
- What’s the cultural backdrop for this?
- What does this imagery tell me about God?
For more about asking questions while you read, see my post: Bible Questions: Is It OK to Ask Questions about the Bible?
Linger over what you read.
As I do my Bible reading, I’m amazed at the verses that pop off the page at me. This has happened to several in my small group. So many of us have commented, “I didn’t know that was there!”
Like this verse in my Bible reading of Ruth 2:
“May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.”Ruth 2:13, NIV
I’d never caught Ruth’s humility before. She understood her standing in Israelite society – that as a foreign woman, she was lower in the social caste system than even a servant girl. She didn’t resent it; it was just a fact, pure and simple reality. That understanding made her appreciate Boaz’s kindness to her all the more.
Life lesson? Perhaps I would appreciate the kindness expressed to me by God and others if I had more of a humble attitude, of taking an honest and realistic look at myself and admitting that there are times, many times, I really don’t deserve the kindness others show to me. Time to chew on that one for a while.
What’s your Bible reading plan for today?
Break it down into a manageable size. Then read slowly, savoring the words, keeping an open and prayerful mind, and seeking answers to the bigger question of who God is and how He expresses Himself in His word and the world.
Happy reading! Let me know in the comments below what you discover in your Bible reading today.