8 Ways to Know Your Bible

8 Ways to Know Your Bible

Ever feel intimated by those 62 books? Here are some ways to make it accessible.
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1. READ IT AS A TWO–WAY CONVERSATION. Imagine having a daily talk with God. You talk to him and he has something to say back to you. That's not a bad way to look at the Bible. Begin your reading time with prayer, asking God for understanding and guidance. Then be prepared to listen as he speaks through his Word.

2. READ IT IN DIFFERENT VERSIONS. Most people have a favorite version of the Bible. Nothing's wrong with that. But sometimes we get so familiar with certain words or phrases that they just don't mean much anymore. So grab a different translation and put a fresh twist on "that same old verse." Here are a few versions worth checking out at Biblegateway.com: The Message, New Living Translation and Contemporary English Version.

3. READ IT TO LEARN ABOUT A SPECIFIC TOPIC. Look up a ton of verses on angels, prayer, love, friendship, evil, happiness—whatever interests you. Many Bibles have indexes or concordances that list verses or passages related to major topics. Biblegateway.com has a button labeled "Topical Index." Use it to search out just about any area you can think of.

4. READ IT FOR THE BIG STORY. As you read the Bible, remember that there's a consistent theme all the way through: After the world goes bad, God sends a death–defying Superhero (Jesus) to deliver humanity from destruction and darkness. That's the whole story from Genesis to Revelation. Look for glimpses of this Big Story each time you read.

5. READ IT TO LEARN ABOUT JESUS. After his resurrection, Jesus led his disciples in a "Bible study" about himself—and he started with the writings of Moses and went on through all the teachings of the Old Testament prophets (Luke 24:27). The point: Jesus is all over the Bible—including the Old Testament. As you read the Old Testament, look for glimpses of Jesus. For instance, every time you read about sacrifices in Leviticus, realize that each sacrifice points to Jesus—the ultimate and lasting sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 9:11-15).

6. READ IT AS A RECORD OF MESSY HISTORY. Around 40 people from many different cultures and backgrounds wrote the Bible over a 1,500-year period. In the midst of all that history, you'll run across strange ancient rituals and practices. You'll find passages where God's people kept slaves, had dozens of wives, committed adultery, lied and cheated. The Bible really isn't the "clean and neat" book people often expect it to be. But it is honest and real. It also shows God's movement amid imperfect (and sometimes really messed–up) people. And this means our God can be trusted to stick with us no matter what.

7. READ IT INTENTIONALLY WITH A PURPOSE. While there are a lot of good ways to study the Bible, here is a method that works for a lot of people: Pick one book from the Bible and plan to read it from beginning to end over, say, a semester. If you haven't been reading the Bible for very long, pick one of the shorter New Testament books, like Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians or Colossians. Begin by reading a little bit about the book so you can understand why it was written. Two Bibles with good, short introductions (and many helpful study notes) are The Life Application Bible and The Student Bible.
Read a short section or chapter (around 10-15 verses) once. Ask yourself: What does this passage say? What does it mean? If needed, look up hard–to–understand words in a dictionary.
Read the short section again and ask: What is one thing from this passage I can apply to my life?
Ask yourself: What in this passage is hard to understand? Write down two or three questions you have about the passage and talk them over with a youth leader.
Tell someone what you've learned from the passage.

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