There are countless bible reading plans and countless versions of the bible. It can be overwhelming to pick one, so how do you?
God wants you to grow in your faith and in your relationship with Him. One of the ways this happens is by reading God’s Word, the Bible, and letting its truth transform our hearts and minds. As we read the Bible, we discover who He is and what He wants to do in our lives. We also learn what He has done to save us and how He wants us to live. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul wrote, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
Our hope for you is that you will learn to read and apply God’s Word and be able to experience the full and meaningful life in Christ that Jesus described in John 10:10. Here is a simple plan to get you started:
- Choose a Bible version that’s understandable and easy to read.
The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek. One of the earliest translations to English was the King James Version (KJV), but today we have a variety of versions to choose from. I recommend the English Standard Version (ESV) or the New Living Translation (NLT if you’re a beginner).
Here is the bottom line: If we don’t understand it, we won’t read it.
- You don’t have to start at the beginning of the Bible.
The Bible contains 66 separate books that are compiled into one book. There are 39 books in the Old Testament, and they tell the story of God and His people before the coming of the Messiah - Jesus. There are 27 books in the New Testament, and they tell the story of Jesus beginning with His birth. If you are new to the Bible, the Gospel of John is a great place to start. This is John’s, one of the closest disciples of Jesus, eyewitness account of the life of Jesus. John states that He wrote this book to help us believe that Jesus is the Messiah, so it is a great place to begin.
“These things were written to you to help you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)
- Work your way through a book of the Bible.
It is recommended that you pick one book of the Bible and read a little each day. You can choose to read a chapter a day or even less if that is better for you. This approach to Scripture is much better than just thumbing through the Bible and picking a random verse. If you start with the book of John and read one chapter a day, you will finish that book in 21 days. After reading John's book, move to the other gospels - Matthew, Mark, or Luke. Another great place to read is the practical encouragement and instruction about living the Christian life from the books of Philippians, Ephesians, and Colossians. Genesis explains how everything began. Psalms is full of heartfelt prayers and encouragement. Romans is a great book to learn about the doctrine of Christianity. Work your way through one book at a time.
- Use the SOAP method for reading and applying God’s word to your life.
SOAP stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer and involves four simple steps.
- Scripture - Read the passage. It may help to read it out loud or even write it down.
- Observation - Ask these questions: (It is wise to write your thoughts on each of these questions as your work through them.)
- What does this passage say about God, Jesus, or His plan?
- What does this passage say about humans?
- Application - Ask God how He wants you to apply the passage to your own life. Ask these questions: (It is wise to write your thoughts on each of these questions as your work through them.)
- What am I doing well?
- What do I need to change?
- Prayer - Use the ACTS acronym to guide your conversation with God about what you are learning.
Adoration - Give God praise and honor for who He is as Lord over all
Confession - Honestly deal with sin in your life.
Thanksgiving - Talk to God about what you are grateful for in your life and in the world around you.
Supplication - Pray for the needs of others and yourself.
Be intentional about getting God’s Word into your thoughts, and you’ll soon see your relationship with God thrive and your life change.
The Bible was never meant to merely inform us; the Bible was meant to transform us!