My husband and I recently joined a new church. We had attended another church for nearly a year and left when it became evident that the teaching was not Biblical and scripture was twisted for the purpose of controlling the membership. I’m not going to write about that experience – but it does introduce what I want to share. And that is the importance of reading the Bible yourself; don’t take someone else’s comments as fact without checking, and always read in context of the rest of the book or chapter. Most of all, don’t be afraid to just open this Book and start to read. I know it can be daunting, I know sometimes it’s confusing, but I promise, it’s written in such a way that anyone can understand. Just take it a little at a time. Start with Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God … and go from there.
When I became a Christian, I spent a great deal of time soaking up scripture, books on theology, Bible studies, and just about anything about Jesus I could get my hands on. I have read a devotional daily since then, using it to study and learn more. I followed a couple different “Bible in a Year” plans and felt good that I had read the whole Bible at least twice. Years later, it’s still the same, I just can’t get enough of His Word!
Since joining our church and we have been immersing ourselves into the Sunday morning classes, Family Ministry Nights on Sunday evening, and of course the regular church service. We are learning so much and look forward to each opportunity to learn more.
I decided I wanted to read the Bible in order, from beginning to end, so a couple months ago I began reading from Genesis. At the same time, I started reading the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) because the Apostles often refer to the Old Testament in their writings. This way I can better understand how the Old Testament relates to the New.
Something our Pastor said last Sunday night stuck in my mind. He said that we often spend time studying our Bibles in preparation for classes, to memorize verses or certain stories in the Bible, but many of us have never read it for the great history it contains – we don’t just read it like a book. We don’t see the forest for the trees, basically. We’re so focused on the smaller stories, like Moses and the Red Sea, King David and Goliath, Saul’s conversion, or Jesus’ death and resurrection, that we miss the bigger story. We miss that the focus of the entire book is Jesus – from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, it’s all about Jesus. Every single word.
I’ve been thinking about the Pastor’s comments for the past couple of days, and realized that the more I read, the more I began to recognize the people and the history. And the more I recognize the people and history, the more I recognize how a prophecy from the Old Testament is playing out in the New Testament. I’ve never been very good at memorization, so I struggle sometimes to remember where I read something on the same topic, or to quote the chapter and location of a specific verse, but I can now recall enough that if given a moment, I can find it.
I tell you all this not to boast about my love of reading, but to share that this Book is the best book I’ve ever read. It’s a history book, a mystery, a love story, a tragedy and a miracle all rolled up into one. On top of that, it will change you. It will change how you see the world. It will change how you see yourself. It will change how you treat others. It will change your marriage. It will change everything you think you know and understand. It will change you like absolutely nothing else you’ve ever tried … and for the better. And the most exciting part is that it is all true. Every single word.
I hear your skepticism, and understand. I used to be skeptical about it too, because some of the stories in there seem a little out of this world. The more I read, the more I understood – the more I knew, without question or doubt, that every word in this Book is God’s word, written down for us, so we can know Him and the love He has for each and every one of us. The more I read, the more I changed, and the more I continue to change.
I challenge you to set aside your skepticism, get a Bible, and start to read. Put aside your preconceptions, and just read. If you get stuck, or have questions, ask someone you know who is a Christian, or ask me. If I can’t help you, I’ll help find someone who can. As we come into Christmas season, and many celebrate the birth of Jesus, what better time to learn what it all means?
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Romans 15:4 NIV