Bible Intake (Part 2)

This post was previously published on another blog by me. Due to its relevance, I’ve included it here.

Here is the second part of the entry from yesterday. I thought about leaving the entry as a stand alone piece, but I’ve discovered that working through the questions personally does two things. It allows me to process what I’ve put out there, and it can be a bit of an example to someone who is interested in seeing the flow of the questions worked out in someone else’s mind.

So, here we go. I hope this serves you in some way. If not, I’m sure your own personal journey may be more fruitful to you than mine. In either case, I’d like to encourage all of us to consider reading the Bible on a regular basis for our own personal growth and development. I imagine we can’t go wrong if we spend time in His Word, eh?

Why am I reading?
I choose to read because it is the perfect opportunity for me to gain familiarity with the Bible in a slightly different way than I would using other practices. Reading offers me the opportunity to get to know the expressed will of God in a less intense, yet still powerful way. I am not focused on the intimate details, the Hebrew or Greek words, or the deepest applications of the truths. My reading time is about the flow of the Scriptures, the larger themes, events, and details to give me perspective on whatever I might be reading at a less “nit-picky” level. I may choose to cover more ground than I would in Bible study or Bible memorization, but there is a reason. Context may be better noticed in larger passages. There is a function to reading, I believe.

In my reading time, I am sure to pray before I ever let my eyes move on the page. I am focused on leaving room for the Holy Spirit to teach and instruct, possibly pick up larger themes of application, or to offer encouragement in areas which need shoring up. I am intentional about my reading choices, but never so self-focused that I don’t take the time to communicate with my God along the way. Reading without Him involved in the activity would be similar to going into class completely unprepared and expecting tremendous results. (Here is where I imagine me in math with no instructor. Ugh!)

What am I reading?
This is a fantastic question to ask before heading into the Bible! I find reading is ever so much more powerful and easier when I choose something for a reason and purpose. Quite simply, our loving God has given us “everything we need for this life and for Godliness” in His expressed will in Scripture. Wow! Everything I need? (Uh huh! Everything!) How wonderful is that! We find ourselves in this imperfect world with a natural spirit that desires…and desires…and desires more, and God has given us everything we need! (Thank you, God!) So, in my deepest need, I can always find something in the Bible to comfort, soothe, inspire, redirect, encourage, or fill in the blank. There is nothing left to us to hammer out on our own. I think I’m pretty convinced of that. I hope you are, too.

So, what might be useful in my day to day life? When I seek wisdom, I tend to read Solomon’s Proverbs. When my marriage needs a little boost, Solomon’s Song might be useful.  😉   When I need to cry out to God with my whole heart, I may choose to read a psalm of David and let his words speak for me. If I don’t know where to go, I may pull out my Topical Study of the Bible reference book and find what I need that way. Notice that I am not pulling out the reference for study. This is strictly to point me in the direction of Scriptures that will meet me where I am and lead me toward God. I may ask a friend for inspiration on what to read next. Or, I may read around the text from Sunday’s teaching for a fuller understanding of the context.

I hope this gives you some ideas without being too overwhelming. The point is to find ourselves more naturally in the Bible on a regular basis. I find reading to be a very friendly way of accomplishing that goal first and foremost.

Who wrote this, and who read it?

I think context has everything to do with some of the major parts of any written work. My friend Suzy Scribbles would be so excellent at going into depth on this one. When writing a work, we would think about context on lots of levels. Reading is no different. Knowing the author, audience, setting, time frame, major events, details, etc., are incredibly helpful. No, this isn’t study! If it was, we would go into each one of these more specifically. For reading, I encourage you to have a very good, general grasp on the big picture. Who wrote this? Who was the writer’s audience? Is there a purpose or goal to the written communication. Old Testament law and history books and New Testament letters had specific audience and function. Have a little fun with this. Imagine yourself as the audience then and now.  🙂

What is the function of Bible reading in my life?
I encourage you to answer this question for yourself now. I’ve written a bit in the other questions to give you a little inspiration. Try figuring out how God wants to use Bible reading in your own personal life!

Is reading different than Bible study? How is it different?

Take this one and run with it now. I think you’ll have some good ideas to begin with, and now you’re ready to remind yourself each time you open your Bible that this is not intended to be a “heady” time with God each time. It has a function and a place for you to feel relaxed, comfortable, and confident.

Enjoy your Bible reading time, friends!

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