Have you ever read those articles or blog posts that are "5 Keys to ________". I've been seeing a lot of them lately. 5 Keys to Getting Out of Debt, 5 Keys to Organizing Your Home, 5 Keys to Losing Weight. I always think that these articles may have some new bit of knowledge that will be helpful, but usually I just read 5 points that anyone with a little bit of common sense could have come up with on their own. So my post today is about the 5 Keys For Reading the Bible. Don't expect some earth shattering news. It's really just a little bit of common sense.
1. Make it personal.
When did being a Christian become so complicated? It isn't complicated at all. Just read the Bible as if it's a message for you. Because it is. Simply read it, think about it, believe what it says, and apply it.
2. Make it personal.
Pray for God to make it personal and He will. I'll share an example that just happened to me this week. It's long, so try to stay with me.
Sunday morning I woke up before everyone else and started my day with reading my Bible. First I prayed for God to make it personal for me. I did this on purpose because I've been reading my Bible through as if I'm doing one of those programs to read the Bible in a year. I'm sure it will take me longer than a year but the point is that I'm not reading the Bible randomly, but in the order that it's written. I never last very long doing this because it becomes tedious to me, but I want that to be different this time so I prayed for God to make it personal. When I opened my Bible I found myself at the story of Abram and Melchizedek, which is a tithing story. My husband and I both believe in tithing but we've been letting it slip a lot. But it didn't stop there.
We hadn't been to church for a few weeks so I was really looking forward to being back in church. However, we were really late for church and when we pulled in the parking lot it was packed. We knew that we would have to walk down front to get a seat and this back row couple didn't want to do that. (Despite what some people believe, God shows up in the back row also.) There's another church nearby that starts much later than our church so we went there and we were almost on time. The sermon was II Chronicles 29. The end of the chapter is about the people giving their offerings. A coincidence? With God, there is no such thing as coincidence. And it all started with a prayer that morning to make it personal.
Now, this is just an example and tithing might not be what's personal to you right now. But it's what was personal for me and my family.
3. Make it personal.
Reading the Bible and knowing what it says, doesn't make it personal. Knowledge is a good thing, but it isn't everything. I went to Bible school and I can honestly say that none of my Bible classes brought me closer to God. A good Bible class can be a good thing. I love facts. Give me a fact instead of an opinion any time. The truth is that I don't even care about most opinions, but I'm thankful that I live in a country where people are free to express their opinion. But the Bible isn't just a textbook. It's the living Word of God. It's for my life, right now. There is an answer in the Bible for every personal situation that I'm facing at this very moment. And sometimes the answer for me isn't the same as the answer for someone else. But God is big enough to handle that, and His Word can guide each person for their personal circumstances.
4. Make it personal.
Context is crucial. Don't just take what someone else says is personal to them and make it personal to you. Don't read just one verse and draw conclusions. Read the whole passage, read the whole chapter, or sometimes read the whole book. I can't tell you how many sermons and sermon points I've listened to that use a monologue from one of Job's friends to back up the point. Job's friends got it wrong, but you have to read the entire book to know that. Personally check out everything.
5. Make it personal.
If you read that you have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16) then stop calling yourself stupid, because Christ isn't stupid. It's as simple as that. Read it, think about it, believe it, and apply it to you, personally.
The more that I make the Bible personal, the more that I see how good God is. The negativity that religion taught me as a child vanishes, and it's replaced with how much God loves me. God has given His children many promises, and His instruction is always for our good. Read about it. It's Good News!
" Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do." Joshua 1:15 NLT