This morning, I want to share nine things to do before you even open your Bible to read it. I read a really helpful book called Before you Open your Bible by Matt Smethurst. Matt is the pastor of River City Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia and an editor for the Gospel Coalition. You are welcome to read the book on your own, but I thought I would summarize it for you and hopefully encourage us all in our Bible reading in 2024.
Benefits of reading the Bible.
2 Timothy 3:16–17 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Psalm 119:9 “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.”
Psalm 119:11 “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
Matthew 7:24 ““Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
John 8:31–32 “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.””
John 15:7 “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
1. Approach your Bible PRAYERFULLY
Don’t rush into your Bible reading with your own agenda, your own thoughts and plans.
2. Approach your Bible HUMBLY
Genesis 3 tells us that God was in the habit of walking in the garden of Eden in the cool of the day. Before the fall and sin separated man from God, the Creator walked and talked with Adam and Eve. It says they heard God moving through the garden and they hid themselves because they were afraid.
3. Approach your Bible DESPERATELY
Do you want reading God’s word to be a joy and delight? God wants us to desperately desire his word. He doesn’t want us to snack on the world’s wisdom and then be too full of thoughts and ideas for His word.
Diagnostic questions to help you consider God’s Word as a feast.
- Do I approach the Bible like it’s a snack or a feast?
- Am I just willing to hear from God or am I desperate for His Word?
- Am I simply interested in reading the Bible or am I striving to internalize the Word?
4. Approach your Bible STUDIOUSLY
Do you think of yourself as a theologian? Everyone has thoughts and opinions about God, even those who say he doesn’t exist. If you want to know who God really is, you become a student of God. You study what He says about Himself, the universe and the people He created.
5. Approach your Bible OBEDIENTLY
Fear, walk, love, serve, keep, obey. Fear and love have to do with our thoughts and emotions. Walk, serve, keep, and obey are all about our actions. God wants your heart and your obedience.
Why? Because this is for your own good. God created us to follow His directions and stay within the boundaries He set for us.
6. Approach your Bible JOYFULLY
We talked a lot about joy during advent. God’s desire is for us to find and have abundant or overflowing joy.
7. Approach your Bible EXPECTANTLY
When we prepare to read the Bible, we can expect it to have an effect on our lives and as we share it with others, the Gospel will save people.
8. Approach your Bible COMMUNALLY
You can read your Bible on your own, but make a point of opening the word in community.
9. Approach your Bible Christ-centered
The final approach to reading God’s Word is to see God’s word with Jesus Christ as central.
Someone could approach the Bible with all of the first eight perspectives and miss the whole point of God’s message to us.
Birds-eye view of this incredible collection we call the Bible.
- Sixty-six books of different literary genres
- More than 40 authors from a variety of backgrounds and occupations
- Over 1500 years of writings
- Ten unique civilizations
- Spread over three continents
- Written in three diverse languages
- All telling one unified story of redemption
Another way of seeing the Bible is this:
Old Testament: Anticipation
When you open your Bible, look for Jesus in every chapter. You will either be looking forward to His coming, seeing Him living, dying, and rising from the grave, learning how to follow Him and share the Gospel, or looking forward to his return. It’s all about Jesus!
If you have struggled with reading God’s Word regularly, I hope these nine approaches will help and encourage you to fall in love with Scripture.
You could make a section of Psalm 119 your daily reading for twenty-two days.
You could read a Proverb a day for thirty-one days. That covers any month.
You could choose one of the yearly-reading plans to help you stay on track.
You could use the Bible app with it’s many reading plans.
If you’ve read the Bible through and want to try something different, you can read the chronological Bible which puts all the books and passages in order. There’s one at the Welcome Center.
My favorite way to dig deeper is to read the same chapter every day for a week. Each day I write out one verse and then answer four questions:
- What does the verse say?
- What does it mean in its original setting?
- What does it mean for me today?
- What do I need to do in light of what I learned?
These questions came from On Track devotions which I used in youth ministry for many years. There is more about that and a free “How to study the Bible” download link on today’s sermon on the website.
Ask a family member, spouse, or friend to read with you and help each other stay the course. You can discuss what you read and encourage each other too. You may want to pick a reward to celebrate your completion or to encourage your family to keep going.
Don’t have an all or nothing attitude. If you miss a day, don’t give up. Get back into it again tomorrow.
May God bless you as you learn to love and read His Word faithfully and see the amazing changes that will take place. Let’s be living and active together in the new year.