As you saw yesterday, for the next little while I’m going to take some time to look at some of my (and your) favorite Bible passages as part of our morning reflection. If you have a verse that is a favorite of yours, or a verse that you’ve had questions about, let me know, and I’ll add it to my list. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll add them to my list to work on in the coming days.
But before we get to that I wanted to say a quick word about reading the Bible. For many of us, reading the Bible can be an intimidating thing. It can look really big, really scary, and not always make a lot of sense. So, I wanted to offer a few helpful guides to reading the Bible.
Take the words as they lay before you. Read them for what they say, don’t overthink it, or over-spiritualize it. Everything is not a code to be cracked. Read the words on the page, simply, for what they say. Don’t overthink it. Read the Bible simply, quietly, humbly. Listening.
This is so important. You can pull anyone verse of our context and make the Bible stay anything you want it to say. That is why when I read the Bible, I try to read the section that the verse is in. You want to always understand the context of the verse. No one verse stands alone. It all stands together.
This is just as important as context. The Bible is a book, made up of 66 other books. All the books tell the same story of God’s plan of redemption, but they are all different. We read them that way. For instance, the Psalms are poetry. We read them differently from Acts, which is history, or Ephesians which is a letter. When you what what “type” or book it is, it helps it all make sense. For a little help with this, check out my sermon series “The Bible as a Bookshelf.”
Easy and hard
There are a lot of things in the Bible that are hard to understand. That is why we always interpret the hard verses through the simpler ones. For instance, John 3:16 is the lens that I look at the Bible through. When I don’t understand something I always look at it through that lens, God so loved the world, that He gave us Jesus. If my interpretation runs different from that, I need to reexamine it.
God is not playing hide and seek with scripture. He’s not trying to trip you. The Methodist Church believes: “The Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.”
In other words, if it is so important your salvation depends upon it, it will be found in scripture and it will be able to be understood. Interpret the hard through the easy.
Remember you are not reading the newspaper or a history book. You are reading the sacred, inspirit Word. Read it spiritually. Read it prayerfully. Listen. Pray. Pray before you read. Pray after you read. Don’t rush. Don’t try to read a thousand verses. Read with spiritual eyes. We believe that reading the Bible is a means of grace; through scripture, we receive God’s grace, we grow, we learn, and we are changed. Read it not just for head knowledge, read it for heart change.
I hope this is helpful. Never be afraid to reach out to me with any questions you may have about the Bible! I’d love to talk to you more about it.
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