How To Get The Most Out Of Your Bible Reading

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

The Word of God is so deep, but we can get more out of God’s Word with a little help. Here are a few ideas.

Meditating on the Word

One of the most underused things believers do is to not meditate on the Word of God. Many do, but most do not even know what meditate on the Word means. The psalmist wrote, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2). Its one thing to read the Word, but it’s another to stop and contemplate what we just read in the Word. Sometimes we pass over them too quickly. I would rather read only a few lines of Scripture and mediate on these than read a whole chapter and not remember most of it. When we take time to reflect, ponder, and mediate on His Word, the Word penetrates deep into our minds, allowing us to internalize just how awesome is our God is. We lose out on so much when we simply read over the Word and not meditate on it. God told Joshua, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8). Notice God didn’t tell Joshua just to read it. We presume he will read it, but God told him specifically to mediate on it day and night. That’s not just reading your Bible; its reading and contemplating its meaning, and finding the very purpose behind the verses. And I don’t see any reason we can’t mark our Bible. I use a color coding. The real important verses I want to meditate on are highlighted in yellow, some are underlined, others are circled, and I’ve got reasons for all three, so I see no reason why we can’t mark our Bibles.

“… you shall meditate on it day and night” (Joshua 1:8).

Keeping it in Context

It is so easy to rip text out of context and create a pretext, and it’s usually a false one. That’s how cults are formed. They use “proof texts” to build doctrine. They ignore who it was written too, why it was written, if it was written to us or the Jews, and so on, so we need to take the whole context of the verse within the context of the paragraph, and within the context of the chapter and sometimes even within the context of the book. Proof texting only leads to doctrinal error, and this leads to debates and arguments among Christians. There is no reason we can’t keep texts within their proper context. Often the very verses the “proof texter’s” leave out are the very ones that prove that their point is wrong. They put a period where there is actually a comma!

Make it Personal

I love to read Scripture in my messages and personalize them to some who are sitting in the congregation. For example, I might say, “For God so loved Jerry that he gave his only begotten Son, so that if Jerry believes in him, he should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Another way to personalize Scripture is to your name or “you” in the verses. Using John 3:16 again, you could say, “For God so loved me that he gave his only begotten Son, so that if I believe in him, I should not perish but have eternal life.” The Bible is God’s love letter written to His children. If unbelievers don’t understand it, remember, they’re reading someone else’s mail! But we have the privilege of understanding it by God’s Spirit.

Prescriptive vs. Descriptive

I get many, many messages from our readers who are attacking those who don’t keep the Sabbath, and the problem is often that they’re confused about which Scriptures in the Bible is prescriptive and which is descriptive. My problem with the Saturday Sabbath command is it was never given to the Gentiles, and the only times when the Sabbath command was given in the Bible, it always had attached to it, “Thus say to the children of Israel.” Unless someone’s an orthodox Jew, I see no reason to try and tell people they must keep the Sabbath because this command was given expressly to Israel. It was prescriptive to them; just as going do the cross to die for our own sins was not prescriptive to us. Only Jesus could God to the cross to die for our sins as He was sinless. Taking up our cross doesn’t mean crucifixion is just around the corner for us. All Scripture is written for believers, but not all Scripture is written expressly to believers to obey. For example, all medicines are made for people, but not all medicines are for all people. Doctors give very specific prescriptions to their patients. God does the same with Scripture. Some verses are prescriptive, like to the Jews, while others are descriptive, meaning they’re r written for everyone. We can’t read about the animal sacrifices in Leviticus and try to apply these to believers today. They are not prescriptive to us. That would be ridiculous. The authorities would arrest us. These verses about the animal sacrifices are prescriptive, being written to Israel and not to the church. They are descriptive in prefiguring Jesus’ coming sacrifice, but they are not prescribed for us.

The Spirit’s Guidance

Any and every time you’re about to read the Word of God, you need to pray for the Teacher or Helper to come and open your eyes to the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit can help us be more sensitive to the Word and make more sense of the Scriptures. Ask the Spirit to show you what God is saying to you this in His Word; what He is saying to you personally; and where this is applicable in your life. As Jesus told the disciples, so He tells believers today that “the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). That’s the kind of help I need to get the most out of my Bible reading.

Bible Reading Plan

Have a Bible reading plan and stick to it.

As for me, I like to start in the Old Testament and go from Genesis to Malachi and also from the Gospel of Matthew to Revelation. In fact, every day I read some out of the Old Testament and some out of the New Testament, so I get a good look at God’s plan and His will for my life. That keeps the Scriptures within context (avoiding pretexts), and I know which is descriptive (the parting of the Red sea) and which is prescriptive (animal sacrifices). Don’t worry so much about how much you read as much as the fact that you do read it every day. We don’t eat one meal on Sunday, expecting it to last us all week do we, so we must have a daily intake of the Word of God…our daily bread, to sustain us through the difficult trials, temptations, and tests that come to every believer during the week. Have a plan and try to stick to it. Don’t feel you have time? Set your alarm 10 minutes earlier. It’s mind over mattress.

Conclusion

Have you ever heard of “hunt and peck” Bible reading? That’s where someone opens their Bible at random, and just picks a verse. They might make it their “verse of the day,” but that’s not a good way to get the most out of your Bible. By this method, one could close their eyes and put their finger on a verse and it says, “go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37), and then, “what you do, do quickly” (John 13:27), and finally, “And Judas went out and hanged himself” (Matt 27:5). You can see the folly in such a Bible reading plan. I doubt that’d make a good “life verse” or “Verse of the Day.” Read with purpose. Read the entire context. Ask for the Spirit’s help. Take notes. Personalize your reading, and I can promise you that you’ll get the most out of your Bible reading.

Here is some related reading for you: Where is the Best Place to Start Reading the Bible for a New Christian?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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