14. Getting started on Bible reading

If you’ve never tried to read the Bible before, here are a few facts and suggestions that will help you to get into it.

First, the Bible is actually a library of 66 books. They were written by many different authors (but inspired by the same God) over a period of hundreds of years. The last book was finished around 2,000 years ago, and they were all written in ancient languages. There are many translations of the Bible into English. The texts we’ve looked at come from a translation called the New King James Version which is an update of a beautiful translation done in the time of Shakespeare. There are more modern versions also, but some of them are looser translations of the original languages.

Second, there is a lot of detailed writing about law, history, and genealogies. There are also some sections of prophecy which may be perplexing to a newcomer. These are not the easiest places to start. You can begin in the first book, Genesis, (which is really interesting) but if you try to begin at page 1 of the Bible and just read forward, you may get bogged down. Most people can relate more easily to the books of Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, or the gospels of Luke or John as starting points. But there are wonderful things for you all through the Bible. Just keep looking until you find something that speaks to your heart.

Third, every time you want to read, talk with God before you start. Ask Him to help you to hear Him speaking to you. Ask for understanding. He will always give this to you if you persevere. He has so much He wants to say to you!

Fourth, find some Bible study guides to help you navigate through all the varied subject matter of the Bible. The Bible can answer so many of your questions and give you help with so many different challenges. You may want to ask someone who knows the Bible well to study with you, or you can find lots of help online. Try http://truthlink.org/ —studies written to explain Bible concepts to a searcher with no previous experience of the Bible.

Fifth, if you want to look up a Bible reference or write one down, do it this way: Isaiah 1:18. Isaiah is the name of the book (you can find an index of the books in the first few pages of a Bible.) 1:18 refer to the chapter and verse. You would go to chapter 1 of the book of Isaiah, and then scan down until you see an 18. Many people underline things they want to find again with a colored pencil if they are using the Bible in book form rather than digital.

Sixth and last, be patient. If you don’t understand something, ask God for help and keep reading. There will be plenty that speaks to you plainly. When you do understand something, act on it if needed, and your understanding of other things will grow. God has new things to teach you forever. It’s a wonderful adventure. Enjoy!