Tips and Resources for Bible Intake

Where can you come to know Jesus Christ more? Through God’s Word, the Bible. The life of God’s new creation community, the church, is marked by a devotion to the Scriptures: “Let the word of Christ richly dwell among you” (Colossians 3:16). Below are seven practical ways to take in more of God’s Word.

Read the Bible

Scripture was written for the church’s instruction and growth. It is essential to the life of the church. One of the best ways to get into God’s Word is to read it.

Tips

  • Read when is good for you: There is no mandated time to read the Bible in Scripture. When are you at your best? Mornings? Evenings? On the train during your morning commute? Read the Bible at a time which is good for you.
  • Use a readable translation: One of the issues of the Protestant Reformation was giving the Bible back into the hands of the people, especially in the language of the people (the “vernacular”). Read the Bible using a translation which is understandable to you. Three translations I like are:
    • ESV (English Standard Version)
    • NIV (New International Version)
    • NLT (New Living Translation)
  • Use medium which is good for you: You don’t always have to read a physical hard copy of the Bible. If you have an smart phone or a tablet, download a Bible app. The most popular Bible app out there is YouVersion. The great thing about YouVersion is that it’s free and has hundreds of translations to pick from!
  • Use a plan which works for you: As predictable as New Year’s Resolutions to get in shape is the resolution by Christians to read the Bible in a year. Which is a great goal, but usually by the time they get to Leviticus, it all crashes and burns. So pick a plan which works for you. Maybe reading the Bible in a year is not a realistic goal for you. Maybe try these other plans
    • Read a chapter a day
    • Pick a plan from this list.
    • Read along with a devotional

Resources

Besides those tips, there are plenty of awesome resources to help you get into God’s Word.

  • Study Bibles: Study Bibles have “cheat” notes at the bottom of the page written by pastors and scholars to help you understand the Bible. One of the best study Bibles available today is the ESV Study Bible.
  • Devotionals: A good devotional will usually give an explanation of the Biblical text and then apply it to practical life, and usually end with some encouragement to press on in the faith. Solid devotionals are:
    • Our Daily Bread: A solid devotional for beginning Bible readers. It is available for free online as well as free in print
    • For the Love of God: This devotional was written by renowned New Testament scholar, D.A. Carson. It follows a Bible in a year reading plan, with explanation of a chapter of the Bible each day.
    • Solid Joys: A devotional by John Piper. It is available both online and as an app for a smartphone/tablet.
  • Children’s Bibles: Using a Bible in which your children can understand is important. Here are some children’s Bibles and resources
    • The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones. This is the children’s Bible Pastor Brett most commonly recommends. It fits each smaller story of the Bible into the larger story of Scripture, which is all focused on Jesus
    • The Bible’s Big Story by Jim Hamilton. Hamilton wants to give children an accessible overview of the whole Bible and how the story is all about Jesus. He also wrote a blog post on how to use The Bible’s Big Story to disciple your children here.

Listen to the Bible

Maybe you haven’t read a book since college, and the thought of reading such a big book like the Bible is intimidating. One way to ease into the Bible is to listen to it. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

  • Buy audio Bible CDs and pop in the car. Listen while you are commuting to work.
  • Download a FREE audio Bible and load it on to your iPhone or iPod.

Memorize the Bible

Usually anything worth accomplishing in this lifetimes takes hard work. Is memorizing the Bible hard? Yes. But it is extremely important. A guy who discipled me used to say, “How can you fight temptation if the only verses in your mind are Genesis 1:1 and John 3:16?” The point: we need various Bible verses to fight various temptations. Memorize the Word. If you think your iPhone can bring the Bible with you everywhere, imagine what it would be like to have God’s Word with you at all times, even if your phone runs out of battery. That is what memorization can do for you. Here is a practical way to memorize the Word:

Sample daily procedure: The following is an example of how someone could go about memorizing Ephesians at the rate of one verse per day:

1) Day one: Read Ephesians 1:1 out loud ten times, looking at each word as if photographing it with your eyes. Be sure to include the verse number. Then cover the page and recite it ten times. You’re  done for the day.

2) Day two: Yesterday’s verse first!! Recite yesterday’s verse, Ephesians 1:1 ten times, being sure to include the verse number. Look in the Bible if you need to, just to refresh your memory. Now, do your new verse. Read Ephesians 1:2 out loud ten times, looking at each word as if photographing it with your eyes. Be sure to include the verse number. Then cover the page and recite it ten times. You’re done for the day.

3) Day three: Yesterday’s verse first!! Recite yesterday’s verse, Ephesians 1:2 ten times, being sure to include the verse number. Again, you should look in the Bible if you need to, just to refresh your memory. Old verses next, altogether: Recite Ephesians 1:1-2 together once, being sure to include the verse numbers. Now, do your new verse. Read Ephesians 1:3 out loud ten times, looking at each word as if photographing it with your eyes. Be sure to include the verse number. Then cover the page and recite it ten times. You’re done for the day.

4) Day four: Yesterday’s verse first!! Recite yesterday’s verse, Ephesians 1:3 ten times, being sure to include the verse number. Again, you should look in the Bible if you need to, just to refresh your memory. Old verses next, altogether: Recite Ephesians 1:1-3 together once, being sure to include the verse numbers. Now, do your new verse. Read Ephesians 1:4 out loud ten times, looking at each word as if photographing it with your eyes. Be sure to include the verse number. Then cover the page and recite it ten times. You’re done for the day.

This cycle would continue through the entire book. Obviously, the “old verses altogether” stage will soon swell to take the most time of all. That’s exactly the way it should be. The entire book of Ephesians can be read at a reasonable rate in less than fifteen minutes. Therefore, the “old verses altogether” stage of your review should not take longer than that on any given day. Do it with the Bible ready at hand, in case you draw a blank or get stuck . . . there’s no shame in looking, and it actually helps to nail down troublesome verses so they will never be trouble again (When I Don’t Desire God by John Piper, pg. 117).

Meditate on the Word

Biblical meditation is not like Eastern meditation where the goal is to empty the mind. Rather, the purpose of biblical meditation is to fill the mind with God’s word. [The righteous person’s] delight is in the Law of the Lord and in His Law, he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2). Don Whitney gives some practical help for meditating on the Word:

[Meditation] takes the verse or phrase of Scripture and turns it like a diamond to examine every facet. A meditation on Jesus’ words at the beginning of John 11:25 would look like this:

I am the resurrection and the life’
‘I am the resurrection and the life.’
‘I am the resurrection and the life.’
‘I am the resurrection and the life.’
‘I am the resurrection and the life.’
‘I am the resurrection and the life.’
‘I am the resurrection and the life.’

Of course, the point is not simply to repeat vainly each word of the verse until they’ve all been emphasized. The purpose is to think deeply upon the light (truth) that flashes into your mind each time the verse is turned (Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, pg. 53)

Study the Word

Studying God’s Word is a great way to learn it better. By thoroughly investigating the text, you are able to uncover great riches from the Word. Here are two methods for studying God’s Word:

Sing the Word

The full verse of Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell richly within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Singing is an indispensable way of learning the Word and teaching the word to others. Here are some tips for singing the Word.

  • Sing Loud in Church: It took me a while to get over myself (because I have a terrible voice!), but when I did, I realized that God didn’t care about the quality of my singing, but the heart behind it. So I sing loud in church encourage others to join with me in praising for great God.
  • Sing with, and to, your children: This is a great way to bring the Word to them and have them thinking about God. Take, for example, a song like the Doxology: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” Think about how much awesome theology is packed into that one line. 1) God is worthy of worship (“Praise God”); 2) He is Good (all blessings flow from Him).
  • Listen to good music: I do not think that listening to secular music is evil, or worldly. But I do liken pop music to candy. It’s good in small doses, but you won’t be nourished by it. I think that Christian music has come a long way in terms of musical quality. So now, there are many choices to listen to which combine great music and great lyrics. Here are some artists who do both really well:

Pray the Word

Another great way to get into God’s Word is to pray it. Pastor Daniel Montgomery  defines prayer as “Getting in God’s face with God’s Word.” I love that. Because it centers us on praying for what God values.

  • One idea might be to consider using the prayers of Paul to shape the prayers that you pray (Ephesians 1:15-23; Colossians 1:3-14; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12; 2 Timothy1:3-14)
  • In Colossians 1:9 Paul prays, “We have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you would be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Here is an example of what it might look like to pray that Scripture for your friend:
    • “God, I ask you that you might fill her with the knowledge of Your will. Let her truly come to understand and Your ways. Give her guidance and direction from Your Word so that she will live in accordance with Your revealed will. Give her spiritual wisdom and understanding into Your will so that she might live according to Your Word. “
  • The best resource I have found for praying God’s Word is Face to Face  by Kenneth Boa. It turns Scriptures into prayers that you can follow along with, and it also gives you prayer request prompts so that you can pray for the specific things which are happening in your life and the lives of those around you.

What practical tips and resources do you have that help you get into God’s Word?

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