“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty.” – Jeremiah 15:16
Despite Christianity being one of the largest religions in the world, it’s surprising to know how few actually read the Holy Bible. Although the Bible in various translations is the most read book in the Philippines, a big 60% of the population does not read the Bible or even own one. Why, when most of us are Christians, claim to love God and Christ, are there only few people who read His Word?
There are actually a number of reasons, but one of the most common answers from Christians is that they become bored easily. If this were to be said in church, a collective gasp would fall over the crowd, but in the comfort of close company, more Christians are willing to admit that they have a difficult time reading through all the information that is pretty packed into the Bible. (Especially the ‘begots’ sections. While they are important, these can quickly become boring, daunting verses for a new believer trying to conquer the Holy Book.)
Finding an approach that would excite and motivate you in reading the Bible is important, because studying the good news and knowing the truth are two of the most important tasks a believer has in this life. In Jeremiah 15:16, God does not tell us that we must simply read the Bible. Instead, we should begin reading the Word as a discipline so it becomes a joy and the delight of our heart.
This delight thing is a gift that God is offering to us. But as with most of God’s offers, it seems to contradict our experience. So how then can we accomplish our Christian assignment without getting bored? Here are 7 ways:
1. Set the mood.
Before starting anything else, pray for him to open your heart and mind to His Word. Ask for understanding when you are lacking, and request patience and determination when you find yourself lagging in certain areas. Then wait for the Holy Spirit to settle inside you. Doing this before reading will definitely help you to receive His Word far better than simply opening the Book and reading.
Read in silence and solitude. Entertainment from iPad, Netflix, smartphone etc. is junk food for the soul. If you find any of these more entertaining, put them away so that they don’t distract you from your time with God. Let the Scripture satisfy your thirsty soul and fill your heart and mind with the healthier things (Psalm 107:9).
2. Buy a premium Journaling Bible.
Once you have tackled a children’s Bible and have a general understanding of all the stories, it may be a good choice to invest in a Journaling Bible. And choose one that’s expensive so you’ll be motivated not to waste it or leave it alone to gather dust on the shelf.
Journaling Bibles are especially helpful tool if you’re trying to discern what God is telling you in certain passages. They can also be a way to bolster your heart as you search your inner being, paying attention to what is going on in your heart and submitting it to God.
I highly recommend these Bibles from Faith Scribblers if you’re thinking about purchasing a Journaling Bible. Currently, they’re the only ones offering Journaling Bibles in the Philippines. Sure, I’ve found shops that carry one or two pieces but Faith Scribbler’s price is the lowest I have found in the country. The designs of their Bibles allow for a slow down, enough to attend to your inner being.
You can express yourself while reading and remind yourself of God’s greatness in a multitude of different ways: from writing down notes using colored markers, to drawing your visions though water or pencil color, to hand-lettering with doodles and calligraphy, to decorating your conversations with God with pressed flowers, letters and other flat crafts. The ways to creative inspiration are endless.
Of course, decorating your Bible isn’t required if you choose to go with a Journaling Bible. There is no right or wrong way to journal. Many simply take detailed notes, highlight passages, and use these notes to do further research as well.
For me, I simply love writing. And this hardcover ESV Single Column Journaling Bible from Faith Scribblers is my way to intentionally use my gifting to grow in Christ. I craft quotes, prayers, and personal reflections in this Bible. I then just finish off with a simple pencil art.
I journal about the truth presented in Scripture in its ruled lines or the things God is teaching me through life application and circumstances. Sometimes, my words flow effortlessly, sometimes they take time to be stringed. Either way, journaling helps me to contemplate, reflect, and digest God’s words more fully. It helps me pay attention and keep wisdom at the forefront of my thoughts.
You can even share your work online via Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram just like these. Because besides admiring someone’s beautiful art and craftwork, journaling Bibles will allow you to commune with other people and share the information you will receive from God’s Word. Or you can just simply use it as a diary to which to later refer. So whenever you’re spiritually thirsty, you can look back at your journal Bible and be reminded of God’s truth and find encouragement in His past faithfulness.
Seriously, what can be more motivating and exciting than that?
3. Choose a translation that works for you.
Aside from the popular and my preferred ESV, here are three more versions and their positives and negatives:
1. King James Version (KJV) – This has been known, by many Christians, to be the most difficult version of the Bible to read. With that being said, it is also supposed to be the ‘most accurate’ version of the English translations- meaning that the language most resembles that of the Arabic that was used in the original writing. While the ‘thee’s’ and ‘thou’s’ can be a little overwhelming at times, with practice, this translation can become like second nature. If your desire is to eventually utilize your Bible for teaching and witnessing, having a KJV Bible is very beneficial if you want to grow deeper with God’s word. (Example: Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. -Proverbs 31:10)
2. The Bible in Basic English (BBE) – This version is pretty straight-forward, giving you some of the most basic, literal translations of Biblical verses in the Bible. Although, there are those that consider this translation to lose some of the specific meaning, metaphors, allusions, etc., that are meant to be in the verses as well. Also, while trying to give the most modern version of the text, it can also over complicate the verse as well. Compare the above example, in its simplicity to the one below. (Example: Who may make discovery of a woman of virtue? For her price is much higher than jewels. -Proverbs 31:10)
3. New International Version (NIV) – This is another, widely popular and my favorite translation of the Bible. The wonderful thing about this translation is that, while it strives to make the verses as easy as possible to read, it also tries to stick to as closely to the original format of the KJV translation as well. This means that very complicated verses are simplified, but others are closer to the original KJV version. This translation is truly an excellent choice for you if you’re just starting your Bible-reading journey, and if you don’t wish to lose some of the important information God intends for you to know. (Example: A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. -Proverbs 31:10)
4. Get a reading plan.
Like eating a large meal, the Bible is a large book and is best ‘digested’ in smaller portions. This is also a great tool to keep you from growing bored as you read through all the passages. There are a number of reading plans available, with some being found online with devotionals that go along with the daily reading.
It’s actually quite difficult to choose the ‘right’ reading plan. Many who decide to read the Bible read it from Genesis to Revelation and have found that reading like this is beneficial for them.
Another way, that some believe to be highly enjoyable is to read the Bible chronologically, or in the order in which its stories started and ended. By reading the Bible chronologically, it can sometimes make those reading it feel as though they are reading a novel, making it easier to remember specific story points. This would also be a great tool for anyone who is confused about the order of events in the Bible.
For a list of some reading plans and even a calendar to help keep you on track, I highly recommend the YouVersion Bible app because of its great user interface. Plus, you can get the Bible version and reading plans for free.
5. Read commentaries or Google the context.
Over the years, there have been a number of extremely wise people who have read the Bible, studied the meaning behind God’s words to us, and have given commentaries for those that could use further explanation or require more understanding of God’s Word.
Consider these commentaries as not only extra information about stories in the Bible or the Bible as a whole, but also as a sort of ‘review’ of the Bible like you might see on Amazon. These people have spent their time delving into God’s Word, looking up ‘hidden’ meanings behind certain parts of the text, searching for the Arabic and Hebrew words that would shed more light on God’s desires for us, etc. They know the nitty-gritty details about the Word, and they’ve published their findings in these commentaries so that we can partake in this knowledge as well. Try searching for Bible commentaries to listen to or read along with your own Bible studies.
6. Remember that the Bible is a breathing book.
In the end, the most important piece of information to remember when deciding to tackle this rather large feat is that the Bible is the written proof of God’s love for us. The Bible is God’s love letter for you. God prepares people for seeing things in His word in His own way. You will be able to see things other people will never see and vice versa. Some may see it as a book of rules, others may see it as a book of stories, but it is always and forever God’s love FOR YOU in the written language.
♡ If you enjoyed this Proverbs 31 Woman story, I’m sure you’ll love this too → How to Disciple Difficult People In Your Small Group.