By the Book | Lesson 3

10 Strategies For First-Rate Reading

Have you ever closed your Bible in frustration, wondering why you didn’t get more out of your study of the Scripture? You’ve heard others talk about mining the riches there, and you wanted to grab a few nuggets for yourself. But after pouring a lot of time and energy into the process, things just didn’t “pan out.” One of the reasons we fail to hit pay dirt is: we don’t know how to read. Our culture has made a radical shift from a word-based society – to an image-based society. As a result, unlike our ancestors a few generations ago we don’t know how to read and to a large extent last lost that art. Yet the Bible is a book, which means it must be read to be appreciated. Try these strategies to help you better understand God’s Word to you.

Read Thoughtfully - Put your thinking cap on. The God of the universe who created you wants to have a relationship with you and here He is communicating directly one on one with you. This is not internet surfing or scanning the headlines; what God says really matters, so read it that way.

Read Repeatedly - The great thing about the Bible is that it is never old. It has staying power. You can read it time and again, but still find new insights into what God is speaking to you. Use different translations or paraphrases and versions. Read the Bible out loud too – this can make an amazing difference.

Read Patiently - You can’t read Leviticus for the first time and expect to come away with all of God’s truths. Remember that the fruit to be taken from Scripture needs time to mature and ripen. Don’t give up. Building this relationship (yours to God) is going to take a lifetime.

Read Selectively - Understand the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and Wherefore (or in other words, the “so what”) of the text. As you ask the questions while you read the text it will begin to come alive for you.

Read Prayerfully - Prayer and reading the Bible should go hand in hand. Start off with prayer before even opening up God’s Word. “Lord, what would you have me learn about today.” “Teach me Lord.” “Lord, show me what to do about ____ as I read your Word.”

Read Imaginatively - Bible reading should not be boring. If you say or think it’s going to be boring, it will be. Just get that out of your mind. as you look at God’s Word, let your mind put the words together into brilliant pictures. Put yourself in the middle of the action. Again, use different translations or paraphrases to get different views using sometimes different words that help you to understand the passage. If you know another language, get a Bible in that language -- nuances between words meanings vary and add subtleties that we may miss in English.

Read Meditatively - Reflect on what you’ve just read. God Himself is speaking to you. Have you listened or just heard? Repeat back to God in prayer what you believe He is trying to teach you. What you think He is saying, say it back to Him.

Read Purposefully - All scripture is profitable! (2 Tim. 3:16-17) Notice that each purpose builds on the next. The Bible was "constructed" purposefully on purpose. There is tremendous structure grammatical as well as literary. It's not a "willy nilly" collection of stories and nice sayings. I if you're looking for meaning, what better place to look than God's Word?

Read Acquisitively - Are we reading just to ready? More than just read, we need to read God's Word as to acquire or possess everything that God wants us to have! Claim His Word. Make it yours. Try "re-writing" the test in your own words to help. make it more "real" for you - but without changing the meaning. Use a Bible dictionary or Atlas. Learn about the culture and geography.

Read Telescopically - In other words, read the parts of the Bible as a part of the WHOLE Bible. Every verse is integrally related to the entire message that God is presenting to us. Breaking the Bible down into smaller fragments is okay, but just remember that there is a Greater context than just the small segment you are reading. Put it back together to form the Whole Word.

Dr. B's Personal Perspective

I mentioned that I have developed the practice of taking notes on my computer or smart device, which can all link together. This is in part so that when I search for a subject, thought, or verse, I can also find all the other times and places that I might have used or reflected upon that verse. Though it's quite often stunning to me (but shouldn't be), God can amazingly use something He said and I wrote down many years prior, to affect change in my heart or thinking today!