The next step in your journey as a “Babe in Christ” is to begin a habit of being in your Bible daily! I am sure you are asking questions like; how do I start? Where do I start? How can I get the most out of the time I spend reading? How much should I read at a time? All great questions and hopefully by the end of this you will feel a little more confident as to how to spend your study time.
First, determine how many times a day can be set aside for study? I understand in today’s world time is a commodity which many people feel they don’t have enough of. I will tell you a secret; we all have the same twenty four hours in a day. It is the utilization of this commodity that makes the difference in anyone’s life.
When I first decided to start a daily reading, I made a determined decision that I would spend 15 minutes each morning and 15 minutes each evening in study. That seemed doable to me, just a small chunk of time twice a day. Starting out was pretty easy, but I found that the morning was much easier than the evening. It seemed that something always came up in the evening or my schedule was inconsistent.
If I finished my day at 9pm I could spend some time in study, but if my day ran long and it was 11pm or midnight, I was too tired to take even 15 minutes to read. So my original thought of twice a day was not really feasible to work on a consistent basis. Yet the mornings were working out fairly well and I even found that 15 minutes was too short in most cases.
So as a beginner, I would recommend that you set aside 30-60 minutes each morning before you start your day. (If your schedule is a little more consistent and you can still do twice a day, great! The more the better and you will quickly understand that as you read more) Set your alarm clock an hour earlier, or just carve out some time in your morning routine to have time for just you and God. Spending this time with Him will get your mind focused properly and you will find your day to run much smoother-or at least you will be able to handle the tougher days with more ease than you have in the past.
So 7am to 7:30am every morning is going to be spent in your Bible. Get to your quiet place at a desk, table, somewhere you are comfortable but not so comfortable to go back to sleep. Have with you the Bible (or two like I do), Maybe a Bible app like E-sword, a good concordance like Strong’s, maybe a Bible Commentary (I use Tony Evan’s Bible Commentary) and a notebook for notes and questions.
When I do my Bible study, I sit at my desk in the home office so everything is already there. All I need to do is fire up the computer, which has the app’s preloaded and I also use Word for my notepad. This computer also allows me quick access to Google or many other commentaries of teachers/preachers I trust. BUT if you are only allotting yourself 30 minutes in your study you will not have time for much research.
Ok, so you have your space and your materials needed, spend your first few seconds in prayer. “God, Thank you for your Grace, please open my mind, eyes and ears to what you want me to learn today. I am here with your Word to learn and to grow in my relationship to you. Use this time Lord to teach me of Your Will for my life. In Jesus name, Amen” It can be any quick simple Prayer, but it is setting your mind on Him and His Word.
Next is the big question, ”where do I start?” With most books you begin at the beginning and work your way through the entire book, but the Bible is different from any other book ever written, which you are about to find out ove the next few months.
As a new believer, depending on who you are talking to, starting suggestions may vary. Some like to start in Luke, or John, Others like Romans and the Romans Road. Others may say just start with the four Gospels. None of these are wrong, because there are two key habits that we are trying to engrain: Daily reading of your Bible and gaining a closer relationship with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. I am one that likes to start new believers in John. I believe that John lays out the importance of your relationship with Christ and the many benefits of being a Christian.
OK, now you have your time and materials, your quiet space, and a starting point; how much should you read every day? The answer to this will not be so straight forward. Read until you understand all that you read, or until you read something that you don’t understand. This is where you will spend your time, gaining a true understanding of the sentences you just read and the context in which they are meant. Some days you may read just 2 or 3 sentences, others it may be a complete chapter.
As you read, in your notebook jot down what you read and what it means as you read. Lets take for example
John 1:1-2 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. “
You don’t need to write the verse out in your notebook, just the verse or verses notation, Along with your notes on the verse.
John 1:1-2 John went all the way back to Gen 1:1 by reclaiming,” In the Beginning” this is letting the reader understand that the “Word” was in the beginning with God, but also that the Word WAS God. As Christians, we understand that Jesus Christ was the living Word, so this verse is making us aware that Jesus (the Word) was in the beginning, was with God, and at the same time was God. Two of the three parts of the Trinity are mentioned in this one verse and are noted as being, “In the beginning” (Holy Spirit being the third part: Gen 1:2, Matt 28:19, 1 Cor 8:6 This is where your concordance comes in so you can find a cross reference verse to corroborate the current verse) How powerful and amazing how much we learn from just the first verses of the read!
John1:3 Remember basic reading? In verse 3 it states that all things were created through him. So who is “him”? The Subject of the passage is the “Word” and the Word is Jesus, right? So everything in the world was created through him for without him nothing could be made. (Col 1:16, Heb 1:2) WOW!
John 1:4-5 Jesus is the giver of Life! Remember in Gen 2:7 “…and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” And in this life He gave light(1:4), because darkness exists. (1:5) Because Satan came in and brought the darkness, allowing man to fall into sin and to block the light of God shining through man. When man freely chooses Christ, that light again shines and Satan cannot extinguish it because it is the Light of God breathed into man in the beginning!
Amazing how much information we can learn in just 5 short verses, but if you were checking the additional corroborating text and taking notes, then 20-30 minutes went by pretty quick. But I am still amazed, even though I have read this text many, many, many times how much information is gleaned from just a few sentences. The authors HAD TO BE INSPIRED BY GOD to write exactly as He said to get this amount of information to the reader as quickly as possible!
For today I want you to finish John 1:6-10 with the introduction of John the Baptist. See what kind of notes and questions you may have; feel free to post them in the comments, I would be happy to help with any questions you may encounter.
Each day read and study at least 30 minutes continuing in John until completed. As you read and study more, you will find that you are able to read and study a little more each day. Once you become acclimated to studying, you will also find that 60 minutes goes by very quickly and you will “Hunger for the Word” meaning you are growing in your relationship and want to learn as much as you can about the Savior Jesus Christ.
When you have finished the Study in John, congratulations! You can then move forward to the rest of the Gospels and the book of Romans. By the time you finish those, I have no doubt you will have a good system to the way you want to finish your study through the rest of the Bible. I am always here for questions or further explanation. Comment or email and I will respond every time as soon as I possibly can.