WELCOME TO PART II OF BIBLE READING 101! (link to part I)
I wiped away the tiny beads of sweat from my forehead with the back of my hand. But soon my teeth began to chatter. I pulled a blanket over my shoulders. A few minutes later, I was tossing the blanket off. It had been a month since my diagnosis of strep throat. Of course, when the strep screen came back positive, I was given a heavy dose of antibiotics with specific instructions.
The antibiotics were like a miracle. Within a few days, I was feeling good enough to begin my regular activities as a busy mom of three young kids. The problem was, as I got back into my routine, I lost track of taking my antibiotics. So, I just stopped taking them altogether. And now here I was, back in bed feeling worse than I had a month ago.
When given an antibiotic, the only way to see healing from the infection is from consistent consumption as directed. It’s the same with reading our Bibles. We must be just as diligent. But unfortunately for most Christians, this isn’t happening. In fact, most are biblically anemic. In subsequent articles on the subject, we established that one of the reasons for this anemia is Christians simply don’t know how to effectively read their Bibles.
A recent poll by Ponce Foundation shows, with over 2 billion Christians in the world, only 30 percent will read through the entire Bible. And 82 percent of American Christians only read their Bibles on the Sundays when they attend church.
How often do you read your Bible? Be honest.
Are you like many other Christians who have tried to read the Bible, but it was just too difficult to understand or didn’t seem relevant? I was once there too!
When I began reading to my kids in their children’s Bible, things began to make more sense. Here’s why:
It was written in language that was easy to understand
It summarized the major stories
It had pictures and maps!
So, I decided to apply some of those techniques to tailor my own Bible reading plan. I quickly discovered the Bible is NOT in chronological order. I knew it would help my understanding if I could read things in the order they happened, but we’ll get to that shortly. What I found was what I actually needed was to get “acquainted” with the Bible before diving in head first. Here’s one way I got started studying the Bible and you can do it too!
TWO STEP PLAN TO GET ACQUAINTED WITH THE BIBLE
STEP ONE: MAPS AND TIMELINES
MAPS: Before reading an actual story, get your bearings by taking a gander at the maps that most Bibles offer in the back. The maps are usually of the past and present times. In my last article, I included a few links to maps. Here they are again.
From Google Maps: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?oe=UTF8&msa=0&ie=UTF8&mid=1uR5a0eI379UMHAtfhCjiJcJIlYQ
TIMELINES: The Life Application Bible has a chronology of Bible events and world events. What this means is on the top of the timeline it will show things as they happened in the Bible. On the bottom, it records what is happening in history at or about in the same time period. For example, Mary the mother of Jesus was born about 25 B.C. Around the same time, Cleopatra and her lover, Marc Antony, both die by suicide.
I found the timeline to be very important in my understanding.
Printable PDF A Chronology of Biblical Events and World Events found on the internet:
STEP TWO: GET AN OVERVIEW FIRST
I happened upon a few books by R. C. Sproul which helped me tremendously. I learned that starting with an overview of the major happenings (sort of like the children’s Bible) was a good place to begin. Below I have outlined what I got from his teachings through the Ligonier Ministries website which you can look at later (http://www.ligonier.org/blog/).
BEFORE YOU START:
Make a commitment to reading for fifteen minutes every day (same time and, same quiet place is best) from the plan below.
Set up accountability. You don’t have to read together. Just hold each other accountable to the daily reading plan.
Here’s the plan:
The Old Testament Overview:
- Genesis (the history of Creation, the fall, and God’s covenantal dealings with the patriarchs)
- Exodus (the history of Israel’s liberation and formation as a nation)
- Joshua (the history of the military conquest of the Promised Land)
- Judges (Israel’s transition from a tribal federation to a monarchy)
- 1 Samuel (Israel’s emerging monarchy under Saul and David)
- 2 Samuel (David’s reign)
- 1 Kings (Solomon and the divided kingdom)
- 2 Kings (the fall of Israel)
- Ezra (the Israelites’ return from exile)
- Nehemiah(the restoration of Jerusalem)
- Amos and Hosea(examples of minor prophets)
- Jeremiah(an example of a major prophet)
- Ecclesiastes(Wisdom Literature)
- Psalms and Proverbs (Hebrew poetry)
The New Testament Overview:
- The Gospel of Luke(the life of Jesus)
- Acts(the early church)
- Ephesians(an introduction to the teaching of Paul)
1 Corinthians(life in the church)
- 1 Peter(an introduction to Peter)
- 1 Timothy(an introduction to the Pastoral Epistles)
- Romans(Paul’s theology)
Let me know in the comments below if this has been helpful.
This plan is only one way to begin getting acquainted with the Bible. I suggest that you copy, paste and print it out for yourself. Remember, it’s an overview of the Bible. Join me next time for another article with a few more suggestions to make Bible reading easier. Until then, blessings!
I really like the idea of having a timeline when reading the Bible, Beckie, and your suggestion of exposing ourselves to the geography of the terrain is important, too. Really orients us in time and place.
Martha, I’m glad you found the suggestions helpful. My prayer is for others to realize how amazing God’s word is! Thanks for commenting.
This post definitely pairs well with part one. Love your creativity in the opening. It allow for seamless entry into the understanding and importance for “Taking your daily dose” properly.
It’s been proven, “If you don’t use it, you will lose it.” Another informative, inspirational and encouraging read. Thanks, Beckie. You nailed it!
Love the idea of getting acquainted with the Bible rather than diving right in.
April, So glad this resonates with you. I hope this inspires others to find a Bible reading plan that works for them. Thanks for reading.
Great resources. Timelines and maps can be really helpful in figuring out when and where things happened and how different event relate to each other.
Leigh, I’m glad you found this helpful. Thanks for commenting. Blessings!
Becke, These are all great tools. I use them. I must read the bible every day or others around me will suffer. The Word is my food to prevent anxiety, worry, and despair. The Word fuels me and prepares me for the day. Thank you for the reminder to keep studying.
Cherrilynn, I fully agree with you about the Word. Thanks for taking the time to encourage with your comment. Blessings!
I like your idea of the overview of the bible. A couple of years ago I read through the whole bible in a year, I’m pleased I did I, bit to be honest I was just scanning a lot to get through my chapters for the day.
Ally, I’m glad you like the idea. My desire is to not just “read” the Bible for the sake of saying you read it. I’m hoping that people will gain understanding and a love for the scriptures. Thanks for commenting.
Beckie, Thank you so much for encouraging others to read God’s amazing Word. I’ve been reading the Bible from cover-to-cover for several years now. I encourage (from time to time) the readers of my blog to be in the Word.
I loved your analogy of not taking antibiotics with not reading the Bible. Great suggestions, too!