Thursday, February 16, 2017

Setting Time Aside Each Day For God's Word

One thing I do almost every day is to set a little time aside to read the Bible--usually the last thing I do in the evening before I turn out the light.  Fifteen minutes to a half an hour is average for me, although I'll admit sometimes it can run far longer--especially on the weekends.  Sometimes I read a chapter, or sometimes I just browse through it until I come across something that catches my attention.  I have a really good study Bible that I use, with lots of notes and good introductions into each chapter--it helps put what I'm reading into perspective.  I enjoy that time a great deal--it's my quiet time.

I think a lot of people are intimidated by the Bible.  They believe they have to read it like a novel from beginning to end.  Some people do, but I don't.  It's 66 separate books, and that's how I view it.  It's not that intimidating--it's a big volume with a lot of small pieces.  In fact, you could read the entire New Testament in about 12 hours--it's actually shorter than most modern novels.  Many of the 27 books in the New Testament you can read in less than thirty minutes.  There are only four long books in the New Testament--books that would take you more than an hour.  Those are Mathew, Luke, John and Acts.  Actually, five of those books are super short-- you can read in less than five minutes!

Here's about how long it would take to read each chapter (I found this list on a Church of Christ website). 

Matthew 1 hr. 30 min.
Ephesians 15 min.
Hebrews 30 min.
Mark 50 min.
Philippians 10 min.
James 10 min.
Luke 1 hr. 30 min.
Colossians 10 min.
1 Peter 10 min.
John 1 hr. 10 min.
1 Thessalonians 10 min.
2 Peter 10 min.
Acts 1 hour 30 min.
2 Thessalonians 5 min.
1 John 10 min.
Romans 30 min.
1 Timothy 10 min.
2 John 2 min.
1 Corinthians 30 min.
2 Timothy 10 min.
3 John 2 min.
2 Corinthians 30 min.
Titus 4 min. Jude 3 min.
Galatians 15 min.
Philemon 2 min.
Revelation 50 min.

Even after thirty-some years of being a Christian, I don't consider myself an expert.  I still find new truths in the text almost every night I read, but I've never been one that could cite chapter and verse.  At this point, I read through those verses a lot slower than I used to--I really take my time and try and understand each scripture completely.  I read all the notes and citations.  I read side articles if available and look at any applicable maps that may be in my study guide.  I also enjoy looking up the related and parallel passages--that's the trick to really understanding the Bible is getting a good study Bible.  Study Bibles aren't cheap, but they are worth the money--get a good one and you'll only ever need to buy one.  I use the Life Application Study Bible.  I've had a few study Bibles over the years, and the Life Application Study Bible is the one I've gotten the most out of.  You'll find it in any translation you may want--King James, NIV, etc.  But there are several out there.  Go to the bookstore and have a look at them, and find the one you like the best. 

One thing I have learned from the Holy Bible is that it contains everything you need to know about life--everything that matters anyway.  How we should live.  How we should interact with each other.  How we should conduct ourselves.  What is right and what is wrong and what we should value most.  There is no better rule and guide for how to live your life.

So don't let the size of the book intimidate you--once you become familiar with it, you'll understand it's actually organized in easily digestible pieces, and it's written to be understood.  And the more you read it, the more you'll gain from it. But remember-- a Bible is useless on your shelf. 

And one more piece of advice--if you're over forty, spring for the Large Text.  Believe me, you'll be glad you did.

~Todd E. Creason

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