Bible Reading – Ten Rules of Thumb
Rule of thumb #1 for Bible reading: Keep it simple, and stay on the easy side of the text.
Most people set their goals too high.
By easy side of the text, I mean what you can understand and take to heart. If something is difficult or perplexing, see Rule of Thumb #2.
Here’s a question: Can you faithfully set aside five minutes a day to read?
Just five minutes - don’t go beyond five minutes, even if you have the time. Exceeding the limit one day subtly sets the bar higher for the next day, and Satan uses high bars to discourage us.
Rule of thumb #2: don’t stumble over a difficult passage, leap over it and keep on reading.
Rule of thumb #3: don’t read to understand, read to get acquainted. Sort of like your spouse or best friend. Ha! We never come to a complete understanding of our spouse, or even ourselves, but the name of the game is to spend time with the one we love. Sooner or later, there’s a hint of understanding.
Rule of thumb #4: let God take His time with you. Sometimes “greed” gets in our way – by greed, I mean the desire to know and understand RIGHT NOW! God reveals to us, but all in God’s own time. Some things will have to wait until eternity. Refer to Rule of thumb #1 and 2. Stay on the easy side of the text and celebrate those things that bless the heart.
Rule of thumb #5: if something in the Bible frightens you, you’re misreading it. Put it down, and repeat the first verse of Psalm 23.
Rule of thumb #6: use a pen. Underline things that seem important. Some code their reading: a heart for things that bless; a star for things that seem important; a question mark for those things that seem odd or make no sense.
Rule of thumb #7: flip open your Bible anywhere rather that tackling a single book.
Rule of thumb #8: begin and end with the “Jesus my LORD” prayer.
Rule of thumb #9: when five minutes are up, close the Bible! That’s part of the discipline, too. Not only picking up the Bible, but knowing when to put it down for another day.
Rule of thumb #10: God makes clear to you your “daily bread” – just enough for the needs of the day. No more, no less. God be praised.
As for a translation, The New Revised Standard is a very good, but if you want to have “fun," try Eugene Peterson’s “The Message”.
By taking just five minutes a day, it all adds up. At the end of the week, 35 minutes (although you may want to give yourself a day off on Sunday) – so, 30 minutes a week; four weeks, two hours. 11 months – 22 hours – some moths have five weeks – oh well - (I’m taking December off of this schedule). Think of it, 22 hours a year – that’s good time.
Like dieting, it’s not a crash course that works, but a steady program over the long haul.
Set your goal small, keep it there, and let it add up.