Another great question that I received from the “Questions” sermon a few weeks ago: “I would like to venture deeper into scripture and the Bible. But it all seems overwhelming. Where does a novice start? Thank you for accepting the call to Trinity.”
Well first, thanks for that nice comment! I’m very glad to be here.
You’re exactly right. Sometimes, looking at the scriptures can seem pretty overwhelming. It’s a big book…it’s really little print…the language can seem kind of foreign to us sometimes…and sometimes the meaning behind the stories can seem kind of mysterious.
But we do believe that the scriptures are God’s Word, and it’s critical that we keep reading, to understand God’s wisdom. There are some things that can help. Here are some thoughts, in no particular order:
- I have many different “versions” of scripture on the shelf behind my desk. And I believe they all serve a different purpose. When I want to dig in and study, in preparation for a sermon, I read the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). When I am reading while prepping to teach, or for a public reading, I often use the New International Version (NIV). When I just want to sit back and read, for personal reading or devotional reading, I will often read from “The Message” version, which is a paraphrase. Basically, it’s the Bible turned into a novelized format. It’s very engaging. Finding a version that meets your needs is critical. (You’re always welcome to stop by and look at some of mine, if you’re interested.)
- Realize that the Bible isn’t really a book, but is a collection of smaller books and letters. While it certainly can be read from front to back, it’s not really necessary to do that. Break it down into smaller chunks. Begin with a Gospel. I’d suggest Luke. Then maybe go to one of Paul’s letters. Romans is a good one to begin with. As you get into it and begin to discover the meanings, it will draw you in and it will become easier to read.
- Small chunks are good. For a long time, my devotional routine has included reading one chapter a day of a book. That’s it. It’s manageable, and achievable. There are also a bunch of Bible reading “plans” that will help you. Including some for “go through the Bible in a year” and things like that. There’s an app I use on my phone I really like called “You Bible.” It’s free and has lots of great tools.
- There are also some great books that will help you understand the Bible and how to read it. One of my favorites is a short little one called “A Beginner’s Guide to the Bible” by Craig Koester, who was one of my teachers at Luther Seminary.
- Lastly, if you’re really an overachiever, there are some lay school courses available through Luther Seminary, many of which deal with Biblical writings. Some of these courses now are offered online as well. You can find more information about this here.
The scriptures direct and guide us. They teach and they reveal Christ. They are critical for life and faith. Thank you for wanting to dig deeper into them. If we can be of any help, please just ask.
God’s blessings on you as the Word comes alive!