by Keith Ferrin, Guest Writer
The new year is upon us. For most people, that means New Year’s Resolutions. And for most Christians, one of the resolutions includes some form of the phrase “read the Bible more consistently.”
But how do we do it? How do we stick with it? How do we find a way to truly connect with God through His Word on a regular basis?
Helping people answer these questions has been my passion – and the centerpiece of my writing and speaking ministry – for the last 22 years.
In all transparency, I am passionate about it because I haven’t always loved the Bible. There…I said it.
I always felt like I “should” read it more consistently. I “should” know it better after being in the church my whole life. I “should” talk about it more. I “should” memorize more verses. The “shoulds” kept piling up…for almost 25 years!
Then, beginning in the spring of 1993, the “should” changed to “want.” It was amazing!
I started looking at the Bible differently. I started reading it differently. I started enjoying it more. I started studying it in a way that I remembered it days and weeks later. My time in the Word began to have a greater impact on my everyday life.
In short, I made two shifts in my Bible reading.
Shift One: My Mindset
Pause and ask yourself this question: Why do I read the Bible?
What was your answer? I have asked this question hundreds of times to thousands of people. A majority of the time, the answer comes down to something like this…
“I read the Bible to know what God wants me to know, so I can do what God wants me to do, and live a life that glorifies Him.”
Sounds good, right? After all, knowing, doing, living, and glorifying are good things!
While all four of these are fantastic, I no longer believe they are the primary reason for being in God’s Word. Here is what God revealed to me over the course of 12-18 months starting in the spring of 1993…
“The primary purpose for reading the Bible is to hang out with Jesus. The Bible is the only book that’s ever been written for the purpose of helping you fall in love with the Author.”
Put even more simply: Read the Bible relationally, not informationally.
The best part is that the more relational our approach – and the more we fall in love with Jesus – the more He will teach us, encourage us, shape us, challenge us, and mold us into people who live lives that glorify Him.
We are not setting aside knowing, doing, living, and glorifying. We still accomplish all of those things as an outflowing of the beautiful relationship God has desired all along!
Shift Two: My Method
My approach to HOW I study the Bible (and the flaws I see with many of the Bible study methods I have tried in the past) can best be explained by thinking about movies. (Yup…movies.)
I love movies. Funny. Moving. Intense. True stories. Twisty-Turny. I love all kinds of movies.
Now, imagine you and I sit down to watch a movie neither of us has ever seen. The opening credits fade into the first scene. We are both drawn into the characters, setting, and mood of the film. As Scene 1 transitions to Scene 2, I push the Pause button and say, “Let’s discuss that. What did you think?”
After an awkward conversation, I push Play and we watch Scene 2. Then I pause the movie again and want to discuss it. Then Scene 3…
What do you think? Would you enjoy that? Me neither!
And yet, don’t we frequently do that with the Bible? We read one verse, or maybe a chapter. Then we study it, think about what it means, and try to find the truth to apply. The next day, we do it again.
We study the scenes before we watch the movie!
Don’t get me wrong. Studying the “scenes” in the Bible is immensely valuable. However, if you truly want to enjoy the Bible watching the “movie” of an entire book is where we need to start.
If you and I watch a movie, and after the movie we discuss a scene, character, or plot twist, the watching AND the discussing will BOTH be enjoyable.
If you want to enjoy – and remember – what you read in the Bible, start with a relational mindset. Then pick up a book of the Bible and “watch the movie.” Read the book – in its entirety – every day for a couple weeks. Then go back and “study the scenes.”
You will be amazed at how much more you see. And how much more you enjoy what you read!
Keith Ferrin is the author of Falling in Love with God's Word. If you would like to hear more from Keith, register for his webinar, Jumpsart YOUR Time in God's Word on January 18, 2018!
Founder of That You May Know Ministries, Keith has been doing Scripture presentations since March 1996. He has served as a speaker for retreats, conferences, outreach events, and fundraisers. His practical, humorous, and thought-provoking style makes the Word come alive for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. From December of 1991 to August of 1997, Keith was a youth and worship pastor in Tacoma, Washington. Since then, That You May Know Ministries has been his primary vocation.