1. Keep it personal. Religious beliefs and
convictions are very personal matters. Ask three people for their
interpretation of a scriptural passage and you will get three
different responses. That explains why there are so many
denominations within the present day church. No one can tell you
what you should believe, and you are solely responsible for your
own actions, responses, and behaviors. Choose a Bible translation
that suits you. If you find the King James Version too difficult
to retain your focus, check into other translations that are
available. The Bible should not be a "chore" to read.
2. Read regularly. You can't expect to
master rocket science by picking up a book
"occasionally." Read the Bible regularly and it will
come alive for you and your understanding will increase
dramatically. Try to choose a time and place that you go each day.
Soon this routine will be a highlight of your day and you will
look forward to the rejuvenation that comes with the time spent in
3. Prepare. You should prayerfully ask God
for guidance and insight into what you are reading, and listen to
your inner voice for direction. Have faith that your prayers and
questions will be answered. Some find it helpful to listen to
inspirational music before reading in order to focus their
attention on spiritual matters. Choose a quiet place free from
distractions and try to clear your mind of pressing issues that
may cloud your thinking. Deep breathing and relaxation techniques
are beneficial exercises that will help you to focus more clearly
on your reading.
4. Take what you read literally. God is not
the author of confusion. This is the owner's manual for life on
earth. He would not give you a roadmap that you could not
understand. After slowly reading (and re-reading) your selected
passage, ask yourself these questions: What is the main subject of
this reading? Who is speaking? What is being said? To Whom? What
is the key verse? Does this passage contain a command for me to
obey? Does this passage reveal anything I see as a stumbling block
in my own life?
Does this passage relate to you or your
situation? Is there something in the passage that needs to be
incorporated into your own life? Answer these questions as
truthfully as possible and see what direction this takes you.
5. Use resources. Many translations will
contain references to other correlating scriptures in order to
clarify or reiterate the main point. Some will have scriptural
notes explaining the circumstances in greater detail. Many contain
dictionaries, maps, weights and measures conversions etc. A
concordance is an invaluable searching tool that will list the
passages which contain any word or phrase that you may wish.
Commentaries are great resources that go into detailed
explanations concerning each passage. These will assist you in
better understanding the cultural and spiritual aspects of the
scripture, but keep in mind that it is one man's opinion. The best
online resource that I have come across is called E-sword. It is a
downloadable Bible that can be customized with different
translations, concordances, dictionaries, and commentaries.
Translations can be viewed side-by-side for comparison and notes
can be saved within the file. Although this is a free resource,
some translations charge a small fee. (see resource box for info)
Online Christian forums and chat rooms have ongoing discussions
about many of life's questions. You may get some helpful insights,
as well as different viewpoints about any number of topics.
After using these 5 tips, you should have a
better understanding of the Bible, and a better relationship with
God, not to mention the people around you. You will begin to gain
the wisdom of the ages, and who knows, you might just find more
than you were looking for.