Reading Through the Bible

July 11, 2018 at 12:06 PM Leave a comment

People have asked me numerous times in the past about reading the Bible daily. I’ve heard many reasons why people do not read the Word on a daily basis, and in my past, I actually gave lip service to some of the same excuses. This is not meant to denigrate anyone because when we make comments about why we aren’t reading the Bible daily, it often stems from a desire to actually read the Bible, but we feel overwhelmed before we even begin.

Questions like “how much time will it take?” to “what’s the best way to do my daily devotions with Scripture?” to “I want to get the best from it but just don’t know where to start,” etc. These are all real questions and I’ve found that most people want to take the time to read God’s Word. Chiefly, the feeling of being overwhelmed is very common. After all, we are dealing with a book that has thousands of pages, roughly 40 human authors, and written over a period of 1600 to 2000 years. What makes the Bible most difficult is the fact that we are that far removed from much of it and therefore, find it very difficult to relate to the people, the times, and the circumstances involved.

This is also why many folks prefer a devotional book rather than the Bible because the authors choose specific passages from Scripture and briefly explain and/or apply it to our lives. The Bible does not necessarily apply itself to our lives in all cases. We have to dig a bit to determine what a particular passage means to us. This is best done by understanding the context and background of the times in which the Bible was actually written. If more folks did this, there would be far fewer heresies and aberrant doctrines out there today. However, let me state that this greater understanding will come the more we read His Word.

Reading passages of the Old Testament can be quite uplifting. At the same time, other portions, shrouded in mysterious prophetic terminology can be exceedingly frustrating for the average Christian. Some sections of Scripture make us pause and ask, “what were they thinking?!” because of something so horrendous. Yet, God put all of these things into His Word so that we would learn more about Him and how He works to bring His plans to fruition in spite of the fact that humanity has “free will” and often chooses to withstand God’s purposes. Reading the Bible helps us understand that above all things, God is sovereign. His purposes will always come to fruition. There is nothing that puny man can do to stop God’s plans. Not one thing.

I recall my days at Philadelphia College of Bible. My course of study was actually the Bible. I was not in the pastoral degree path. I was there to study the Bible and did eventually receive my Bachelor of Science in Bible. But recalling those days, I see that I actually spent very little time simply reading the Bible for my devotions. I was too busy reading the Bible for understanding, writing papers, and studying for tests to take the time out to spend a few moments with God daily. That was my excuse then.

It wasn’t until many years later – after I received my Masters and my Doctorate that I began to realize that while I had “head knowledge” of the Bible, I had not endeavored to learn about the Author of the Bible and my salvation! Being “busy” is likely what keeps most of us from creating the necessary habit of reading God’s Word on a daily basis.

In this short article, I’d simply like to provide an outline of why we are to read the Bible as devotions on a daily basis, and how to go about doing that. This article is not mean to be the answer regarding daily devotional Bible reading. It simply contains some suggestions for the average Christian who understands that they lack something but even beginning the process appears to be overwhelming to them.

First, pick a time when you can simply read through a small section of Scripture and be someplace where you won’t be interrupted. I read my Bible as devotions each day at roughly the same time. Some folks like to read it as the last thing prior to retiring for the evening. It’s completely up to you as there are no hard and fast rules. If you are not a morning person but must be up early to start your day, then for you, reading it at the end of the day is likely a better option.

When I first began reading through the Bible in a year, a few years ago, I’ll admit that not much seemed to sink into my brain. In fact, sadly, I found myself forcing my mind to focus on the words because it was rather easy to become sidetracked. This will likely happen to you as well, but if you persevere, you’ll develop a habit that you actually will not like breaking. You’ll find that this habit brings you to the same place every day with Bible in hand.

I have the Mantis Bible Software Program on my phone. The good thing is that with this program, I’ve downloaded numerous Bible versions as well as commentaries and other Bible helps. With just a few clicks, I can learn more about a passage I’m reading. The downside of having it on my phone is that sometimes, my phone itself can be distracting if I receive a phone call or text from someone. If your phone is just too much of a distraction, then you will probably want to grab a physical Bible to read from keeping your phone well away from you for the time you’re reading.

Using a “through the Bible” type of program is very beneficial because it will simply tell you which book and chapters you are to read for that day. It will also allow you to “check” off that day once you have completed your reading and you’re ready for the next day.

Regarding the translation of the Bible and which is “preferred.” That is totally up to you. For me personally, I like to use versions that are “word-for-word” translations as opposed to “thought-for-thought” or worse, “paragraph for paragraph.” If you choose a word-for-word translation, you’ll pick something like New American Standard, English Standard Version, New King James or something along those lines.

It is important to look at your Bible reading time each day as an opportunity to learn more about our God, Creator, and Savior. Don’t use this time to “study” the Bible. Use it to read it, to get the flow of how the Bible moves. If you come to a passage that confuses you, this is where good commentaries come in. You want to get either good, quality “devotional” commentaries or the more “academic” commentaries. The former will often apply passages to our lives for us, connecting them with the truth of the biblical text. The latter is written by scholars who delve often quite deeply into the original languages. This is good, but it might actually slow you down quite a bit. My suggestion for those starting out is to reach for the devotional commentaries written by people like Warren Wiersbe, J. Vernon McGee and even John MacArthur. I have a library full of academic commentaries as well as devotional ones. They both help when I’m actually involved in studying certain books of the Bible. Dr. Thomas Constable is another great author whose commentaries, while delving into the original languages, provides good insight and background on the Bible. Constable’s Notes are available for FREE online here:

As you read the Bible on a daily basis, you will find that eventually you will begin to recall certain passages. You will become more familiar with the Bible as a whole. Some folks prefer to read through the Bible chronologically and many Bible reading plans provide that option. I personally like to read the Bible from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22 in one year and then begin all over again on January 1 of the new year. I feel as though I’ve accomplished something and more of the Bible becomes part of me because of it.

However, the biggest thing to keep in mind as you read the Bible daily is that you are doing that to get to know the Author and how God works in and through humanity to bring His purposes to fruition. Yes, that can be a goal of simply studying the Bible as well, but all too often, people who try to read the Bible on a daily basis feel they need to come away with large parts of the Bible memorized and understood. No, when we read the Bible daily, we are entering the process of familiarizing ourselves with what the Book says to us. The more we understand what the Bible says to us, the greater our understanding of God and how He works in our own personal lives.

Whether people think so or not, developing a habit of reading the Bible everyday will result in learning more about God. For devotions, that is the goal. There’s another time in which a person will delve into studying aspects of God’s Word, most often by concentrating on one particular book, but this would be done in addition to our daily Bible reading devotional time.

It’s not as difficult as it sounds. All too often, we psyche ourselves out thinking it’s too insurmountable. In reality, it’s not. Simply start reading every day. Determine a time that will work for you every day, go to a quiet place in your home, and take the time to read through that portion of God’s Word earmarked for that day. Before you know it, you’ll have read His Word in a year and then you can start over. Eventually, you’ll be surprised how much you recall, how much you put together in your mind and how much you remember.

I find myself talking to God throughout the day about things I read from His Word that morning, things that tend not to make sense or impress me with clarity. You’ll be surprised at the blessing of making a daily time to read God’s Word that comes to the fore.

Oh, and one other thing which is very important. It is not uncommon for people to start out well, then get sidetracked. They might find themselves missing a day, then another day. They begin to feel that they will never catch up so they stop altogether. Instead of doing that, if you do become sidetracked and miss a day or two, then start from the day you do get back to it. If you have time, you can always go back and pick up the chapters you missed, but if not, you’re still on track to have read most of the Bible by year’s end. Don’t allow discouragement to keep you from it.

Who knows, but maybe you’ll get to a point where you want to read through the Bible in 90 days! I’m not there yet 🙂

A Sampling of Reference Material:

Bible Reading Plans

  • Bible Gateway:
  • Bible Study Tools:
  • Heartlight:
  • Bible Plans:

Bible Versions

Free Online Commentaries

  • Dr. Thomas Constable’s Notes:
  • Bible Study Tools:
  • Bible Gateway:
  • Bible Hub:
  • Christianity dot com:

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