I've gotten several questions recently about what book I read during my quiet time in the morning. The Bible. And that's not a flippant answer, I promise - but last year God rocked my world when I put every other (good) book down and decided to just dig in and see what I hear from Him.
It wasn't easy at first. I started in Exodus - I think I didn't start in Genesis because I had previously read all of Genesis in an attempt to "read the Bible in a year". But either way, at first I thought, "I have no idea what I'm doing. There is no way I am smart enough to glean something profound from the stories of the ten commandments and the plagues."
But, boy was I wrong - and I encourage you to be wrong too, y'all!
I know you're sitting there thinking, "Well, I don't even know how to start!" And that is totally where I was - but can I just come alongside you with an awesome hot cup of coffee and tell you to just start. The more you read, the easier it will become to understand what's going on. You'll get context and understand where they're coming from in scripture! Here are my three suggestions for digging into the Word solo.
1. Get a GREAT study bible.
Yes, the real big ones. The heavy ones with all the notes at the bottom, a giant concordance in the back and lots of cross referencing. Before you start a new book, read the introduction - it will give you a brief summary of the book so you'll know what you're in for. It will also give you historical context and most likely, the major characters in the book.
I have the MacArthur Study Bible and I LOVE it. I have the New American Standard version - which I also love. I mark it up, I highlight, I make notes and stick stickies. Don't be afraid to "ruin" your bible. It becomes a journal of sorts and is such a special keepsake to look back on weeks, months and years later.
2. Don't be on a timeline.
One of the biggest mistakes I made a few years back when I went to read the bible in a year was just doing it to cross it off my list. To check the box for the daily reading - and then when I would get behind, I'd get super frustrated and just give up too quickly. Don't be on a timeline! Start reading, and when you don't understand something just stay there until you do! Dig around - cross reference, read the commentary at the bottom! This is what made the biggest impact on me.
I kept having to tell myself, it is not a race.
What good is reading the Bible if I can't tell you an hour later at least ONE nugget about what I read that morning? I'll tell you what good it is - it's NOT good! Of course, God uses any and all time - but we glean so much more out of it when we allow time for the scripture to soak into our soul, amen?!
3. Pray, Read, Reflect.
I remember growing up and hearing all of the questions you're supposed to ask when you read a passage of scripture. But for me, that just bogged me down with so much information. So I boiled it down to something super simple for me. I pray as I open my Bible that the Lord would speak to me wherever I am at that day. I read it. And then I try to pull out ONE thing that is a moment where I think "hmmm.... maybe God has something for me in that?"
For example, last week I was reading at the end of 2 Samuel about David taking a census without God's permission. He was trying to determine if they could or should go to war and how many men he had and so on. But then he was disciplined by God because he was counting men instead of counting on God. God can use one man the same as He can use an army of 1,000 men. Oh, how often I put my limits on the Lord's protection, strength and ability to provide! He doesn't need me to intervene or meddle. When he wants something done, He will get it done!
I have come to LOVE these little nuggets that God pulls out, seemingly just for me! You can have that too! I am convinced that He is just waiting to have these special, intimate moments with us one on one. After all, the Bible is the living and breathing Word of the Lord.
There are also so many great resources to help you study! She Reads Truth is awesome at aiding you instead of teaching you. Also, www.studylight.org is GREAT to dig into some commentaries if you aren't in the market for a new bible!!
As always, PLEASE ask questions and I would love to help out in any way I can! I am no bible scholar, by any means, but I do feel incredibly passionate about women getting into the Bible for themselves every day!