Gary Derbyshire

6 Tips to Reading the Bible on Your Own (Part 1)

Gary Derbyshire
September 19, 2017

Psalm 1:2 says of a blessed man that, "his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” The blessed man is one who meditates on scripture. He doesn’t just know it; he dwells on it, pores over it. Moses, upon leading the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, said of the words God gave them in the law: “You shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:7-9).” So how does one do this? The following are six out of 12 tips I have found helpful as a minister and disciple of Christ:

1. Read knowing you are reading the fully inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. If you begin reading the Bible looking for errors and contradictions you already believe to be there, you will think your way out of submission to God. If you approach scripture with fear, trembling, and reverence, the timeless way all 66 books of the Bible fit so perfectly and cohesively together will put you in constant awe of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

2. Read patiently, knowing that not all of your questions and issues will be answered or confronted in one moment. We all have pressing issues and real life problems we want God to speak to, but that doesn’t mean God’s Word is obligated to answer them in every 15 minute window you give it (Hint: it might need to be longer). God’s Word speaks with his agenda and timing, which isn’t always our agenda or timing.

3. Read whole books of the Bible at a time. We have all done it. We close our eyes, open the Bible, and see which page we randomly flip to. The problem with that is the vast majority of the Bible was not meant to be read this way. Each individual book has human authors who, inspired by the Holy Spirit, had themes, responses to specific circumstances, writing style, and genre which are vital to sound interpretation. Relying on things like a verse or thought for the day from an app or blog will not, by itself, create biblical literacy.

4. Read looking for sections or verses to commit to memory. This is such a neglected discipline in American Christianity. We are quick to make our kids do it at church, but for us adults it is suddenly acceptable to “not be good at memorizing.” To meditate on scripture, you have to know scripture. If you would like to know how to memorize scripture in tandem with a reading plan, feel free to follow my reading plan at the top of the Messages tab in the menu.

5. Read with a printed Bible. Yes, they still make books out of paper. There are so many incredible electronic sources for the Bible that make God’s Word very accessible, but paper Bibles don’t notify you Judy just tagged you in a cat video, run out of battery, crash, or have other distractions. There is something about a used and worn out Bible, which leads me to my next point.

6. Read and take notes in a journal or in the book itself. They are now publishing Journal Bibles with extra space in the margins to take your own notes. I find mine very useful to not just keep track of my thoughts, but also to take notes on sermons from my pastor or other preachers. If you don’t like the idea of writing in your Bible, get a small journal to record your own notes. Doing so can force you to get serious about the text.

2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” It is true, the Word of God will not return void (Isaiah 55:11), but that does not give us the right to handle it poorly.

Gary Derbyshire

Gary is the Senior Pastor of Apollo Baptist Church in Glendale, Arizona. Gary's biggest life influence is his loving parents, who originally taught him the Gospel and biblical exposition, and still live as missionaries in Asia. The next biggest influence is his loving wife, a gifted worship leader and evangelist to their children.

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Gary Derbyshire