You Can Read the Bible: Three Approaches

South Sudan Bible Reading by Steve Evans via Wikimedia Commons

South Sudan Bible Reading by Steve Evans via Wikimedia Commons

I. You Can Read the Bible by Steve Harper
One of the biggest mistakes we have made with the Bible is leaving the impression that only scholars can correctly interpret it. Everything is made so layered, nuanced, and complex that many folks instantly feel they lack the “training” and “horsepower” to make it through all the mazes.

So, they either stop trying or they become passive and wait for the “experts” to tell them what’s “right.” But the fact is, the Bible is intended to be understandable! The original languages do contain levels of insight, but their essential meanings are accessible to us all.

Here is a way to make it so in your personal reading and in your conversations with others. Take a passage, read it, and ask:
(1) What is the big idea?
(2) Why is it important?
(3) Where does it presently connect with my life–or–why is it not a part of me?
(4) Should it be part of me? If so, how can I continue (or begin) to put it into practice?

Most Bible passages will “bear fruit” when these questions are applied to them, either in private or in a group. And when you add to your own inductive study the additional resources of concordances, dictionaries, maps, and commentaries, you will find the messages of scripture influencing your life day after day.

II. SOAP
The SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal is practiced by thousands of Christians. I first learned of it from Wayne Cordeiro, pastor New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, click here for the video on their website.

Here’s a brief summary of the process.
S = Scripture
Read the Bible passage for the day. Copy the verse which catches your attention word for word in your journal.

O = Observation
Write a brief description of what is going on in the passage you read.

A = Application
Write about how your life will be different today because of what you have read.
• Lessons to be learned
• Examples to be followed or avoided
• Promises to be claimed and enjoyed
• A character trait of God revealed

P = Prayer
Write out a prayer for yourself and others based on what you read today.

III. Lectio Divina explained by Whitney R. Simpson in his book Holy Listening with Breath, Body, and the Spirit
The words Lectio Divina are Latin for “holy reading.”

This ancient prayer practice includes the following steps:
lectio (“to read”)
meditatio (“to reflect”)
oratio (“to respond”)
and contemplatio (“to rest”).

Lectio Divina allows you to listen for God’s activity using scripture and to connect to God through the ancient Word while delving into a particular passage.

The practice of Lectio Divina focuses on formational reading of scripture, as opposed to informational reading. Formational reading invites the text to shape you, while informational reading invites you to understand the text. Though both types of reading can be useful on a spiritual journey, the art of Lectio Divina allows you to interact with God’s Word through meditating on a passage and listening for God’s leading.

My personal journey has been shaped by spending time in the Word using Lectio Divina. Through this practice, I have realized how scripture can speak to my life regardless of what I am facing. Lectio Divina has allowed me to see and hear God in new ways.

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So, let’s get reading. Here are three simple reading plans to get you started. Each will take you through the New Testament in one year. It’s especially helpful to start with the New Testament if you are new to Bible reading.

1. New Testament Reading Plan- Bible order
This plan will take you through the New Testament in the order in which it is printed in the Bible. Easy. Just read straight through.

2. New Testament Reading Plan- event order
This plan will take you through the New Testament in the order in which the events most likely happened. You’ll jump from chapter to chapter in different books in this plan. Is it scholarly perfect, no, but it is helpful for those of us who want a chronological approach to Jesus’ life and the lives of the first believers. (We aren’t getting caught in the perfectionism trap. If this sounds interesting, go for it.)

3. New Testament Reading Plan- mixed
This plan spreads the Gospel readings throughout the year with the other books mixed in between. Even though you skip around the New Testament in this plan, you will read a book at a time.

Click Here for more information on today’s featured image, South Sudan Bible Reading by Steve Evans

Advent and Christmas Bible Reading Plans

Live Hope, Give Hope: A Plan to Share the Goodness of Jesus at Christmas
Readings from Isaiah, Matthew, Luke, John, and Psalms
Also includes a sentence prayer and action prompts to Help, Offer, Pray, or Encourage
December 1-31, 6 days per week

Comfort and Joy: A Simple Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Readings from Matthew, Luke and Johnbible luke 2
Some of the readings are even repeated so you can go slow and go deep. Also includes a sentence prayer for each reading.
December 1-31, 5 days per week

Jesus, the Coming Messiah- Advent Bible Readings from Old Testament to New
Old and New Testament Readings
December 1-25, everyday
This reading plan highlights the Old Testament names and prophesies concerning the Messiah which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.

The Advent Door Reading Plan
Based on Jan Richardson’s book Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas . Her book is structured in the style of a classic Advent calendar, with 25 scripture reflections, each with an original piece of art. This is a true Advent reading plan, with the first 18 readings focusing on the repentance and the 2nd coming of Christ.

Countdown to Christmas
Old and New Testament Readings
December 1-25, everyday

Jesus, the Coming Messiah- Advent Bible Readings from Old Testament to New

Jesus, The Coming Messiah
Thank you for setting aside times this Holy Season to seek the One we celebrate.

Jesus, The Coming Messiah is an Advent Bible reading plan highlighting the Old Testament prophesies and passages which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.

As you read each passage, consider how this description of Jesus the Messiah reveals his character, motivation, and purpose. How does this description inspire you to trust Jesus and his promises? How will you apply and share what you have discovered?

I look forward to your comments. Happy Advent and Merry Christmas! – Lisa <

December 1
Genesis 3:1-20; Romans 16:17-20
“Seed of Eve”

December 2
Genesis 22:1-18; John 3:16-17
“Only Beloved Son and Sacrifice”

December 3
Genesis 49:8-10; Revelation 5:1-5
“Lion of Judah”

December 4
Numbers 24:15-19; Matthew 2:1-2; 9-10
“Star of Jacob”

December 5
Deuteronomy 18:14-22; Hebrews 3:1-6
“Prophet Like Moses”

December 6
2 Samuel 7:1-17, Matthew 1:1; Revelation 22:16
“Son of David”

December 7
Psalm 2; Luke 1:35
“Messiah: Son of God and King”

December 8
Job 19:23-27; Psalm 16; 1 Corinthians 8:6
“Resurrected Redeemer”

December 9
Psalm 22; Isaiah 53:1-3; John 1:10-11
“Rejected One”

December 10
Psalm 72; Luke 4:17-19
“Deliverer of the Afflicted”

December 11
Psalm 110; Hebrews 7
“High Priest Forever”

December 12
Isaiah 9:1-7; John 14:27
“Prince of Peace”

December 13
Isaiah 11:1-10; Matthew 3:13-17; John 15:1-7
“Shoot from Jesse’s Stump”

December 14
Isaiah 42:1-10; Isaiah 49:1-7; Luke 2:22-38
“Light for the Nations”

December 15
Isaiah 50:4-11; Matthew 4:23-24
“Teacher and Comforter”

December 16
Isaiah 52:13-53:12
“Suffering Servant and Lamb of God”

December 17
Jeremiah 23:1-6; 33:14-18
“Righteous Branch”

December 18
Ezekiel 34:1-31
“The Good Shepherd”

December 19
Daniel 7:9-14; Micah 5:2-5a
“The Son of Man and Ruler from Bethlehem”

December 20
Zechariah 9:9-10; 12:10-13:1
“King on a Donkey and Pierced Firstborn”

December 21
Malachi 3:1-4; 4:1-6
“Covenant Messenger and Righteous Sun”

December 22
Luke 1:5-38
“Son of the Most High”

December 23
Luke 1:39-80
“The Tender Mercy of God”

December 24
Matthew 1:18-25; John 1:1-14
“Savior from Sin and Word Made Flesh”

December 25
Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 2:1-20
“The Birth of Jesus”

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Jesus, The Coming Messiah © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in devotional settings with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer for Those who Preach and Teach, based on Matthew 13.18-23

bible hold hands

Based on Matthew 13:18-23

Merciful Father, thank you for your word. Thank you for the honor of preaching it and teaching it. Thank you for time to study it deeply. Thank you for translations in my native language. Thank you for faithful mentors who open your word to me.

Christ Jesus, save me from taking your word for granted. For tuning out at a familiar passage. For twisting your word to my advantage or viewpoint. For using your word as a weapon. For being prideful and hardhearted in what I already know. For staying in the shallows, obsessing in exegesis. For allowing work and trouble to choke the grace of your word’s correction and consolation.

With the help of your grace, I surrender and submit again to the calling you have placed on my life as a follower and a leader. I need you, Holy Spirit. Come, tend the soil of my soul. Keep me soft in your hands, that your word would root deep, grow true, and bear fruit in season and out.

For the building of your kingdom, for the salvation of your world, for the honor and glory of your name alone, blessed Trinity, I long and pray. Amen

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Prayer for Those who Preach and Teach © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer for Preachers, based on 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

pulpit-stained-glass

The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NRSV
When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.

Jesus, you are gentle, lowly, vulnerable.
You choose to be with us in our weakness.
You win the world with your love, sacrifice, and humility.

Your power is made perfect in
our weakness
our transparency
our vulnerability
our honesty with our dusty condition

Free us from posing as experts with all the answers.
Free us from silver tongued speech and human wisdom.

Let us know nothing with certainty other than the eternal truth
that you are the Anointed One, the Liberating King,
who was crucified on our behalf.

We entrust the message you have given us back into your hands.
We rely on your Spirit to demonstrate your power
that our faith and the faith of those we serve may be rooted in you alone.
Amen

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Prayer for Preachers based on 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Sermon Recording: The Blessing of God’s Word (and why I need it so badly)

Bible engagement study journalMessage: The Blessing of God’s Word (and why I need it so badly)
Scripture: Isaiah 25:6-9
Offered 1/10/16, Bible Sunday, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

On Bible Sunday we give elementary school age children their first Bibles and rededicate ourselves to the blessing of God’s Holy Word. This day was especially wonderful because we also dedicated new pew Bibles and songbooks. Click Here for the resource we us when presenting Bibles.

Bible Reading Program 2016
The Five Day a Week, through the Bible Reading Plan from Lower Lights Publications mentioned in the sermon.

Ways to Engage God through the Bible

  • Have a plan- what to read and when/where to read it
  • Bible Buddy- for support and accountability
  • Listening – Audio Bible
  • Highlight
  • Copy a verse and carry it with you
  • Journal
  • Art/doodle a verse
  • Pray the scripture

1 Corinthians 15:54-57 NRSV
When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Revelation 21:4 NRSV
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Leon and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

© 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Worship Resource: Presentation of Bibles and Blessing Their Use

child read bibleEarly in the new year we celebrate a Bible Sunday. Everyone is encouraged to bring the Bible they use for devotion and study to worship. (Many do this year round while others use the Bibles we provide in the pews.) This is also the Sunday where we distribute the Bible reading plan for the year and present Bibles to persons who have not received one before- children, teens, and adults.

The following liturgy is for presenting Bibles and blessing their use. I pray it is useful to you as you honor and spread God’s Word. – Lisa <><

PASTOR OR OTHER CHURCH LEADER:
It is our joy and privilege to present you with a Bible. When you read it, remember how deeply you are loved by God and all of us.

The Bibles are distributed to those who have not received one before.

PASTOR OR OTHER CHURCH LEADER: Proverbs 3:1, 2, 5, 6 (NRSV)
King Solomon advised his son, “My child, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and abundant welfare they will give you. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

PASTOR OR OTHER CHURCH LEADER:
Receive the Word of God
Learn its truth.
Here God reveals who we are.
Here God leads us, strengthens us, and gives us purpose.
Here God grants wisdom far beyond what any human can provide.

Everyone is invited to hold their Bible to their chest. Or you could invite them to hold their Bible in the air.

ALL:
Gracious God, thank you for your Word. I accept it and treasure it as a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Thank you for every person who has loved me, prayed for me, and invested in my spiritual development. Multiply the wisdom, skill, and faith you have shared through them. May it live and grow in me and in every person I influence. For the honor and glory of your Name. Amen.

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Worship Resource: Presenting Bibles and Blessing Their Use
© 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the art and the use of this post in other settings,
please refer to the copyright information page.