How do we read the Bible? Talk about it!
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7
When I was in college, I was hired by Taylor University’s Center for Scripture Engagement. I was a researcher and writer. Eventually, that led to my work as a contributing writer for the Abide Bible. More importantly, it sparked a love for God’s Word in my life that was deeper than I ever could have imagined. As I researched new ways to read the Bible, I implemented them myself and was surprised by how little I knew about engaging with Scripture.
I wanted to start by giving you a little background into my relationship with the Bible. Hang tight, it won’t take long. Keep this in mind, because later, I’m going to challenge you to think through your relationship with the Bible and to talk to someone about it.
The first and most important thing we have to believe is true about the Bible is that it is the authoritative Word of God. It isn’t just a cool work of literature (although, it’s actually pretty incredible as a work of literature) it has to be a trusted source for authority, guidance, and wisdom in our lives that is inspired by God. When I started to read the Bible, I was looking for some feel good stuff like “you have a future and a hope” or “God is within her, therefore she will not fail.” Great content for a Pinterest board, but not so great when life is full of real hardships and actual struggles that we need to know and look to a supernatural God for.
I came to the Bible with what I now call the “magic 8 ball” approach. I’d flip it open, read a random passage from a random page, and hope God would speak. It was the opposite of an intentional approach. I wanted to discover God for myself, but I had no idea how to. So what did I do? I started from the beginning. With no context, no help, no preparation or prayer and without any idea as to what I was doing, I tried to read the Bible from start to finish and at some point I gave up.
I wanted the transformational encounter I heard other people talk about but I didn’t know how to get there myself.
If that’s you, you aren’t alone. A lot of us pretend to know what we’re doing, not willing to admit that it’s actually hard and confusing and we all have a lot of room to learn and grow.
For me, a combination of learning to hear God’s voice and learning scripture engagement practices changed the way I read the Word. I could approach it with confidence knowing God wanted to fill me up daily, relying on Him to always speak a fresh word to my spirit, and recognizing that with a little bit of practice and some intentionality, it was a lot less intimidating than I thought.
Here’s the really cool thing about the Bible, if you don’t remember anything else, remember this: scripture itself will teach you how to read and engage with it.
A great example of this is in Deuteronomy 6. What are we told to do with the commandments? To impress them on our hearts, to pass them on to the next generation, to talk about them when we are at home, when we are on the move, when we are just waking up, and when we are concluding our day. In other words, scripture should always be on our lips and in our hearts.
We should both be meditating on the Word of God and talking about it. For now, let’s focus on talking about scripture. We should be contemplating scripture whether we are at home on the couch with a pizza, stuck in Nashville traffic on our commute, telling Google Home to “turn off the alarm” in the morning, or being alerted by our iPhones that it’s bedtime.
When was the last time you mentioned something you read in the Bible in a conversation?
Maybe it was at a coffee date with a coworker, in a phone call with your mom, or when you were trying to encourage a friend during a tough season. Or maybe, you don’t leave the Bible feeling like you can relay the passage to anyone who might cross your path today. So, that’s my challenge to you. Don’t be weird about it, just be normal, and talk about the Bible.
When I was in school, this was always a strategy we used to decide whether or not we knew the material we were studying. I always knew I really understood the material when I could explain it to someone else, and the same is true of the Bible. When we’re able to take the passage a step further, when we can explain it to someone else, we’re engaging with the Word a little bit deeper than we would be if we just skimmed a passage and popped a pic of it up on our Instagram stories.
Once you read a passage, think to yourself, how does this relate to my life, or, how could I tell someone about this passage?
It doesn’t have to be incredibly thorough as if you’re a guest speaker on a podcast, I just want you to be able to say when someone’s sad, “that sounds a lot like something David said in a Psalm I read this morning.” Think through the passage and how you might explain it to someone else. What sticks with you for the rest of the day? What makes you ask a question about yourself, or the world, or God? Talk about it!
When we talk about scripture, we remind other people of the truth and where it’s found, but we also remind ourselves to weave scripture into our ordinary, daily lives and to not leave it sitting on the coffee table in the morning after reading a quick daily reading.
Instead, when we talk about scripture, it becomes real to us. It becomes the lens through which we see the world, it shapes the way we ask questions, the way we comfort friends, the way we walk and talk and carry ourselves. It transforms us in a way that other people will notice, ask us about it, and ultimately it glorifies God.
How to Engage:
Want a little extra help? Don’t worry, I got you! Below are 7 passages for this week. If you are using another Bible plan, you can definitely stick with it and implement this tool there too. If not, look up these passages and talk about them! Think through how you would talk about it as you read, and ask God to prepare your heart to share any connections you made with someone else during your day!
Monday: Jeremiah 32:42-44
Tuesday: Ruth 1:8-14
Wednesday: Psalm 37
Thursday: Luke 12:8-12
Friday: 1 Timothy 4:13-15
Saturday: Hebrews 4:12-13
Sunday: 1 John 1:1-4
-Think about your relationship with the Bible. When did it start? How do you go to God’s Word? When do you go to it and for what? Start a conversation with someone about this!
-When was the last time you talked about the Bible in a normal conversation? (aka your small group doesn’t count…)
-How can you see yourself talking about the Bible as a way to engage with scripture on a deeper level?
Hey God, thank you so much for your Word and for teaching us how to use it, how to learn from it, and how to get to know you. Holy Spirit guide our words and help us to recall what we know from the Word and to talk about it. Bring opportunities to us today, and help us to move in boldness and honor the Father through our speech. Amen.