Jack,I am a new Christian ...

Chelsey asked:

Jack,

I am a new Christian and I am reading the Bible and I was wondering if there is a way to read the bible for me to better understand it?

I am currently just reading it straight through, but I have heard there is a better way to read it by skipping around in several different books and various chapters for a more thorough better understanding.

If you could recommend a 'reading bible study' that would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Jack.

God Bless,

Chelsey

Jack Answered:

Hi, Chelsey:

Congratulations on responding to God's call! Thanks, too, for writing me.

Many people have the same difficulty you have expressed. The Bible seems so long and complicated. The first book (Genesis) is interesting, but as you read on, things seems to get bogged down in sacrifices and other details dealing with God's instructions to Israel.

Some suggestions:

1) The second section or half of the Bible is called the "New Testament." It begins with 4 biographies of Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). I would begin with one of these. Mark is the shortest and will give you a swift overview of Jesus' life. You might then like to read John, which also talks about Jesus' life but includes material and a focus a bit different from Mark's.

Ask yourself the questions: - Who is Jesus? - What does he say about himself? - What does he want his followers to do? - Put yourself in the picture as if you would one of his followers. What does he say to you?

2) I would then read the book of Acts. This is the history of what happened after Jesus died and was raised from the dead. Some questions: - What was the question the disciples asked Jesus (what were they expecting)? (Acts 1:6) How did Jesus answer them? What was he expecting them to do? (Acts 1:8) - What was the message of the new Christians? - What was the first church like? (end of Chapter Two) - How did the first churches get started? What problems did they have? - Peter and Paul are the major characters in Acts. What do you learn from them? - What do you learn about the Holy Spirit?

3) After Acts, read some of Paul's letters ("Epistles", they are called.) - The two letters to the Thessalonians were the first written. Paul writes them to new churches to give them encouragement and instructions. - Paul also wrote to his young leaders, like Timothy (whom we meet in the book of Acts) and Titus (whom we don't). What advice does he give them? - Peter and John also wrote letters to young Christians (they're in the final chapters of the New Testament). - Then, pick and choose other books of the New Testament. Save the Book of Revelation until the last. You may need some help with this one!

4) Some general observations: - Try to find a modern translation of the Bible, like the New International Version or the Revised Standard Version. There are many out there and all can be helpful. Don't be afraid to underline phrases that are helpful. - It's better to read a little every day than long gobs every once in a while. Make your reading a part of your daily schedule, even if it's only 15 minutes. When you have finished reading, use what you have read to nourish your prayers. - Ask the Lord to speak to you as you read, to give you a special word for you. Here are some general questions you can ask: = Do I find a command I need to obey? = A promise I can claim? = A warning to heed? = A word of encouragement? - When you find a verse that really speaks to you, plan to memorize it. - It would help you if you could find a group of people who like to study the Bible and become a part of it. - It would also help if you had a Christian friend who could answer some of your questions for you, or study with you. - If you get stuck, write me.

I trust this will be helpful. Sorry it has come late. I've been out of the country.

Blessings on you,

Jack

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