Choosing the Right Kind of Bible- Episode 44
The Better Bible Reading Podcast With Kevin Morris
Sometimes the reason we fail to read our Bible is because we’ve failed to create an incentive for different types of Bible reading. This is where choosing the right kind of Bible becomes a helpful incentive for daily Bible reading. This is Episode 44 of the Better Bible Reading Podcast!
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Choosing the Right Kind of Bible: A Simple Guide
You may notice a theme in the episodes so far this year on the podcast. First, I welcomed you into the new year by sharing my Bible reading plan for 2020. Second, I talked to you about some major Bible reading distractions and why we must eliminate them from our lives (one day at a time of course). If you haven’t had a chance to check out those episodes, please do so before listening today as they’ll help set the stage for where I’m coming from.
That being said, suppose you’re on board with what I’ve been saying so far this year. But what happens when you have a bad day? What do you do if the incentive for reading is just not there? Well, there’s a few different options. First, you could decide that bad days means no Bible reading. Obviously you could choose this option, but there’s nothing better about that option. And for anyone who cares enough about reading their Bibles to take the time to listen to this (or read this), this is really a non-option.
A Better Bible Reading Incentive
A better Bible reading incentive for those not so good days is to investigate assess what we need to adjust and change about ourselves so that reading becomes a how instead of an if scenario.
Think about it: The Bible is God’s Word for us. It is conversation- communication with the majestic God of the universe. But the way we engage with God’s word can happen in different ways. Think about Nehemiah 8 for example. God’s people return to His word after a time of rebellion and rejection. The people sit down to receive God’s word, but how do they do this? They listened to it read to be sure, but they were also taught the word by the scribes so that they could understand the meaning of God’s word to them:
Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. (English Standard Version, Nehemiah 8:7-8)
Much can be gathered from that very important passage in Nehemiah, which I’ve written about elsewhere. But for our conversation today, I want to use that concept of receiving God’s word in different methods as an incentive for us to reinforce our reading. We can reinforce our reading with time management, eliminating distractions to be sure. But we need to be on the offensive as much as we are on the defensive when it comes to reading our Bibles consistently. Insert the powerful incentive of choosing the right kind of Bible. Here are four kinds of Bibles you should choose to ensure that your Bible reading is not a question of if but a question of how.
1. Choose the Right Study Bible
A good study Bible will have notes from someone who has spent dozens and perhaps hundreds of hours studying that particular book- someone who can help you understand what you’re reading. Think of this as the scribes in Nehemiah who took the time to make sure the people understood what they were hearing. While study Bibles are not perfect or inerrant in every interpretation being presented, we can benefit greatly by approaching the Bible as a student hungry to study. Study Bibles also help us ask questions we wouldn’t think to ask, such as historical background issues or the meaning of a Greek phrase.
I think a good way to view study Bibles is to think of them as written sermons or lectures alongside the text of Scripture; the notes and insights are very incredibly helpful to the reader, but they should not be your only experience of Bible-reading, the same way your Sunday morning sermon experience should not be your only experience with the Bible.
Choosing the right study Bible can be subjective, but I can’t recommend the ESV study Bible enough. It is a great work of academia and it will certainly give you a good incentive for regular Bible reading.
2. Choose the Right Cross-Reference Bible
While cross-reference Bibles are not always presented as a type of Bible as much a a feature, it’s important to know that most but not all Bibles have a cross-reference system. Cross-references are simply a way of connecting the verse you are reading with other verses throughout the Bible.
Why is this important to know when choosing the right kind of Bible? Because sometimes we get frustrated with the passage we’re on because we may not understand if. But if there is a cross-reference verse that connects to the verse we’re reading, we can turn to that verse and discover a fuller meaning of a word or phrase that was confusing. This helps us to progress our reading, instead of coming to a frustrating dead end that turns us off from the idea of reading.
Another option similar to cross-reference Bibles is use three different translations throughout your average week of reading. For example, you might not understand the passage you’re reading in your ESV, but the New American Standard Version, the New International Version, or the King James Version could help clarify what the ESV worded differently. Using different translations can help us develop a rich vocabulary of the different translation methods and expanding your ability to comprehend the main point of any given passage.
3. Choose the Right Reading Bible
Perhaps for a much different reading experience, try using the tools that come with many electronic Bible apps that allow you to hide the chapters, verse numbers, and paragraph headings for a unique reading experience. Don’t like using mobile devices when reading the Bible? There’s another option: I prefer a hard copy Bible when reading, so I purchased the ESV Reader’s Bible set which has each book of the Bible without any reference numbers; all you have is the biblical text itself.
This is especially helpful when attempting to read longer portions of Scripture without getting distracted (Step 2) by study notes, verse numbers, highlights, and other study aids that may not be equally helpful for the type of reading that you are trying to do.
4. Choose the Right Journaling Bible
Lastly, choose the right kind of Bible to encourage active reading, which simply means reading with your pen! Write while you read. by using a journaling Bible. Journaling Bibles are gaining popularity and the options are ever-expanding.
There are really two types of journaling Bibles you should know about: First there are the journal Bibles with lines on each page. Second, there are wide-margin Bibles, which do not provide lines to write on; instead they provide blank text. I am a huge fan of wide-margin Bibles, but either type of journaling Bible will certainly come in handy for you. Here’s how you can use them:
Ever come across that verse you highlighted last year in your study Bible and wonder why exactly you highlighted it? Maybe you thought about trying to write something off to the side, but there just wasn’t any room. Having a wide-margin Bible can truly help with this. It is a unique way to map your own progress in learning and reading. Wide margin Bibles are in essence your own personal study Bible, leaving you room to make notes, draw lines, highlight, and converse with the text as you read it. It also turns out that this is a great way to map your progress through certain books of the Bible.
This formula is not a magic formula. But its simplicity may be the key to overcoming reading obstacles you’ve been experiencing. Trying to do too much with one type of Bible could be hurting you. Now you can choose four different types of Bibles. The question should no longer be if you will read. Instead, you have four options to inform how you read.
Remember, God’s word is conversational and conversations are dynamic. Sometimes it’s good to just sit and listen. Other times it’s good to digest a particular passage by engaging the text with study methods. Choosing the right kind of Bible helps ensure that we are always conversing with the Lord in His word.
Simply put, find a good Bible- then find more! Diversity in reading is a great incentive for consistency in reading!
Thanks for listening today!
Now that you know how to choose the right kind of Bible, it’s time to learn a study process. Check out my free 7-Day Bible Study Boot Camp and learn my repeatable study process for any book of the Bible!