Heather – thank you for the excellent question. The Bible can be a challenge to read because it does not read like an ordinary book from cover to cover. It was written over thousands of years, by nearly 40 authors and in several languages. To put it in simple terms, the Old Testament gives us a foundation for who God is, his character and the foreshadowing of Christ’s coming. The New Testament is about Jesus’ life, crucifixion, resurrection, the spread of the gospel and instructions for Christian living.
So where do you start? Let me go book by book in order of where they fall in the Bible and explain it – I will give you my recommendations as I go. Hold on to your seat – cause here we go on a ride through the entire Bible!
The Book of Genesis tells us how God created the world, how mankind fell into sin, and the impact of the fall. This book is necessary for a complete understanding of God’s word.
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are filled with the Jewish law – which can be difficult to read…so you may want to save those books for later in your journey. But don’t miss them because all of God’s word is meant to be read!
Joshua through Job gives a lot of Jewish history. When I studied these books I kept a “Character of God” journal – where I wrote down all the things I learned about my God. I learned so much about how my God works in the lives of real people. These are not hard to read but they are not the place to start. Once you have a good foundation – head over to these books.
Then there’s Psalms – which I LOVE – as history and poetry collide, again the character of God shines brightly. This is what I am reading in my quiet time currently.
Next comes Proverbs. It’s a favorite of mine. It is filled with God’s wisdom for relationships – marriage, parenting, friends and neighbors. This is a great book to commit to memory.
Ecclesiastes is a wisdom book and Song of Solomon is a great book about having a loving marriage…if you want to read some hot stuff – read here lol!!!
Isaiah through Malachi are prophetic books and again a very difficult read…don’t avoid them – but save them for later.
Then there’s the gospels – This is where you start!!! If you want to know more about Jesus, his life and teachings you MUST start in the gospels – the book of John is the most common book people refer beginners to – and I agree. All four gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are wonderful – but they overlap each other – so you may not want to read all four in a row. Start in the book of John!
In Acts – we see Jesus ascend into heaven and the beginning of the Christian church as we know it today. This is the sequel to the gospels so I recommend you read this after you read a gospel.
Then there’s the book of Romans – this book clearly defines salvation and grace – I love this book. So after reading the Gospel of John, then Acts, read Romans. If you read these three books -you will have a very strong foundation for what you believe!
From there we delve into the epistles – they are all helpful for how to apply the principles of God to practical life – but some are easier to understand than others.
My favorites are Ephesians, Philippians, James and I John. I recommend you read these next after reading John, Acts and Romans.
Then finally we come to Revelation – a book of prophecy about the end times. This is a hard book to understand but certainly a fascinating one. Read it when you feel comfortable with some of the other readings above.
So, turn off those cell phones, ipods, and televisions and open God’s word – the Bible. The only place on this planet that you will find a word from God and what he wants you to do with your life is on those pages. Pray and ask God to help you to understand his word and then dig in and enjoy!
And for my seasoned Christian Bible readers – please chime in – what are your favorite passages and what would you recommend for those who are new to Bible reading? There is no right or wrong answer to this question so it’s okay if you have a different suggestion.
The key is – Walk with the King!