Question of the Day
If I’ve never read the Bible, how do I get started?
Get Started Today
January, especially January 1, is a time when many people decide to start reading the Bible. And they buy a new copy, even though they have never cracked open the “old” like new copy that has been sitting on their bookshelf for 5 (or 10, 15, 20) years. It seems logical to begin on page 1, and start with Genesis. “In the beginning, when God created…”
And while that may be a good and acceptable way to begin (though many do not begin that way—many often start with a gospel), where do you go after Genesis?
Well, you just follow the plan, and read the number of pages listed for that day, right? You simply go from page 1, to 2, to 3, until you reach the end of the book on December 31. The problem is that the Bible is not a book; it’s a cannon—a library of 73 books. And the books are not in chronological order, but rather, they are organized by literary genre [books of the prophets, wisdom books, poetry, gospels, epistles (or letters), and so forth.]
By the time you get to Leviticus (around March), you probably will stop reading and abandon your journey. Not everyone walks away (years ago, I, as many do, plowed through a “read the Bible in a year chart” and read the books of the Bible as they were bound together, and not as the story unfolds). When you finish, you discover “reading” isn’t enough.
According to Jeff Cavins, coauthor and presenter of The Bible Timeline: The Story of Salvation History, there is a better way to approach your first read of the Bible. Your first read must allow you to grasp the narrative—the story of God’s love. Also, you must understand how to interpret what you are reading, accounting for the sum of the story, and not just picking apart bits of scripture in isolation.
Because “reading the Bible,” is more than just reading and learning, because it is an encounter with the God who loves you, because both your head and heart are required to participate, I recommend that you grab a couple of friends (or likeminded strangers), and allow Jeff Cavins to lead you through the story using The Great Adventure series.
Prayer of the Day: Dialogued Prayer to Take Hold of God’s Word
The wisdom of Jesus is found in two main sources:
—the Holy Bible and the Sacred Tradition of the Church.
But it can also reach us in hundreds of ways, such as:
encounters with other human beings,
meditation on good reading,
and the ordinary events of daily life.
—The sole requirement is that we be open to this wisdom.
The Bible is transmitted to us in human words
written in a time and culture different from our own.
—It requires some effort on our part
so that it will be well understood.
But if we persevere,
we will reach through human word.
—We will take hold of the word of God
that has the power to change the world
beginning with our own lives.
Source: New Saint Joseph People’s Prayer Book #719
Quote of the Day: The Presence of God in the Word
The Holy Bible is “Someone;” it is the presence of God. Therefore, when taking it into your hands, you enter into the realm of that very Presence. It becomes a “mystery” for you, a truth that grasps you and into which you are immersed.
You will find your Lord in the Bible, and that is why your contact with the revealed text has a special meaning. It is contact with God who loves you and desires to affect you with his grace. This contact leads you to inner conversion—its greatest purpose. You should, therefore, not read the Bible just to satisfy your curiosity, or to gain knowledge, or to find a solution to a problem that is nagging you—although this will be needed at times. You should take advantage of this form of contact with the Lord in the hope that he will bestow the grace of conversion on you. If you enter into a person-to-person relationship with Christ, who is present throughout the inspired text, this text will permeate you. Then you will begin to listen intently to the Word of God, understand better the thoughts and desires of Jesus, and begin to know him even better. Saint Jerome warns: “Ignorance of the Holy Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” Listening intently to the Word of God will influence your choices and decisions. You will want them to be in accordance with his teachings and his desires. Reading of the Holy Scriptures is fundamental to your growth in faith and of your sharing in God’s life. It is looking at oneself and surrounding realities as though through the eyes of God.
— The Gift of Faith, pp 215–216, Father Tadeusz Dajczer (1931–2009), Polish priest, professor, and author
Take Hold of the Story of God’s Love for You
- Read Understanding the Bible (USCCB)
- Start or locate a Bible Timeline study
- Buy the materials for your study (Ascension Press)
- Get 90-day reading plan
- Get The Gift of Faith (In the Arms of Mary Foundation)
- Pray before you read the Bible
Scripture of the Day: Hebrews 3:7–14
The Holy Spirit says:
Oh, that today you would hear his voice,
“Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion
in the day of testing in the desert,
where your ancestors tested and tried me
and saw my works for forty years.
Because of this I was provoked with that generation
and I said, ‘They have always been of erring heart,
and they do not know my ways.’
As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter into my rest.'”
Take care, brothers and sisters,
that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart,
so as to forsake the living God.
Encourage yourselves daily while it is still “today,”
so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin.
We have become partners of Christ
if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end.