“Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23:29
You have only five minutes in the morning. Then you head for work, come home tired at the end of the day and fall exhausted into bed. Your conscience nags at you a bit and you really want to pick up your Bible and spend a few minutes reading. "But, can I really get anything out of this in five or ten minutes?" you ask yourself as you debate even bothering. Here are four tried and true guidelines which will help you. Make a note of these four words. They are 1) attitude; 2) observation; 3) interpretation, and 4) application.
Guideline #1: Your attitude is the key to using that time profitably. As you sit down, your first battle is with your thoughts which flood your mind and break your concentration. Shut out the rest of the day and focus on what you are reading. Then, ask God to speak to you. The depth of your encounter with the Bible is far more important than its length. Some say, read the Bible through every year—there are various reading plans for accomplishing this. But more importantly than plowing through chapters or books on a schedule is digging in until God has impressed His truth on you, whether it is in the first ten verses or several chapters.
Guideline #2: Observation. You have to observe what you are reading and understand it to profit from it. How many times have we all read something and not remembered one thing? Like the seed which falls on the wayside, our frenetic schedules keep our minds spinning, choking out any meaningful understanding. How easy is it for our minds to race on to the day's agenda instead of concentrating on those moments with God’s Word? If you are losing the battle of concentration, then try reading the Book out loud. As you read, try to note names, who wrote what and to whom, geographic locations, and historical reference. Often a short commentary, as Wycliffe's Bible Commentary which is even free online, helps a lot. If you are a new Christian, start with the Gospel of John, and then go on to the book of Acts, to get an overall picture. But no matter what you do, do not ignore the Old Testament, which points forward to the New Testament.
Guideline #3: Interpretation. What does it mean? Generally, the clearest, simplest interpretation is the correct one. Some would have you to think that only those with great spiritual insights can understand the Bible. Someone trying to convince an audience that he has "insights" which others have not been spiritual enough to gain, are suspect. God did not give His book to theologians but to common, ordinary people, and common, ordinary meanings are usually right on target.
Guideline #4: Application. How do I apply this great truth to my life? Most of what the Bible says is straightforward. God's purpose in giving us this magnificent Book is to help us know how to live. Healthy living, God's plan, His blueprint‑‑all of these are part of His will for us that is revealed in the Bible. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you answer the question: “What does this mean in my life?” Did you know that is one of the Holy Spirit’s roles? John 16:13 says that the Holy Spirit “will guide you into all the truth.”
The Bible also says of itself, “The Word of God is living and active” (in Hebrews 4:12). George Mueller, a great man of the Christian faith, once wrote, "I have read the Bible through one hundred times, and always with increasing delight. Each time it seems like a new book to me." Spend time with the Bible. You will find it is unlike any book you have ever read.
Resource Reading: James 1:22-24