There really are no better ways to get to know someone than to learn their story & spend time with them. God is no exception. The Bible is God's story from the time He created the universe, 'til now, and beyond. If you want to know more about who God is, and how he feels about us - reading the Bible is your next step.
Great question! Most books are intended to be read from front to back, telling a single story. They are enjoyed for a moment in time, and then put on a shelf. The Bible is totally different. Though it does tell a story (God's story), it is designed to provide new incite into the character of God and his desires for us with every reading. Each time, you read Scripture, there is the possibility that Holy Spirit will reveal a new 'layer' of meaning consistent with his purpose. Here are some basics:
Unless you are fluent in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek - you are reading a translation of the original...and there are many to choose from. Why so many? A couple of reasons:
The important thing is to pick a translation that connects with you, right now. We suggest downloading the YouVersion App, and giving multiple translations a try. You will settle on one that works for you (and it's ok to change your mind later). If you are worshipping with us at Gretna, our pastors currently use the CSB (Christian Standard Bible).
It's unfortunate that we even have to address this, but we really believe that God desires his story to be told effectively and accurately. As mentioned above, there are great reasons for trying to capture the 'thoughts' of God in our translations. Sadly, there are a few efforts at translation that we believe are less focused on how God wants us to know him, and more on how we want to know God (on our own terms). The problem with knowing God only on our terms is that we miss out on who he really is, and where he wants us to go.
Here are a few translations we recommend avoiding:
If you any any questions or concerns, please let us know. Our goal is to help each other pursue God.
As a follower of Jesus, you have access to His personal guide - Holy Spirit. He will help you hear God's message for you. Ask God to help you understand His Word. Ask God use His Word to teach you, to direct you and even to re-direct you, when necessary. Ask Him to use His Word to help you know Him and love Him.
The Book of Genesis is the first of the 66 books & letters that make up the Bible. Even though it is 'the beginning', it is better to first understand Jesus. Once you know who He is, the rest of the Bible makes more sense. We recommend you start in the book of John. The fourth book of the New Testament, John gives us an eyewitness account of Jesus' life, and some insight into what it means to follow Him. After that, we recommend the rest of the Gospels, Acts, and the Letters (1 Corinthians - 3 John).
Remember, the Bible is God's story - and that story points to Jesus, even when He's not mentioned directly. The coming of Jesus in the New Testament (stories of Jesus & his young church) fulfills hundreds of Old Testament (ancient writings given by God to his people). Jesus is there - the whole time.
We inherently get better at the things we invest our time and energy in - and Bible reading is no exception. We recommend setting aside 10-15 minutes each day (maybe the same time & place every day) to read the Bible and listen for God's voice. As you build a habit, you will find your soul longing for that time, and missing it when it doesn't happen.
Reading the Bible is not a race. The Scriptures are meant to be 'savored'. It's much better to read fewer verses each day and allow it to nourish your soul. Create ways to put the same scripture back in your thoughts throughout the day. Write it out on a piece of paper and stick it to your dashboard in the car; make it your device wallpaper for the day; mark it in the YouVersion app and listen to it 3 more times that day. What other ways can you keep it in your thoughts?
As you read, make it a point to ask two questions: What does this teach me about God? What does this teach me about how He wants me to live?
Write down the answers and make a commitment to put the information to work today - maybe on the job, at school, with your family, or your finances. The power of God's word comes to life when we live it out.