You have just received your first Bible, and you excitedly sit down to read it. You can’t wait to read God’s Word. You are hungry for it, but where to start?
If you are like most people, you start at the beginning with Genesis. You read the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah and Abraham and you imagine what it is like to be in that time. By the end, you are ready for more and start Exodus and the story of Moses.
All throughout you are learning and growing in God, and it is good. Then you hit Leviticus. You aren’t even through the first chapter and you are bogged down in all the offerings, and you have no clue what it all means. You try to keep reading but it is not long before you just stop because you are confused.
Now you feel guilty because you know that you are supposed to get to know God through His Word, but that’s hard reading. The only thing I can say to you is to join the club. Even mature Christians can get bogged down in those books.
So what do you do?
Simple: don’t read the Bible from cover to cover. The Bible is made up of sixty-six books, and many of them can be read independently of each other.
So where do I start?
You start by getting to know Jesus, and the best place to do that is in the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The word Gospel means good news, and that is what these four books are. They are the good news about the life of Jesus and what He did for us.
Each of them is written from a different person’s perspective, but all of them contain stories about Jesus. You will find some stories are the same, but different as seen from each one’s point of view.
Let’s take a look at each one.
Matthew was a disciple of Jesus, who wrote to his fellow Jews about Jesus, King of the Jews. He wants to show other Jewish people that Jesus was the one who fulfilled all the prophecies of the Old Testament. You will see references to those books throughout his recounting of Jesus’ life. This book contains some of the most famous parts of the Bible including the Lord’s Prayer.
Mark’s overview of Jesus’ life is shorter and is meant to be an easy read to introduce people to Jesus the Son of God. Of all the Gospels, this one reads most like a story.
Luke was a physician and was not one of Jesus’ original twelve disciples. He gathered first-hand accounts from the people involved in Jesus’ life and wrote a journalistic account, being very careful to give accurate details.
John was one of Jesus’ younger disciples and was very close to Jesus. His Gospel is full of the love of God and everything points to having a relationship with Jesus. That is why in my opinion, it is the book of the Bible that you need to read first.
Now it is time to do some reading in the Old Testament. Here are the books that I recommend that you read.
You will find so much in the book of Psalms about how to live life and worship God. Most of these Psalms are words to songs that they use to sing. Some are praise songs of thanksgiving to God for what he has done (Psalm 149). Some are declarations that help you to remember who God is when times are tough (Psalm 91), and some are people pouring out their hearts to God (Psalm 73). Most Psalms are short, making them easy to digest in one sitting.
The writer of Proverbs was King Solomon, considered to be one of the wisest people who has ever lived. The book is wisdom passed down from Father to Son on how to live a victorious life. It is a practical book, filled with many little sayings, some of them well known like, “Pride goes before a fall” (Proverbs 16:8). You will find that you can quickly read a chapter a day or more. Be warned: the proverbs are not supposed to be taken as binding promises from God, rather as general advice for right living, and the usual benefits of living wisely.
If you haven’t already read this book, this is the next one. It tells how everything began and how right from the beginning God had a plan to save us from ourselves. Throughout this book, you will see how people started to learn who God is and to trust Him for incredible things. Let this book inspire you to believe God for His very best.
To round out the top ten
By now you are starting to get an understanding of who God is and how He works in people’s lives. Now it is time to take it to the next level with Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. I need to learn how to count because that makes eleven books, doesn’t it? So you have the top eleven books to read.
These four books are letters written to churches that were established after Jesus’ death and resurrection, addressing various spiritual concerns in each church. These books will help you to understand God even more and help you to learn how to live a victorious life in Jesus.
The important thing in all this is to read God’s Word. That is one of the main ways to get know who God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit are. God wants to be the central part of your life. He wants you to know and trust Him for everything you need.
There is always more to learn from God’s Word. I have been reading it for over 25 years, and I am still learning new things all the time.
Don’t wait. Sit down right now and get to know the God, who loves you more than words could ever say.
~ By Kim Thompson-Pinder