How to Read Your Bible

“God helps those who help themselves.” How often have you heard someone supposedly quote that from the Bible? It’s not in there. At least I didn’t think it was until last week.

In a selected passage for the day from The Message, Micah was responding to false preachers who were saying he shouldn’t tell people bad things were going to happen. They even questioned the message he had been sent to declare by asking, “Does God lose his temper? Is this the way he acts? Isn’t he on the side of good people? Doesn’t he help those who help themselves?”

I had to laugh when I read it, and I figure Eugene Peterson laughed as he wrote it. Some, however, don’t think paraphrases are a laughing matter. In fact, they don’t even like translations of the Bible, thinking the only way to accurately read the Bible is in its original languages.

I recently read an interesting article in CT entitled “Your Bible Translation is Imperfect.” It acknowledges that all translations from one language to another are imperfect, but points out the need to hear or read the Bible in a language, or even a dialect, you can understand. It pointed out that after years in captivity Ezra explained the Law in Aramaic because the people no longer understood Hebrew, and that on the Day of Pentecost the people heard the mighty deeds of God in their own tongues.

I studied Greek for three years in college and was led to believe if I conquered it I would have a correct understanding of everything written in the New Testament. Later, to my chagrin, I discovered that those who had studied biblical languages on a much deeper level than I often disagreed on what was meant.

So what do we do? Just keep reading the Bible in any and all formats you are able, pray for guidance from the Spirit, and strive to understand what God is trying to tell you.

For the last two years many of you joined me reading the Bible chronologically, first in the NIV and then The Message. Next year I’m going back to my favorite, the NASB. The Daily Reading Bible in NASB is only available in a Kindle version, so I’ll be reading the Bible on an iPad next year, which is a new format for me.

Please feel free to join me.

God Bless, Rick

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