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First things first: How ordinary Aussies read their Bibles

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Six different Australians from different parts of the country and at different times of their lives share how they read the Bible every day.

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My tip: read the whole book

Bert Bain, Retired church minister, NSW
My first readings of the Bible were from beginning to end. There were passages that I did not understand but I was determined not to give up. This introduced me to God, and His requirements and expectations of His people: all people have the freedom to submit to God, or remain in ignorance regarding this present life and the life to come. I discovered such great men as Abraham, Moses and David had times of doubt and failure.

To become a follower of Christ, I saw the need to study the life of Christ. Jesus is the only way to heaven, and Jesus is the one who exemplified how to live in this confused and distorted world. In recent times, I have conducted specific, topical searches of the Bible, as I find this very beneficial when witnessing to those unfamiliar with the word of God. ‘…It is written. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ (Matthew 4:4)

Joining the 5AM club

Naomi Johnson, home-schooling mother of four, NSW
I get up at 5am to get some time before my four kids wake up, grab a cuppa, tiptoe around the house and sit in the lounge room. I read the Bible through in chronological order each alternate year, and the other year, I select a book each month and read repeatedly. I am reading through Jeremiah at the moment (what a message!). I have a notepad where I write the ideas and verses that jump out at me, the overall idea and think about how it connects to Jesus and then through him to me.

I have a prayer notebook too. Firstly I pray for what the passage has brought up. I search my heart for things to be confessed and I pray for any people the Lord brings into my mind. Then I pray through my prayer list. There are some people that are always on the list, and there are people that pop on the list as they have particular needs. Sometimes I then listen to a worship song, or listen to a sermon podcast or take the dog for a walk (or all three), but at the moment, one of the kids is usually awake and so the rest of my day begins.

I hardly know what to say to describe how God is changing me through this, because the growth, insight, and change in me has been far-reaching and massive. The best thing about it is the true joy there is in knowing God. And there is nothing in my life that is not affected by that.

I begin by kneeling

Margaret Purton, church volunteer, SA
I do my devotional reading straight after I get up, before breakfast. I begin by kneeling and briefly praying; kneeling is the way I acknowledge God is greater than me. I ask for concentration and teaching. I always read through a whole book of the Bible, not random or isolated passages. Reading a whole book puts what I am reading in its context, and this gives me better understanding. I read one or two chapters, ask myself questions and write down any thoughts. I try to read the whole Bible every 12-18 months, though not necessarily in order from Genesis to Revelation. I always feel it is a shame after gaining so many insights to not read that same book again within a few years, otherwise I will forget many of the wonderful thoughts.

Through reading the Bible regularly, I am reminded afresh of who God is and who I am. It puts daily life into proper perspective. I meet Jesus in the words of the Bible—they are truly living words that touch my heart. I can never come to the end of knowing God, so there is always the possibility of seeing something else about his nature. The more I read, the more I see the unity in the whole Bible: his judgments, his grace and mercy are on every page.

Reading the church year

Andrew Robinson, Assistant Minister, ACT
I’ve recently discovered the lectionary: that complex and comprehensive pattern of Bible readings mapped onto the church’s year. For a long time, I was all about spontaneous Bible reading—not quite ‘open-the-Bible-and-point’—but I had the sense that if I wasn’t choosing the readings, there was something inauthentic about the whole thing.

But the further I get in my Christian walk, the less happy I’ve been with my own idiosyncratic Bible-reading strategies. I’m actually really enjoying reading the same passages as many other Christians around the world (although, let’s be honest: days have been missed).

Things I love about the lectionary: you read through the rhythm of the church year—through Lent and Advent—and are reminded of all sorts of biblical heroes and antiheroes. You’re regularly immersed in the voices of the biblical writers, and you’re constantly praying and reading the Psalms. Plus you don’t have to worry about choosing what you’re going to read—open up to today’s date, work out if it’s morning or evening and you’re ready to go.

First and last thing I do

Marjorie Theng, hairstylist, NSW
First thing in the morning, after getting dressed up and feeling refreshed I do my daily online reading with the Reformation Study Bible by R.C. Sproul which covers the whole Bible in one year. Then just before I go to bed at night, I do the evening reading. This helps me start and end my day with God’s word on my mind. I find the references and readings very comprehensive, and not too long or too short.  Sometimes daily devotions can be too light and at other times too heavy to understand. I do not have much time in the mornings, so this is just perfect.

Transforming my mind daily

Matt Prater, pastor at New Hope Brisbane, and Vision Radio Breakfast Host, QLD
I have a daily reading plan, which the New Hope churches and many others worldwide follow. Doing daily devotions repatterns the way we think and transforms the spirit of the mind. Then when we face similar situations as Jesus did, we begin to respond in the same way.

Journaling is an excellent way to record and process what God has spoken to us. Without writing them down, you may forget those blessings and important lessons! You may want to share some of your journaling with your small group or mentors. Through discussion, you may be able to look deeper into what God is saying, gain new insight and encourage others.

S for Scripture: Open your Bible to the reading found under today’s date of your Bible bookmark. Take time reading and allow God to speak to you. Look for a verse that particularly spoke to you that day, and write it in your journal.

O for Observation: What do you think God is saying to you in this scripture? Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and reveal Jesus to you. Write this scripture down in your own words.

A for Application: Personalise what you have read, by asking yourself how it applies to your life now. Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, revelation of a new promise, or corrections for a particular area of your life. Write how this scripture can apply to you today.

P for Prayer: This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this scripture, or it may be a greater insight on what he may be revealing. Remember, prayer is a two-way conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say! Now, write it down.

Want help with your own Bible reading? Bible Society Australia has a Daily Bible email service, sending you a short Bible verse and question to ponder during the day, every morning. We’ve got different topic and themes for each month, so there’s always something different. Sign up today! 

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