The start of the new year often means the start of a new Bible reading plan. For most of us, we start strong, fight through the "descendants" and difficult names. The familiarity of Exodus (thanks to Cecil B. DeMille) puts some winds in our reading sails. Then we hit the rough waters of Leviticus. You get the idea...
God reveals Himself to us in His Word. We want to see Him in His Triune glory there. Fighting against the difficulty of reading regularly, consistently, and prayerfully is one of the most important battles we face every day that God gives us.
Below, I am recommending three resources that may help you, not just stick with your Bible reading, but love God's Word more, even the difficult parts. My prayer is that one or two or all three of these resources will help you fight and win the battle so you can consistently read God's Word and God will consistently bless you through your personal Bible reading.
This is not a countdown, from best to least best. All three books will benefit different people in different ways. The first book will concern itself with the Bible as text, the books of the Bible, their authors and contexts, etc.
The second book will concern itself with the heart of the Bible reader.
The third book's title says it: Read This First: A Simple Guide to Getting the Most from the Bible
#130 Days to Understanding the Bible by Max Anders, has been around for a while. It is the most in-depth and "Bible-specific". It has seven sections and rings in at 385 pages. There are "self-tests" at the end of every chapter to help you know what you learned. It is "textbooky" but accessible and helpful.
I would recommend this book for those who are relatively familiar with the Bible but want to know the structure, the geography, and the time periods God inspired the various writers to write. This would be a helpful resource for Bible readers who want to dig a bit deeper.
If you would prefer not to buy this book for that purpose, you would benefit from a trusted Study Bible like the ESV Study Bible or the Reformation Study Bible. Just pay attention to the Introduction to each book and the notes they provide as you read through.
#2Before You Open Your Bible by Matt Smethurst could not be more different than the previous recommendation. Each small chapter is focused on how we ought to approach God's Word as we come to it. The subtitle says it all: Nine Heart Postures for Approaching God's Word. We approach
God's Word prayerfully, humbly, desperately, etc. This is a fantastic booklet, only 89 pages. This book is written for those of us who, as Smethurst writes in the introduction; are too intimidated by the Bible, or too familiar with the Bible. Paul Tripp's blurb: "I love this book! I need it and so do you."
#3Read This First: A Simple Guide to Getting the Most from the Bible by Greg Millar. What you see is what you get. Tim Challies recommends this book in his review here. Challies writes there that Millar wrote this book for the benefit of two audiences; for those who feel lost and confused when they begin reading their Bibles. A second audience might be those who are new to the faith and have been put off by the small print, the "religious language", the size, etc. I benefited from this book and I, with Challies, am pleased to recommend it to anyone who has been or wants to regularly read God's Word.
That's it. Any one of these resources, I trust, would serve many of you well. Remember, as you approach God's Word, the majesty and beauty of what He has given to us.
The Westminster Larger Catechism Q&A 4:
Q. How does it appear that the scriptures are the Word of God?
A: The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God, by their majesty and purity; by the consent of all the parts, and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God; by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation: but the Spirit of God bearing witness by and with the scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very word of God.