Recently, I enjoyed a fascinating conversation with a ministry leader in Eastern Europe. She lives and serves in a country devastated by war alongside her husband who pastors a local church. In the face of incomprehensible suffering, more people are visiting their church. On a recent Sunday morning, her husband discussed the Bible and explained how it includes sixty-six books. Afterward, one visitor who was curious to know more sought out the church’s bookshelves. She stood there confused and asked, “Where are the sixty-six books of the Bible?”
Not everyone is familiar with the Bible. And not everyone knows the God of the Bible.
Suppose you relate to this - welcome! Please know that we view your newness and questions about God and His Word as positive and helpful. Your fresh eyes and honest curiosity can offer a breath of fresh air to God and others, particularly those of us who have lost our curiosity somewhere along the way. So, introducing you to the Bible is a great pleasure and privilege.
As I listened to my friend and imagined this puzzled woman staring at the bookshelf seeking sixty-six books, I came face-to-face with the way I take my Bible, and even my knowledge about the Bible, for granted. I’ve enjoyed the privilege of reading this Book for decades. My grandparents gifted me my first Bible when I was seven years old. Aside from God gently drawing me to Himself, I can’t explain it, but I loved that Book. I loved reading that Book. And I was curious. I read my Bible every night before going to bed. I didn’t understand it as a child, but God seemed to speak. He did not speak audibly; instead, the communication seemed to be Spirit to spirit.
Reading the Bible made the world, my closet, and the things under my bed seem less scary.
As a little girl, I enjoyed this personal Bible reading time, but I also enjoyed attending church, where pastors, teachers, and mentors taught me a lot about this extraordinary book. If you walk into a church, you will most likely find other people like me who grew up with dedicated Sunday School teachers, the men and women who taught us Bible stories. They helped us memorize the names of the sixty-six books of the Bible. They taught us how to look up Bible verses quickly. Sometimes, we participated in Bible drills where girls and boys raced to be the first to find a verse of the Bible. I loved beating the boys. And candy prizes delighted me! (Thank you, Mrs. Westbrook!)
Yet, eventually, as I entered my teen years, I outgrew my curiosity about the Bible. Don’t get me wrong, I continued to read my Bible. But instead of approaching God and His Word with curiosity, I became demanding. I would pull out my Bible and exclaim, “Lord, I need a Word from You!” Then, I would let my Bible open randomly, which usually meant it opened somewhere in the middle. Often, I would find a Psalm (an ancient prayer song) or a proverb (a wise saying) and take away some morsel of God’s Word. In this way, as a self-centered teenager, I learned to make the Bible mostly about me. I cringe to think about how demanding and self-centered I was with God.
The Bible is not about me.
Yet, God “gets us.” Even in this teenage stage of seeking Him, God sees and hears a plea for help. And He is gracious. He did not give up on me.
All this to say, just because we grew up attending church, Sunday school, or reading our Bibles does not make us Bible or God experts. Despite it taking longer than I care to admit to leaving my teenage way of reading the Bible behind, Bible study has been a lifelong habit. After all these years, one thing I can say for sure is that I have so much more to learn!
Within the Church, people have varying relationships with their Bibles, Bible reading, and Bible understanding.
Newbies full of curiosity.
Busy people overwhelmed by daily hustle and bustle, wondering, "Who has time to read the Bible?"
Christians young and old who feel intimidated by the Bible.
People who feel lost, confused, and inadequate to know God.
People who feel guilty because they are not reading the Bible.
Sceptics who consider this Book outdated, perhaps irrelevant to 21st-century life.
Scholars, academics, pastors, and teachers who have spent countless hours researching and learning to serve Jesus and His Church better.
From newbies with no Bible experience to experts with lots of experience, we find varying levels of engagement with the Bible, even within the Church. Please know that wherever you are in this continuum, there is a seat at the table for you.
Friend, that also goes for those who feel numb towards Him and His Word. He invites you to the table.
Sometimes, in our life journey, we can hit a dry wilderness. Somewhere along the way, knowing God through the Bible loses its luster. We lose our curiosity. God feels distant. Perhaps we know a little too much. Maybe we know too little. Or we focus on the wrong or unimportant things. Our friendship with God can ebb and flow due to the constancy or inconstancy of our hearts.
Consider a marriage relationship. In the newlywed stage, we can’t get enough of our spouse. After work, we are so excited to reconnect with one another. But after ten, fifteen, twenty years of marriage, we sometimes wake up to find we live together on auto-pilot. We know too much. We know too little. We focus on the wrong or unimportant things. Instead of remaining curious, we merely think we know our spouse. We begin to miss out on the joy and contentment of engaging together as friends and lovers.
The same holds with God and the Bible. We can wake up and find ourselves on auto-pilot.
Knowing the sixty-six books of the Bible, how to find a particular Bible verse, or rattling off John 3:16 significantly differs from genuinely connecting with our Best Friend and Lover of our souls through His Word. Like us, God desires much more than hearts and minds on auto-pilot. He does not settle for lackluster, joyless, and hopeless. You see, God wants friendship. He desires to share His heart with us and that we share ours with Him.
Like us, He desires to be seen, known and loved. And He has gifted us with the means: The Bible.
At Simply Bible, we are passionate about helping others not only know God but enjoy God through His Word. Our SIMPLY BIBLE books and resources are designed to help you break out of a stale, auto-pilot relationship and learn to engage or re-engage with God through His Word personally. We love the work that we do because we see hearts come alive again and again. We want to see more!
So, for 2024, we’d like to offer a how-to series on the SIMPLY BIBLE Basics. If you are new to the Bible or have enjoyed reading it for a lifetime, we invite you to explore and review the basics with us. Bible study is not rocket science. God would not desire us to know Him and then make it too difficult for us. Instead, He has gifted us with the Bible and capable minds to know Him. Beyond that, He has blessed us with hearts for the very purpose of loving and enjoying Him. To attain this, we need a few tools and a little practice using those tools.
Together, let’s cover the basics. We will learn, practice, and better understand how to unpack God’s incredible gift to us. The reward? It’s better than candy! The goal is the sweetness of God’s Word and a more profound friendship with God.
Reading and knowing God through the Bible does make the world, our closets, and the things under our beds less scary.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Lord God, thank You for the gift of Your Word so we might connect with You. Thank You for the minds to know You. Hearts to enjoy and love You. Assure us of Your Presence and love. Ignite our hearts to seek and love You.
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