How to read the Bible

Psalm 41

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs. Matt is one of the leaders at St Mary’s, married to Pip and oversees the pastoral life of the church.

Psalm 23:1


The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

Reflection

How to Read the Bible: Chewing

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to read the whole Bible in a year before. If you have, you’ve probably experienced the point where you just end up trying to read the Bible to keep up with the plan rather than reading the Bible to meet with God.

Bible reading becomes task-oriented rather than presence-oriented.

Let’s be honest this usually happens when you finish Leviticus and realise that you then have to read Numbers…

Anyway, to counter this task orientation I like to chew on a very small piece of scripture through the day. Quality over quantity.

Sometimes this is a verse or a small phrase of scripture and I mull it over throughout the day.
For example, from Psalm 23: The Lord is my Shepherd.
All I do is keep saying the phrase over and over in my head asking for the Spirit to reveal something fresh to me throughout the day. So it goes a bit like this. Excuse the stream of consciousness.

The Lord is my shepherd.

He’s the Lord. Lord’s are powerful. Lord’s often have land that they are Lord over. But he’s the maker of heaven and earth. So he’s the Lord over all the earth, he knows everything that goes on and is in control.

The Lord is my shepherd.

The Lord is my shepherd. So he’s the Lord, he’s powerful, he’s the maker of all I see, but he’s my shepherd. My. There is a closeness about our relationship. We’re connected somehow. I belong to him. I am his and he is mine. The maker of heaven and earth is my personal shepherd.  

The Lord is my shepherd.

What do shepherds do? Shepherds go running after stupid sheep who get lost, stuck and in trouble. Wow - so the creator of everything leaves it all to come running after me to lead me into safety. He’s powerful, and uses that power to rescue me. What else do shepherds do? They provide for their sheep with green pastures and fresh water. So not only is he powerful enough to rescue me, but he actually cares for me. He is my shepherd, but not begrudgingly, he wants the best for me. I can trust him. Trust him with my life. I wonder what I need help to trust him with today?

The Lord is my shepherd.

Do you get it? I just think about the phrase throughout the day, and with the help of the Spirit, add layers and layers of depth to a simple phrase. I find that it makes me very thankful and helps me to pray.

Why not give it a go today?

Try from one of these phrases or choose one of your own.

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble"
Psalm 46:1
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"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
Galatians 5:22-23
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For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7
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"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9
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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10
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Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6
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If they’re a bit long to remember, just choose a small phrase to chew over. Remember quality over quantity.

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