Open to the Spirit

How to read the Bible

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs.

How to read the Bible...

I think for many people the Bible is something of an enigma. Much of it can appear very complex, backwards or just plain boring.

When I studied university one of my Biblical studies lecturers spoke to us about the importance of reading the Bible devotionally. Of course, the Bible can be unpacked in great depth, and there is all manner of opinion regarding the context and tone with which certain phrases were used. But the Bible is still the first and foremost way that God speaks to us.

The writer of Hebrews says, "The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Paul says, "Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ" (Romans 10.17). The Bible is sometimes mistakenly viewed as a fusty old book but there's nothing remote about the change that it brings about. Through the Bible, God challenges people and brings to faith those who are seeking him.

The Bible's pages are full of ancient people's lives transformed. Today we see the same stories of transformation played out repeatedly amongst us. This is the excitement that this book brings. That through its message we see change played out not only in its pages but also in the lives of people that we know.

So how can we read the Bible devotionally?

This is called S.O.A.P. It's a way of reading the Bible that helps me to intentionally open and expectant towards God.


S: Scripture Open your Bible to your reading for the day. Take your time reading and expect God to speak to you. When you are done, look for a verse that particularly stood out, and write it in somewhere, perhaps in your journal if you have one.

O: Observation What do you think God is saying to you in this scripture? Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and reveal something of Jesus do you?

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

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

Try it with one of these:

James 2:14-19
Jonah 1
2 Corinthians 5:17
Psalm 139
Matthew 14:13-21        

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