Want to really grow in your Christian walk? Then may I encourage you to really get into the Bible. These sixty-six books of scripture are a treasure trove, a compass, a life map, an awesome adventure, a storehouse of promises, a guidebook for the most amazing life you can ever live. Too often the Bible is seen as a collection of antiquated writings that have little relevance for modern life. Wrong. The Bible is scripture inspired by God, written with human hands but imbibed by the Holy Spirit. Jesus is known as Logos, the word made flesh. The words of God are the most powerful and effective tool that we can use to change our lives and our world. They bring hope, comfort, peace and protection.
If you want to read the Bible, don't settle for some namby-pamby little resource that looks at an odd verse, shares a pretty story and that's your task done for the day. Don't fall into the "Bible reading plan" mode where you read two Old Testament Chapters and one New Testament chapter each day and again, task finished. Would you read a novel like that? No, you'd delight in spending hours reading chapter after chapter. God didn't design the Bible to be a dutiful regime to follow, nor an onerous obligation to fulfill daily "No Bible, no breakfast".
I love it when I see Bibles sitting around in people's homes, as though they've been picked up and put down regularly as a part of that person's life. When I see a Bible next to a person's bed, I suspect that the owner has a close relationship with God. (I notice these things because I work in community health and often see people in their bedrooms). A Bible sitting untouched in a bookcase is a sad thing. An even sadder one is a home without a Bible at all. Of course, today with the advent of technology, there is a plethora of Biblical resources available, including audio Bibles.
So get into the Bible! Choose a book or series of books within its pages and read as much or as little at one sitting as you're comfortable with. You can get a broad picture of events by reading a lot, or you can reflect on meanings and personal impact by reading just a few lines. I would suggest it's helpful to have some basic references as you tackle each book. There are lots of commentaries available online which will give an outline of the book - who wrote it, the history surrounding it, particular reasons why it was written, and elaboration of some of the elements contained in the book. There are plenty of online Bible which contain explanations as you read of some of the elements. Bible.net has footnotes which explain some of the terms used.
If you're a new Christian, sometimes a children's Bible or book of Bible stories can provide basic background information before reading. New Christians should perhaps start with one or all of the gospel accounts of Jesus' life - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and then have a look at Genesis to see how it all began. The first five books of the Bible describe how God gave the law to His people. This is followed later in the Old Testament by the books of the prophets who foretold the coming of their Messiah, Jesus Christ. The New Testament contains the four gospel accounts of Jesus' life and death and resurrection. This is followed by the book of Acts, which describes the establishment of the early Christian churches; and by the epistles- letters written by Jesus' disciples to the churches for their encouragement and teaching about how to live a Christian life. The final book of the Bible, Revelation, describes visions given to the apostle John regarding times of great trial which will be a precursor to Christ's return to earth to claim those people who are Christians and defeat the evil which will be very prominent at the time. In this sense, the Bible is a history book of the world, past, present and future.
For the past few weeks I've been enjoying reading through the Bible in conjunction with a series of teaching sermons available on Youtube. The late pastor Chuck Smith founder of the Calvary Chapel association of churches has made a series of sermons on the entire Bible, book by book, going through each book thoroughly. Each sermon is devoted to a specified number of chapters in the particular book, so one can read these chapters and then listen. I've found it a really good way to learn. So far I've covered the first five books of the Bible, as well as a couple of New Testament Epistles. Fifty nine more books to go! I hope by this time next year, I'll be able to say I've listened to the whole series.
I've certainly read through the entire Bible before, but one thing is for sure - I will never tire of it. It's God's "living word" containing His truths which are constantly being revealed to us. I really delight to discover fresh insights, both from his word and from reading what others have discovered about it.
I pray that God will bless your endeavours to discover more about Him in this coming year.