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Read the Bible

The Bible contains the story of Jesus, His teachings, and more.

If you want to know Him, read the Bible. From the creation of the world to what's coming next, this is where you'll find it.

If you're new to the Bible, here is a quick snapshot:

The Bible is a collection of 66 different books. It includes different types of writing—poetry, history, law, letters, etc.

The first 39 books—the Old Testament—are things that happened before Jesus was born.

The last 27 books—the New Testament—are things that happened after Jesus was born.

Books are separated into chapters and verses. John 3:16 | John = book, 3 = chapter, 16 = verse

It's not necessary to read the Bible front-to-back like you would another book. You can, but it's okay to skip around, too.

Now that you have a basic understanding of what the Bible is, it's time to start reading!

Starter Reading Plan

These five short devotionals are designed to help you start digging in. Read one per day. As you read, note what each passage says about you and about God.

. . . suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.” In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents. —Luke 15:8–10

Have you ever lost something precious—your pet, your phone, your keys? What about a full day’s pay? That’s how much this lost coin is worth. This woman isn’t going to just take her other nine coins and “get over” the lost one—it has significant value. She’s so upset she ransacks her own house trying to find it.

When she finally finds the missing coin, she shares the good news with her friends and neighbors, and they all celebrate together. Their joy is palpable.

But all that for a missing coin?

Luke 15 is full of “lost and found” stories. This coin, like the other missing things, represents a person who has returned to a relationship with God. Let’s look at verse 10 again—“In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”

When you lose something—whether it’s your phone, your keys, or your child—you become obsessed with finding it. In this story, you are what’s been lost, and God has been pursuing you, ready to do whatever it takes to bring you home. You are the missing coin, the prize. God loves you so much, and there’s joy in heaven because of your decision to follow Him.

Think about that for a minute—how far God is willing to go for you. You’re worth the time, the cost, everything. Your decision to follow Him has brought Him joy.

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. —Romans 8:31–39

Many try to please God, spending their entire lives working hard to do things “right” and earn His favor. After all, that’s how it works in the world. Work hard, earn respect and favor from the boss, friends, and family. Do something wrong and you’re out. No do-overs and no take backs. But you can live securely in the love God has for you right now. Nothing required from you.

This doesn’t mean we can just claim God’s love and do whatever we want. (One way God shows His love is by giving us boundaries that protect us. Read the rest of Romans 8 to learn about some of those.)

We are marked by His love. Marked in such a way that nothing—nothing—can separate us from the love that caused a holy, righteous God to send his Son to earth to die for all mankind. God created you for so much more than striving. His plan for your life is better than any worldly ideal or cultural standard.

Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” “But sir, you don’t have a rope or bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed? Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again and won’t have to come here to get water.” “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. “I don’t have a husband,” the woman said. “You’re right! You don’t have a husband—for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!” “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet” . . . “—John 4:6–19

The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah!” Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, “What do you want with her?” or “Why are you talking to her?” The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone. “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” So the people came streaming from the village to see him.—John 4:25–30

We have plenty of reason to believe the woman Jesus met at the well knew the shame of being a second-class citizen. First, she was a woman. Second, she was Samaritan. Jews didn’t talk to Samaritans. Third, because she had been married five times and wasn’t married to the man she was living with, many scholars believe she had a reputation for promiscuity, which would have been a big deal in her community. Fourth, she was at the well in the middle of the day, and that would have been unusual. Women typically gathered for water in the mornings or in the evenings, when it was cooler. But despite all those things, Jesus approached her.

It’s no wonder she was surprised by their interaction. She probably spent her days being ignored or even ridiculed, and here was a Jewish man promising to give her living water. She leapt at the offer and ran to tell others about what had just happened.

Not only did Jesus talk to her in the first place, he reached out to her despite what he knew about her life. He does that for us, too. He loves us regardless of where we’ve come from or what we’ve done. That’s good news! And like the woman at the well shared it with her community, that good news is worth sharing with the people around you, too.

Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith! Then he got up and rebuked the wind and the waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!”—Matthew 8:23–27

The men who followed Jesus—his disciples—weren’t that different from us. These guys were professionals, fishing and sailing every day. Storms were a regular part of their job. Their emotional breakdown over the weather would be like a pastor not having words to preach, a barista forgetting how to brew coffee, or a parent stymied over what to do with a dirty diaper.

But we’ve all had our moments, right? Sometimes whatever we’re facing just feels like too much. That’s what happened with the disciples. They’re soaked in water—and fear—and the weight of it causes them to cry out for help.

God isn’t bothered by our freak-out moments. He understands that we’re humans who experience fear. He wants us to know the peace he brings by being in the boat with us—that’s something the disciples forgot in the moment. Sometimes God speaks peace to the waves in our lives, and sometimes he lets us develop strength and perseverance as we learn to row through life’s storms. But either way, remember this—as a follower of Jesus, you don’t have to go out on the water alone anymore. God is always with you.

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). The man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized? And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.—Acts 8:26–39

When no one’s around and you need information, you can figure almost anything out with a quick Google search. But over 2000 years ago, the Ethopian eunuch’s options were limited. He wouldn’t get answers to his questions unless God provided.

Enter Philip. He’s been busy sharing the Good News about Jesus in Samaria after religious persecution at home caused him and the disciples to spread out and share in new places. When an angel tells him, “Go south,” he doesn’t question it—he starts walking.

When the eunuch needs help understanding what he’s reading in the Scriptures, Philip gets another message from God—“Go to that chariot and stay near it.” God provided a solution for the eunuch not before or after, but at the exact moment he needed it.

You’ve recently said “yes” to Jesus and are on the same journey of understanding that the Ethiopian eunuch was on. You may get stuck occasionally, but with the resources we’re offering you (these devotions, the Beginnings study, and Sunday messages), God can provide answers to your questions about faith. He’ll meet you on your own desert road and won’t abandon you without understanding. Like the eunuch, you can experience God’s perfect timing and provision for your needs—all of them.

Use S.O.A.P.

You know about prayer and reading the Bible, but there are other things that can help you grow in your relationship with Jesus, too.

S.O.A.P. is a method of Bible reading and journaling that can be used with any Bible reading plan. This simple practice can help you to grow in your faith and understanding of the Bible. Learning and applying what you've read is a necessary part of your relationship with God. It affects every area of your life.

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." —2 Timothy 3:16-17

S | Ask God to show you something when you read. Write down the SCRIPTURE that stuck out to you.

O | Write down any OBSERVATIONS you had when you read. What seemed odd? What didn’t make sense? What “wowed” you?

A | Write about how you can APPLY the passage to your life today.

P | PRAY and write down what you prayed about. It’s exciting to write down your prayers and watch as God responds!

What's next?

When you've finished with the Starter Reading Plan, find out what to read next.