Seeing the Forest

treesHave you heard the phrase “Can’t see the forest for the trees”? It’s a metaphor used to describe the idea of being so focused on the details that you can’t see the big picture. This is a common image in our lives today but have you ever thought of this in terms of our approach to the Bible? We live in a sound bite world and if we’re not careful it will hinder how we understand God’s Word. Little snippets of information, a Bible verse here, a Sunday School story there. It is possible to be so focused on the individual verses or stories that we fail to see the grand scope of the story of redemption. Don’t get me wrong; I am not undermining the value of diving in deep on a smaller passage or even one verse. I am simply saying we need to include in our Bible reading larger chunks of scripture, whole books at a time.

The typical protest is a lack the time. Let me dispel that idea. We have plenty of time and it doesn’t take anywhere near as long as you think. In fact of the 66 books of the Bible, read at an average reader’s rate of words per minute (250), half of them can be read in 30 minutes or less. Even more surprising is that the majority of those can be read in under 15 minutes. Compare that with the amount of time you spend on the Internet. So clearly the issue is not time. Maybe you need some help seeing the forest for the trees! Here is a helpful way to read whole books of the Bible in one sitting using the acrostic T.R.E.E.S.

T – THEMES – What are the overarching themes? Love, joy, God’s provision, false teachers, etc.

R – REDEMPTIVE HISTORY – Where does this book fit in redemptive history? Is it before Christ’s first coming? After the Kings? Early Church? What significant changes happen in this book?

E – EXHORTATION – What does this book require of you? What are you challenged to do?

E – ENCOURAGEMENT – How are you encouraged? In what ways is your faith and understanding of Jesus strengthened?

S – SAVIOR – Where do you see Jesus in this book? How does it proclaim the good news of His work as your savior? Does it speak of his role as Prophet, Priest or King?

Take a look at the chart below for a full list of each book of the Bible and the length of time it takes to read. Choose one to read in its entirety. It’s ok to start small, just get in the habit of reading whole books to help you better understand the big picture of the Bible and be able to see the forest for trees.

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Author: Rev. Wes Andrews
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