I remember the first time my wife and I visited Thailand. We went as tourists. We visited the glittering palaces and old temples, toured the canals of Bangkok and, for the first time, saw rice being planted.
It was a bit intimidating to us - the heat, the crowds, the unfamiliar food - so we would often retreat to the predictable atmosphere of our hotel's coffee shop for a cold drink and a hamburger.
I've gone back to Thailand many times since then. I don't even feel like a tourist anymore. Thailand has become just another place to work and get things done. But you know, even though Thailand no longer seems mysterious, it has become even more fascinating and enjoyable. I'm always noticing more details - things a tourist would never notice. Every time I visit Thailand, I find it more interesting.
The Bible is like that.
Most people who live in the Western world have "visited" the Bible occasionally. Maybe it was in Sunday school or church, or maybe they leafed through just to see what was in it.
Perhaps they recognized some of the "famous sights" - Daniel in the lion's den, David and Goliath and, of course, Jesus in the manger. They probably couldn't find them again without a guide, but at least they've been there.
But a quick visit usually convinces most people that they will never really understand the Bible, and they quickly retreat to more familiar territory.
Are you like that? If so, you need to come to know this book, which is God's inspired Word. You need to visit it again and again until you feel at home there, and more important, so you can get some useful work done.
Don't be satisfied with a superficial tour. Here are some suggestions to help you make God's Word familiar territory.
Know your way around Be able to find your way about without having to look at the map every five minutes (that's the surest sign of a tourist). Most people know that the Bible is divided into different books. Determine to remember where those books are. A good way to practice getting around is to always look up the scripture references in Good News and Plain Truth articles.
But don't just look and hurry on. Tourists do that. Ask yourself some questions.
Why did David kill Goliath? Why was Daniel put in the lion's den? God says the prophets are examples for Christians today (James 5:10). Why? And why are Paul's epistles called Corinthians, Ephesians and Colossians?
If you know something about the background, the lessons contained in the books really. start coming to life.
Use the Bible God gave us the Bible to instruct us in how to live (II Timothy 3:16-17). So, as you face problems in life, go often to the Bible for advice and help.
One of the best ways to get to know a new place is to have a guided tour. Not just a superficial ride around on a bus, but a thorough tour with someone who knows the territory.
The Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course will take you on a carefully planned tour of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. You will discover the Bible's real message and how to apply it to your life today.
Thousands of students have found this course to be an interesting and reliable guide. And it is free!