My church has collectively read through the book of Acts together. We read a chapter a day for the month of November, or we read it in bits and pieces, but the point is we all read it. Many people, myself included, had never read Acts as if it were a story. We were all happily surprised to find out that Acts was actually fun, fast-paced, and page-turning (if you think I'm crazy, you probably haven't read Acts like it was a story). This was baffling to me, because when I had read random snip-it's and chapters of Acts in the past, it was all just okay and somewhat boring. I experienced this same enigma last summer when I was challenged to read three chapters of John a day for three weeks. I had no idea how interesting, fun, and page-turning John was! It was also the first time I had faithfully read, I mean really read, my Bible. But it wasn't the last. Except for a few week-long dry spells, it's been hard to not read my Bible each day. Once I realized how powerful, exhilarating, and influential the Words of God were to my life, I couldn't help but read them.
Through my reading-based studies of sections of the Bible, I have realized something. When you read a specific section of the Bible as it were written instead of in random, broken pieces, it becomes even more alive. In the past, I had read all of John, but not in order. Sure, parts of John were fun to read, but it was all a giant bore. But once I had read all of John in order in a short amount of time, it leaped off the page. What happens is we read a specific verse, take John 3:16 for example, without the supporting verses to support it. When I see John 3:16 on a poster or billboard, it seems lifeless. But what happens when I read the first two chapers, the previous 15 verses, then the rest of chapter 3? John 3:16 leaps off the page. I love it when this happens! When something leaps off the page, it tens to slap me in the face, or numb me with stark realization, or shake me to pieces. The impression left upon you from the verses and chapters surrounding that one verse elevate that verse's meaning and importance in an incredible fashion that only God can have a hand in.
When you listen to the radio, you'll hear songs called "singles." These are songs that come from an album, which carries around a dozen songs on average. Let's say you've heard three or four radio singles by one specific band over the years, and think you know that band. But when you pick up that band's last album, the music is totally different than on the radio. Why? Because the radio singles were the only songs on that album that were "radio songs."
It's the same with the Bible. We can read a verse or a chapter and think we know it, but until we've read the few chapters before and after, we really don't know. We have to read and study the Bible in it's entirety, or we can't know the Bible.