A 14 year old boy and a 13 year old girl.
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Hi Melissa, So we have a 16 and 13 year-old. As I see it, it depends on what they’ve been around in their young lives when it comes to Bible reading and discipleship, etc… If they’re the ones asking where to start, then it’s easy to give a recommendation. I’d say gospel of John and then go from there through Acts and Romans. Great place to flow from there. Jumping into Psalms and Proverbs would be great to include, as well. If you’re hoping to get them to read the word, then ideally your personal love for God’s word is paramount; your internal wonder of God and how amazing His word is can be shared by you in your daily life. And then you can have family Bible reading time together. So when our kids see us being impacted, then they’ll see and be motivated, as well. Whether they show it or not, they are watching us … always. Again, if they’re not into it, but you want to suggest it, I’d only suggest it to them if they are seeing your personal submission to Him. Otherwise, kids see the incongruencies in us. I doubt this is the case since you’re asking this question, but wanted to be sure I mentioned it. With that said, I still say the gospel of John first, with Acts and Romans to follow. I’ve found that my personal walk has been the most influencing thing for my own kids’ walks with the Lord.
My children are the same age. I started with David and Goliath. I knew that there was a place I could relate to them on a practical sense as to what giants they were facing in their every day lives.
Michael has said in one of his other 2 websites (gotquestions.com and compellingtruth.com, by the way), that “The Gospel of Mark is quick and fast-paced and is a good place to start.” I agree, then go on to read the other gospels about the life and ministry of our loving Savior Jesus Christ. Pick a good translation such as J.B. Phillips translation of the New Testament -- Phillips New Testament in Modern English (Phi): -- I did as a teen and profited spiritually -- (While the translation is not well known it has many ardent fans including Os Guinness, Chuck Swindoll, and Ray Stedman. Corrie ten Boom considered it her favorite in English. Or Extreme Teen Bible: Nelson's Extreme Teen Bible delivers just what teens are looking for: real answers to life's tough questions. The Manga Bible is my favorite, though, and I'm a kid at heart (though this New Living Translation reading plan --the 365 Day Reading Plan-- doesn’t include every chapter and verse, it offers a complete view of Scripture and does so without being overwhelming. By not repeating material that appears more than once, it gives the teen, or any reader, for that matter, a streamlined view of the entire Bible.)
I would like to suggest a different approach. In my view, in many Christian families we lose our teenagers and young adults to the culture of our world, because we don't answer the "WHY" questions for them. I will use 2 questions as examples. Why should I believe in God? Teenagers can read through the stories of the bible without ever encountering the "NATURE AND CHARACTER" of God. This is why the bible was written, so we could come to know God in a personal, intimate away. The nature of God includes: complexity, eternity, incarnation, infinity, immensity, immutability, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, reality, self-sufficiency, simplicity, totality, and unity. The character of God includes: able, accessible, available, beautiful, changeless, complete, creative, excellent, faithful, forgiving, generous, glorious, good, gracious, great, healthful, holy, infinite, invincible, joyful, just, kind, knowing, loving, majestic, measureless, merciful, mighty, patient, peaceful, powerful, present, radiant, reliable, responsive, righteous, secure, sovereign, spotless, stable, steadfast, strong, sufficient, timeless, truthful, unique, victorious, wise, and vwonderful. There are good online and book resources that provide bible references for all these attributes of God. Why should I allow God to control my life? This reveals the purpose of the Christian life which is beautifully illustrated; 1) in in the four gospel books that reveal the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, and, 2) in the book of Acts that reveals the life of the early church. We need to challenge our teenagers to "be on mission" from God. To allow God to guide and direct them to accomplish his good purposes. To see God at work through them to transform the people and world around them. To experience the transformation that God brings into their own lives. Then their faith will become rock-solid, genuine and authentic. Then Jesus will use them mightily to expand his kingdom on earth.
If they have grown up in the church and been exposed to the gospel that changes the approach a little. John is a good place to start (it was written to the world) Proverbs (our kids when teens were challenged to read from Proverbs daily) Ecclesiastes (reading the last 6 verses with each study) Offer a quarter for each new verse they memorize and quote to you. (One man I talked to memorized much of Proverbs when young because his parents rewarded him that way.)
Where to start in reading the bible can be a hard question. Before reading the bible an overview of it;s fundamentals leading to what we as Christians believe is important. For example 1. The OT shows God created our universe in 6 literal days, how sin entered the world shortly after and how God addressed our sin-mediated separation from Him. He did this by selecting a people through whom Our Savior, the promised Messiah, would come to rescue us from our sin nature. 2. The rest of the OT shows how our sins caused our struggles and us to drift away repeatedly from God and how God continually rescued us when we turned away from Him. The OT prophets, through the Holy Spirit, gave us glimpses of our Savior and His plan for our salvation. 3. In the NT we have the promised coming of Our Savior Jesus Christ. We learn that He is fully God and fully man and salvation and the way back to God is fully through Him alone. The epistles in the NT emphasize that salvation is not works based but through faith in the saving works of Christ at Calvary, called Grace. Christ was the culmination or fulfillment of the OT prophecies of the coming Messiah. Hopefully, with this background, bible reading will make more sense wherever you may start. Always take God's word literally and don't be swayed by secular or popular thinking like science has proved the bible wrong (it hasn't) or the bible was written thousands of years ago and doesn't apply today (human's sinful nature is still the same). For a good faith foundation, it is wise to do a structured bible study in a church that is bible based.
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