Have you read the Bible cover to cover? Good! But sadly, you’re in the minority. Do you make time for careful, reflective reading regularly? Even better! But that places you in an even greater minority, even among pastors.
That’s a bit disturbing, isn’t it? Most Christians not only claim to love God’s Word, but are quite adamant in their opinions about it — a book they have perhaps read only in part. They claim it as their guide and a light to their path. Yet, unread, it’s about as useful as a flashlight without batteries.
I came to the point, some years ago, of having to admit that I did not know the Scriptures as I should have.
Sure, I’d read the Bible through a few times. But I didn’t really know The Book. The one I claimed as a guide for my life. The one I touted as life-giving Word. And at best, I could only guess at the central theme of each of its books.
Now I certainly don’t think our salvation or God’s acceptance of us rests on how much we know. But our knowledge of his Word does affect our knowledge and understanding of him, and our spiritual growth.
Unlike anything else, the Bible can show us the way. And when we let it speak to us, it can:
- Point out our errors — and how God can help us overcome them.
- Show us when we’re doing well — and help us stay on that right path.
- Help us in life — when loneliness, fear, doubt, sickness, and even death overtake.
- Teach us the true meaning of life — and help us keep the secondary issues, like success, wealth, fame, and well-being in their right places.
- Reveal God in all his splendor and glory. And in all his love, truth, and holiness — through the person of Jesus Christ.
And by knowing HIM and his Word, we find abundant Life.
- Abundant wealth, even in the midst of abject poverty.
- Abundant peace, even in the worst war zones.
- Abundant grace, for even the worst sins.
- Abundant joy, in the midst of pain, suffering, and death.
- And abundant life, by finding real purpose and meaning.
“OK great,” you think, “I’m convinced. Actually, I already was, but now I’m even more convinced.”
“But I always seem to fail, in spite of all my good intentions!”
Rest assured that you are not alone. We wouldn’t be faced with such depressing statistics, otherwise. Bible reading and study, like prayer and fasting, is a form of battle. And everything seems to fight against our use of these weapons. Our own flesh (laziness, procrastination, excuses and justifications); the enemy (who knows it’s a sure path to growth); the world and all its distractions (TV, internet, smartphones, sports, entertainment, hobbies, and the list goes on and on).
And before we know it, weeks go by, then months. And we finish the year, once again, without sticking to regular, reflective reading.
As I said, you’re not alone. I struggle with this too, as I imagine most Christians do. So what do we do? What can we do?
Find a plan that works for you, and then make the commitment to stick to it. Why not visit Bible Study Tools.com where you can choose from various reading plans, devotionals, and studies. It really helps to make use of the many great tools that are out there!
Failure to plan is planning to fail.
I repeat that often, I know, about Bible reading and study. But it’s true. If you’re like most people, without a clear plan to follow you just fail to do these things. And then, if you’re like me, you feel bad. Because you know you should be doing better.
As pastors, we’ve had long time Christians ask us why they’re not growing in their faith. Because sometimes they see new Christians who, running with zeal, quickly pass them by. Why? Because they have a hunger for more of God and his Word.
But did you know hunger needs feeding?
People who have done hunger strikes or long fasts, say that after a certain point, the hunger just disappears. You feel no need or want of food. And physically, that’s actually a dangerous point. Spiritual hunger is the same. The less spiritual food we take in, the less we want. Until finally, with all want for it gone, our spiritual growth wanes. And our spiritual life is endangered.
With the result of anemic, underfed Christians (like I was) running around. Who are also often the most adamant about what they think they know. But I didn’t want to behave that way, and I’m sure you don’t either.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth, (2 Timothy 2:15).
These words of Paul to Timothy apply to us today too. How can we rightly apply God’s Word to our lives if we don’t really know it? And how can we convince others of its importance, when our own lives don’t prove it?
But mostly, how can we really know the Lord — the One who loves us most, and who longs to spend time with us — without meeting him among the pages of his book?
God’s Word brings Life, and by studying it we learn our Father’s heart.
I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life, (Psalm 119:93).