Recently I’ve been trying to read my Bible more. I’ve read through it cover to cover before, but something inspired me to read it again as part of a daily reading plan.
It was my Swiss Army knife.
“If you abide in My word,” Jesus said, “you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”1 We all know that consistent time reading and meditating on God’s Word, along with prayer and hearing God’s still small voice, is critical to our spiritual health and fruitfulness. But sometimes we aren’t as consistent as we would like in doing those things. We skip our Bible reading, we hurry through prayer time, and we put off seeking God’s counsel on important matters.
A few years ago, it came to me that I had a superficial relationship with the Bible. I was a bit taken aback, since I had spent my entire life as a follower of the Bible. I knew many verses, stories, and interpretations like the back of my hand, but I realized there was a whole lot of stuff I had no idea about.
How will reading God’s Word make your life better?
Food for spiritual strength and growth. Just as your body needs food to survive and grow strong, your spirit needs spiritual nourishment from God’s Word. This little analogy crops up repeatedly in both the Old and New Testaments:
The first time I ever held a Bible was as a little girl sitting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. I opened the first pages and read until the story of Cain and Abel, the first murder in history. Oh, this is scary! thought my little grade school mind. Then as a teenager, I picked up the Bible again and decided to start from the end this time! So I began reading the book of Revelation. This is some really weird stuff! I thought, and once again, I closed the book, no more enlightened than I had been.
In the second half of Matthew chapter 6, Jesus focuses on our relationship to material things. He begins by teaching the right priorities and attitudes about material possessions:
I was 21 when I read the Bible for the first time. Someone had suggested I read the Gospel of John first, but I knew so little about the Bible at the time that I didn’t understand the Gospels were four separate accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry. So I started at what seemed the more logical place, at the beginning of the New Testament, with the Gospel of Matthew.
My good friends Frank and Lisa were manning a stall with various gospel books on display. They were also giving out tracts to those passing by. One man stopped, looked at the table, and exclaimed, “Oh, Christian stuff!? I’m an atheist!” My friends just smiled and struck up a conversation, without confronting him on that basis. They spoke about art (the man’s sister was an artist) and hiking, life, and the economy, and just generally tried to be encouraging and positive.
One day, while browsing in a bookshop, I came across an encyclopedia with a section of Bible-related articles. I was curious to see how a secular scholar might depict the great men and women of the Bible, so I began to read some of the short biographies—the prophets Daniel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah; King David; Samson; the apostles Matthew, Peter, and Paul.
In my quest to know Jesus better, I have come to the simple conclusion that reading the Gospels regularly and trying to put His teachings and example into practice is the easiest and most accessible way to do that. So for the last few years, I’ve been reading a devotional that features a text from the Gospels for every day of the year. If I thought I already knew the Gospels well, this exercise completely ousted that idea! Almost every day, I am surprised, unsettled, convicted, inspired, and moved by the words and deeds of the Master.