When I first got saved, the bible seemed too large, too long, too difficult to ever read from cover to cover, let alone understand.
~ Jerry Falwell
I remind you that God wrote a Book; and He only wrote one. I wonder what we’ll say to Him at the Judgment Seat of Christ if He asks us, “Did you read My Book? I mean one time in your entire life did you read My whole Book?”
“There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual strength for labour in his service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. . . . Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord. . . .”
― Charles H. Spurgeon
“It ain’t the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it’s the parts that I do understand.”― Mark Twain
The Bible is the killer app for the Christian life, nothing is more important to your spiritual growth than the time you spend with God through its pages. Nothing even comes close to it when it comes to spiritual growth.
If your local ice cream shop could only sell one flavor, it would sell vanilla. Why, because it’s more than twice as popular as any other flavor they have! The runner up – chocolate, is also twice as popular as any other flavor, except vanilla. These two flavors alone make up the bulk of their sales.
In the same way, Bible reading makes up the biggest portion of spiritual growth factors—it outranks every other one so significantly, that it is not simply an essential practice, but THE essential practice in our spiritual journeys. Reflection on Scripture is the #1 predictor of spiritual growth. It always has been. And there’s never been a time when it has been easier to spend quality time with God through the Bible than today. We have it in a dozen English translations and tools on our computers, phones, tablets, hotel rooms, and in Bibles all around us.
The Bible is big and complex, and we are going to unpack Bible study tools as well as talk about the overall flow of the Old and New Testament in the future, but I don’t want the complexity of this book to keep you from reading it and talking to God. I want you to tackle parts that you can understand and appreciate, and let me help you with the harder parts as we go along. What you need to know and work with right now, is the fact that the Bible is true and trustworthy in its entirety…and that God will speak to you through it if you’ll let Him.
I want you to take one of two tools: a written Bible reading plan, or a YouVersion plan, and I want you to read through it with someone: your coach, another mentor, a spouse, or a friend. Someone to help you keep on track. Here are the plans I recommend:
YouVersion’s CCV The Bible in One Year
The Bible Reading Checklist – Start where you want, check off what you read until the sheet is full.
I would also suggest that you get a study Bible like The Life Application Study Bible. You can use the introductions for the books of the Bible and the notes at the bottom of the page to help clarify things that were confusing when you were reading.
The key to staying on track so often in your time with God is forcing yourself to reflect upon what you have learned. So many of us are overwhelmed with information and we fall into the trap of letting it touch us in the moment, but forgetting about it soon after that moment has passed. To do this with Scripture is the great danger of this discipline. You don’t get points with God for working hard—you build a relationship by letting Him speak to you in ways that will demand that you remember and change your life to fit the lessons He teaches. Jesus brother, James, described this danger like this:
22 But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works — this person will be blessed in what he does. (Jas 1:22-25, HCSB)
Take the journal that I passed along in our first meeting together and begin to use it to conclude your time with God each day. Don’t feel as if you have to fill a page or write eloquently…simply summarize and record what you are hearing God talk about. Use it as a tool to solidify what you’ve heard God say that morning. You can also create notes in YouVersion where you can record your thoughts, and even share them with friends. It’s a great way to keep your faith in the public arena for better discussion and accountability.
You might also consider buying a pack of 3×5 cards and keeping them where you spend time with God. It’s great to write down a key verse from your reading that day and keep it with you on a card throughout the day, where you can look back at it often.
The best question you can answer as a part of your homework for 301 on any given week or in any conversation is simply:
“What is God teaching me this week?”
Also answer this one this week: What parts of the Bible are most difficult for me to read? Why?
“The Bible is the greatest of all books ever penned by men; to study it diligently is the most worthy of all possible pursuits; to clearly understand what the Lord is saying to us through its pages is truly the most noble and the highest of my goals. The application to my heart, mind, and spirit of the truths of the Word of God through the Holy Spirit’s gift of understanding and my subsequent obedience to that revelation is my supreme purpose and duty.” (Found in an old Bible in England)
End Msg 1 of 2 for this week.
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