This is that fateful time of the year that we reflect back on those significant resolutions we made three and a half whole weeks ago. We realize that we have broken several of them (or all of them!), and wonder if we should bother with trying to keep up with them any more. “Oh well,” you say, “maybe next year I’ll do better.”
Even as I write these words, I am struck by the foolishness of the logic that we sometimes use. If a resolution was important enough to work on three or four weeks ago, why is it not important enough to begin again today? In our own strength we will always fail, but crying out to God for divine help, we can change by God’s grace and for God’s glory.
After coming to Jesus Christ by faith, there is almost nothing more important in this life than your intake of the Bible. As God’s Word, the Bible is God’s inspired self-revelation. It contains all we need to see our sinfulness and come to Jesus in the first place. But it also contains all we need for the Christian life.
It teaches us the right way to walk, it confronts us when we stray, it puts us back on the right road, and it keeps us on the path that leads to Christ likeness and to Christ himself in heaven. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.”
You should be actively involved in a church where you are learning God’s truth in a profound way. I hope as you eat your Sunday lunch each week, you are in awe of what you learned about God, and the various ways that it will change your life throughout the week. Even more than for Sunday lunch, a feast of God’s Word is your most essential nutrition of the day. How much better if you can also have another biblical buffet on Sunday night.
Even if you are faithfully serving in such a church, two expositions of God’s Word is not nearly enough spiritual food for a growing Christian. I hope regular Bible reading was one of your resolutions for 2019. If it wasn’t, it certainly is not too late to add it to your list. If you realized the significance of the Scriptures, but have already failed to faithfully read, don’t give up. Re-resolve to regularly read God’s Word. Let me give you a few suggestions to refine that resolution, and by God’s grace this time next year you will be profoundly different because of your saturation with the Scriptures.
First, have a PLAN. It’s far better to have a Bible reading plan when you sit down to read, then to just open it up randomly, then point and read. It does not really matter which plan you pick, as much as it matters to have one. You can read through the Bible in a year. Many Study Bibles include such a plan (if you don’t have a Study Bible, I recommend the ESV Study Bible and the MacArthur Study Bible). Many websites include such schedules as well.
Another plan is to read 5 Psalms and one chapter in Proverbs each day. That will take you through both books in a month. You could also just read a short book of the Bible straight through once a day for 30 days in a row (like 1 John or Philippians). You will really begin to understand the flow of the book, and many familiar isolated verses will come to life in a fresh way within their proper context. This plan can also be modified to take half of a longer book for 30 days, and then take the other half the following month.
Another refinement in your resolution is to have a PLACE. As simple as it sounds, reading and praying in the same time and the same place each day is a big help to consistency. Maybe it is at the kitchen table before the kids wake up. Perhaps it is in your car in your company’s parking lot at lunch or before work starts. Again, which place you choose is not as important as having one.
Third, have a PREPARED HEART. The Bible is not just any old book, so we should not read it as such. We should come affirming it as God’s inspired truth. We should ask God to help us see, understand, and apply his glorious truth to our lives. The Psalmist cried out, “Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Thy Law,” (Psalm 119:18). If you have a question about a book, the most useful thing you could do is ask the author to help you understand the book. Ask the Author to help you understand his Book!
Fourth, read your Bible with a PEN. Write down your observations from a verse, a paragraph, a chapter, or even a book of the Bible. Write down key words to look up in a Bible dictionary. Note any questions that you have about what you have. Then search out the answers in a Study Bible, commentary, or a trusted Christian friend. You will be amazed how much more you will see with a pen in hand.
Finally, leave your Bible reading with a PURPOSE. Do not just read for reading’s sake. Do not just read God’s inspired Word as an academic exercise. Read to know God and his ways. If you discover a sin you need to confess—do it. If there is a command to obey or an example to follow—do it. If you find a principle that needs to be applied—take the time to practically apply the teaching that you have read. Did you find out that God was bigger and more glorious than you ever imagined? Worship him accordingly!
Someone has said that it is not how many times you go through the Bible that makes the difference, but how many times the Bible goes through you. Make 2019 a year filled with God and his Word. Tape together your broken resolutions and begin again the hard work of knowing God and becoming like him through a regular time in God’s Word.
By John Crotts