Reading The Bible More And Better In 2015, Part 1
We all need to read God’s Word more and better. If you have any doubt about that statement, consider the following:
We live in a world hell-bent on opposing God’s rule over all things.
We are sinners who are always susceptible to being deceived from without and from within.
We all have blind spots of understanding where sin is lurking.
During times of emotional or physical fatigue we are especially vulnerable to temptation.
Temptations toward self-righteousness and self-reliance are twice as deceptive during times of success and blessing.
Therefore, we simply must have God’s word constantly simmering in our mind; meditating on what is true, glorious, and eternal. The world has a plan for substituting its own version of what is true, glorious and eternal. And it has a media machine powered by a steady stream of art, marketing, technology; and all the money necessary to fund it.
What does the Christian have? He has God’s Word, God’s Spirit, and God’s people. And that is totally sufficient to overcome the world. What does John 5:4b say? “…and this is the victory that overcomes the world – our faith.” A Spirit-wrought faith in God’s Word; the Word which has been illumined by the Spirit and held forth by the pillar and support that is the church (1 Tim 3:15), will reject the world’s lies and expose them as such.
Since this is true, there simply is no substitute for reading God’s Word constantly, prayerfully, and meditatively. You cannot listen to enough sermons or attend enough small groups to match what you can get from regularly feeding on Scripture. Therefore, I want to encourage you to read the Bible more and better in 2015. Some of you need to read it more (quantity) and some of you need to read it better (quality).
Reading More (Quantity)
Do you need to read a higher quantity of scripture? Answering these questions may help you know:
1. Have you read the whole Bible?
2. Is the time period over which you read the whole Bible appropriate? (1-3 years is generally good. Over 3 years probably means you are reading too little or too slowly.)
3. Do all the books of the Bible get read regularly? (When was the last time you read the Minor Prophets? 2 John? Revelation?)
4. Do you have a defined system for your Bible reading?
5. Do you have a scheduled time when you read the Bible?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions you need to increase the quantity of your Scripture intake. There are a variety of reasons our Scripture intake tends to be too low. One of the most common reasons is a “no” answer to #5.
It is normal for believers to talk about a devotional time. There is a practical reason and a heart reason for this. The practical reason is that almost everything of importance is accomplished through scheduled, regular times of work/effort/focus. This is best stated by the following quote found in the book Manage Your Day-to-Day which says “We tend to overestimate what we can do in a short period, and underestimate what we can do over a long period, provided we work slowly and consistently.” If you daily read God’s word, you will read through the whole Bible every year or two. Even if you are not a fast reader this will be true. Why? Because those who do one thing consistently will find it accomplished constantly.
The heart reason, however, is of utmost importance. This reason says that a lack of disciplined Bible reading is really the result of a sinful sense of self-sufficiency. Why are you not reading more of God’s Word? Can you honestly say it is because you don’t have enough time? Or is it because you think you’ve got things figured out just enough so that you are not compelled to read God’s Word? You may never say out loud that you have things figured such that you don’t need God’s correcting, refining, directing, empowering word, but your day planner has exposed you! The reality is, you do need to be corrected, refined, directed, and empowered and that will only happen when you cry as a newborn babe for the pure spiritual milk of the Word.
So what do you do? Confess your sinful self-sufficiency. Schedule a time to be in God’s word and do what it takes to make it happen. This may necessitate going to bed earlier and getting up earlier and/or cutting some time-consuming activity (like T.V. or web surfing). Lastly, make sure you schedule enough time and have a Bible reading plan to use your time well. Here is a link to 15 different reading plans. http://www.ligonier.org/blog/bible-reading-plans/
Next week we will look at reading God’s Word better.