Last week I wrote about the importance of the Spiritual Discipline of Bible intake; that is, hearing God’s Word. This week I want us to focus on a second way to have Bible intake by reading God’s Word.  We need to discipline ourselves to read the Bible. Jesus often asked questions about people’s understanding of the Scriptures, beginning with the words, “Have you not read …?”  He assumed that those claiming to be the people of God would have read the Word of God. When Jesus said these words in Matthew 4:4, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”, surely, He intended at the very least for us to read “every word.” Since II Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness”, shouldn’t we read it?

Remember this: If you want to be changed, if you want to become more like Jesus Christ, discipline yourself to read the Bible for heart transformation. In Hebrews 4:12 we read these words about the Word of God, “For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as to divide soul, spirit, joints, and marrow; it is a judge of the ideas and thoughts of the heart.”  For the Bible to infiltrate us, we need to come to the reading of the Bible in the following three ways.  First, come with a sense of Holy Expectancy. When reading the Bible, we need to expect God to meet us in the written words.

Second, we need to come Attentively by reading the Bible on its own terms.  We need to remember that the Bible is a story of God’s divine purposes being worked out through the messiness and sprawl of human history.  It tells about a vast array of characters and events.  It is a grand story of God’s dealing with human beings.  It is better to read chunks of the Bible instead of just isolated verses here and there.

Third, we need to come Humbly with an open mind and an inquiring heart expecting to encounter the living God when reading the Bible.  Reading with a constant attitude of repentance helps us turn away from our own perspectives so that we can seek God’s perspective.  Perhaps even begin your time of reading the Bible with a few minutes of prayerful silence.  Invite God to speak to you through His written words.

Since I know we are all busy and often feel we can’t find the time for this Spiritual Discipline, here are a few practical suggestions for consistent success in reading the Bible.  First, find the time, and don’t get discouraged!  The Bible is a long book, but it can be read.  Read at your pace. Discipline yourself to find the time to read the Bible.

Second, find a Bible-reading plan.  Many inexpensive Bible reading plans are available.  Find one that works for you.  I prefer to read 3 chapters in the Old Testament and 1 chapter in the New Testament each day.  That works for me and enables me to read through the Bible each year.   What works for you?

Third, find at least one word, phrase, or verse to meditate on each time you read the Bible.  This will help you apply the Word of God to your life.

Blessings,  Bill Duke