We all know that the discipline of daily Bible reading and study is important. The Word itself is clear on the matter (even a cursory reading of Psalm 119 demonstrates this importance) and you have surely heard a preacher or two who have extoled its value (COUGH COUGH). Despite our best intentions, though, we can become desensitized to the Scriptures, especially when our approach remains the same. In those instances, our study can become rote and monotonous. Our minds can easily wander as we read through another genealogy or list of ceremonial procedures for ancient Israel. When that happens, we are missing out on the wonders and riches God’s Word holds for us.
As we approach the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, it is natural for us to stop and take stock of where we are. Such a spiritual inventory is not a bad idea, because it can help us to see areas where we have grown over the past year as well as those areas that are in need of our attention. Each of us struggles in certain areas of our spiritual lives, and one of the more common areas is biblical literacy. We simply don’t know the Bible as well as we should, and we don’t know it as well as we should because we aren’t in it as much as we should. On top of that, when we are in the Word, we tend “camp out” in those areas where we are already comfortable rather than dig into sections of Scripture that challenge us (whether in terms of personal growth, spiritual development, or intellectual understanding).
I want to share a few suggestions with you as we approach the New Year that might help you reinvigorate your Bible reading and study:
- Try a new Bible reading plan. If you just read straight through the Bible, Genesis to Revelation, every year, it can be easy for your readings to seem mundane. This year, why not try a different style? Perhaps read through the Bible chronologically, or try a reading from a different genre of Scripture each day. The Bible reading plan we include in the bulletin each week is changed every year in terms of its format. If you’re looking for a new Bible reading plan, please come see me and I’ll be happy to suggest a good one for you!
- Spend some time reading the Bible devotionally. Sometimes, we can become rather legalistic in terms of our Bible reading. I remember as a kid that our offering envelopes had multiple checkboxes that we were to fill out each week: Bible read daily, prayed daily, studied Sunday School lesson, and so forth. We have our reading plan and we focus on getting through the five chapters we’re supposed to read this day, but we miss out on what the Word has to say to us. In addition to your regular reading plan, just sit down with the Bible and read. Read through the Psalms or Jeremiah; spend some time reading the entire letter to the Hebrews (you can do it in under an hour). Get the scope of the entire book. You’ll be glad you did.
- Try a Journible. No, that’s not a misspelling. A Journible is a unique type of journal that is formatted for you to write out the Scriptures in your own hand on one side while journaling your thoughts on the other. When you sit down to set your hand to copying the Bible, several things happen. You slow down, because you want to be sure you get it right. You absorb more of the Word because you are seeing it multiple times (plus, the action of writing helps with memory). You reflect more on what God is saying through His Word. And – don’t miss this aspect – you’re leaving a legacy of God’s Word in your hand, with your thoughts, for your children or grandchildren. I keep spare Journibles in my office; if you’re interested in starting this in 2018, stop by and see me.
We are blessed to have God’s special revelation about Himself in the words of Scripture. May 2018 be a more Bible-filled year for each of us! Just something to think about…