Hello and happy new year!
I’ve had a struggle in deciding what to write about for today’s blog post. I had decided awhile back to write each week of January about a specific desirable trait that may motivate us all toward being better in some way. Then I thought that instead of my writings centering around us, I should take on an attribute of God to write about during each of the five weeks. I also liked the idea of these God reflections being a separate mini course that you would have the choice of joining or not. However, setting up the separate course would require some extra legwork on my part to get the technology straight. Because I’ve been a little pinched for time lately and I’d really like this course to be well thought out, I’ve decided to stick with my original idea for now (and be like every other blogger around), but reserve the mini course for another time when it can have my undivided attention. But for now, I’ll dive into the first resolution of mine.
Bible reading – in my opinion it is the single most important thing you can choose to spend time doing every day. All of the other subjects I’ll be writing about this month are good to put into practice, but I think Bible reading is vital. I learned many things while teaching Sunday School years ago. You might be surprised what a 40-year-old could discover when teaching three-year-olds, and I’m just talking about spiritual lessons. The booklet that I used as a guideline suggested referring to the Bible as “God’s letter to us”. I had never thought of that analogy before. God has a message for each of us.
I had an ancestor (Tom) that joined the Union cavalry during the Civil War. He had grown up on a farm and had never learned to read or write. While he was away, he wanted to communicate with his family, but couldn’t do it directly. So he had other men from his company write home. He told his mother and sister about what the conditions were like where he was stationed and also gave them instructions for various things he wanted them to do.
God’s Word is the way God has chosen to communicate with us. It was written by individuals God picked to record what He wanted us to know. Through this letter we can learn what God wants to reveal about Himself and He also instructs us on how we’re to act through the message He has sent to us. Imagine if Tom’s mother hadn’t bothered to open the letters he sent her? Farm life must have kept her very busy, but I’m sure when she received a letter, she couldn’t wait to read it. Is this how I treat my Bible reading? Do I look forward to sitting down and reading and thinking about what God took the time to record or do I just place the “letter” in a special place and only glance at it occasionally? What would you think of Tom’s mother if she never read it for herself, but felt like it was acceptable for someone else to read it silently and then just paraphrase the parts they thought she should know? Am I not doing that very thing if I let some religious leader tell me about the Bible, but neglect to read it myself?
The thing is that our Bibles were given to us by an all-knowing God. Unlike Tom, God knows what each of us are going through every day. His Word contains life changing precepts that can totally change how we live our day. Even though it was penned thousands of years ago, it remains powerful and repeated readings can bring new insight. As I pointed out in a previous post, even the seemingly obscure sections can provide treasure that we can cherish as we face an unknown day. So, if you limit yourself to reading only the Psalms, it would be like Tom’s mother only reading one line from his letter and never discovering what the rest of it said.
So now that you realize that you need to commit to reading your Bible every day to stay balanced, you might be wondering where to start. There are sixty-six books enclosed between the covers and each book has a different flavor because God allowed the varied men who penned them to do so with various styles. Take for example the four gospels. Even though they each center around the life of Jesus, they focus on the accounts from different angles. Each of us may have a different book of the Bible as our favorite, but the important thing is to eventually read it all. You might surprise yourself and end up enjoying portions you never thought you would.
How much should you read every day? There are many different thoughts on the best answer to this question. The key is to not set the amount so high that you quickly become discouraged or have to hurry through your reading. However, if you read only a few verses each day, you can easily lose the context of the whole section. Bible reading is not a sprint. You don’t win by reading the entire thing in a designated period of time. If you think of reading your Bible like enjoying physical food, you need to be sure to take in enough daily to keep from being malnourished and it needs to be chewed* well.
What if you don’t understand the passage you are reading? Don’t give up! There are many reliable commentaries and godly books that are written to help clear up the confusing portions. Just remember that men are imperfect creatures and any author may have a very distorted view on some Biblical subjects. The best practice is to pray that God will reveal meanings to you. He wrote the Book. He wants you to understand what you are reading. That’s why He wrote it. If you really desire to understand, I believe God will provide the needed knowledge.
Finally, there are many reading plans available online and in written form. I have used multiple plans and benefited from them all in different ways. I think it is good to record what you have read so that you keep yourself accountable. It is so easy to forget a day, then another, and pretty soon it will be 2018 and you’ll have the same broken resolution. I have even participated with a group of women online where we were supposed to encourage each other to read the section of Bible assigned. If you try one plan or a group and find it isn’t working for you, don’t give up reading. Just switch to another approach, but don’t wait for another new year to do it. I believe a year of Bible reading will be a year of blessing. Test my theory and let me know next January!
Please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you find is your biggest obstacle to reading your Bible or let me know what specific thing has helped you stick with it. Have you used a certain reading plan that you feel helps keep you on track?
*One way to “chew” on God’s Word is to write it out. In addition to my regular reading, I have been writing out portions for the last couple of months. I have found the writing plans posted for the Sweet Blessings blog helpful. You can find them at www.swtblessings.com.