Reading the Word of God is one of the most important spiritual disciplines that modern-day Christians have at their disposal to grow in their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, this spiritual discipline is often under-utilized and under-appreciated. Many Christians have never read their Bibles consistently or have read it in the past, but now find themselves unable to keep up.
Here’s a few things to consider if you are embarking on your own journey through the Bible, or you’re just picking up where you left off years ago.
Understand the source of comprehension.
“I want to read the Bible, but I probably won’t understand it anyway.”
As Christians, we have the tendency to fall into the trap of letting the Devil convince us that we aren’t smart enough to understand the Bible. We treat the Bible like some complicated textbook that requires in-depth, prerequisite knowledge in order to benefit from reading it. This is a bold-faced lie from Satan and couldn’t be farther from the truth.
In Matthew 4:4, Jesus, while being tempted by Satan in the desert, had this to say about the Word of God,
“…It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
According to Jesus, the word of God is for all mankind, not just for Bible Scholars and monks. In addition, for the Christian, the Word of God is as essential for survival as food.
Anyone, regardless of their education level, can read the Bible and benefit from the teaching and encouragement. How can this be true? The answer lies in understanding that the source of our comprehension of the Scripture is not based on our knowledge or our intuition. Instead, our ability to comprehend the living, breathing Word of God and benefit from it is directly reliant upon the work of the Holy Spirit connecting the dots in our hearts.
Take a look at John 14:26 where Jesus says,
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
This connection between the Spirit of the Word and the Holy Spirit inside us allows us to understand what the Scriptures say and how we can apply it to our lives. The Holy Spirit does all the heavy lifting; empowering us to see and comprehend the Scripture, moving in our hearts and prompting change in our thoughts, words, and deeds.
It is incredibly freeing to know that as Christians, we can read Scripture and not have to wonder if we will ever understand it, because we will. If we patiently pursue God, fulling our hearts and minds with His Word, God will reveal himself to us through the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are not the source of comprehension, the Holy Spirit is. So we can relax. God will speak to us through the His Word, but first, we have to do our part. We have to dust off our Bibles, open the pages, and begin to read.
Read even when we don’t feel like it.
“I don’t really feel like reading my Bible today.”
The Spiritual discipline of reading Scripture is just that; a discipline. A discipline is a way of behaving that shows willingness to obey rules or orders. There may be times where we will feel like we don’t want to read our Bibles. We might be tired, or struggling with the allure of a worldly activity drawing us away from quiet time with God. It happens all the time. If we ever have that thought of, “I really don’t feel like reading my Bible today,” we ought to ponder where that thought might be coming from.
In Matthew 12:30 Jesus says,
“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
Jesus establishes the fact that there is no neutrality in this life. We are either for Him, or we align ourselves with Satan; there is no middle ground. Perhaps the same is true of our thought life. Each and every thought is either for God or against Him. If something inside us tells us we don’t want to read our Bible — that thought is either coming from God or our sinful nature and Satan.
Do we really think that God would encourage us to not read our Bibles? Could the Holy Spirit really be prompting us to not receive the Word of God when we live in a world that is so saturated with sin? Chances are, except in some extreme cases, God isn’t trying to convince us not to read our Bibles. Therefore, the thought must be coming from Satan.
The moment our heart tells us not to read, is the precisely the moment when we ought to bathe ourselves in the Word of God even more fervently, because Satan is holding court in our hearts. Our response should be to dive head-first into the Word to fend off the attacks of Satan. Some of the most encouraging and profitable times of reading the Bible come when we don’t want to read but we do anyway.
Check back next week for more keys to reading the Bible effectively.