Strange title for a post on something so important as reading the Bible, but it reflects how I started out when I committed to read the Word each day.
I subscribe to a number of daily devotional newsletters but one I’ve subscribed to for years: John Eldredge’s Daily Reading (subscribe here, need to put in link).
Eldredge’s takes a snippet from one of his books and usually contains some Scripture whilst the second has a weekly theme, for example, “God honours truth”. It then uses a relevant bible verse supporting the theme with a small commentary.
I still start with these each day. As mentioned previously, I love Eldredge’s perspective on the “heart journey” we all need to go on (you’ll see many references to his material in future posts). Pretty much everyday I go “Wow” when I read this devotional and have saved many for future reference.
I struggled to know how best to approach my bible study beyond these devotionals but I realised there was so much of the Bible I didn’t know nor understand, particularly the Old Testament. But I started out reading Psalms and Proverbs, both of which have some tremendous bite-sized practical wisdom.
I’ve heard many experienced Christians adopt the “let the Spirit guide me what to read each day” method. I tried this, waiting on the Spirit and at times it was good but I’m a real learner and studier, and this method didn’t really sit well with me.
I’m a big fan of commentaries mainly because I know so little and I want to suck out as much as I can. Sometimes this will take the form of a specific book focused entirely on say the gospel of Mark, which I finished recently. I used to read books that had specific themes which contained Biblical verses, however, we have to be careful here because one thing I’ve learnt is to maximise the Bible reading experience, you need to focus on just that: reading the Bible and wait on the Spirit to speak wisdom, discipline, or whatever into your heart.
What I’ve found is that reading the Word is listening with BOTH your heart and mind. Growing up I only used the mind and hence, the dissatisfaction with the practice and is likely to be the key reason why I haven’t been very good at doing it. Until now – I try to listen with my heart by waiting on the Spirit and meditating on the scripture.
For that reason I avoid reading large chunks, the most I would typically read would be ten verses and even then I’d probably just focus on one to two within the ten. Yes, this means it will probably take me the rest of my life to get through the Bible, but I’m okay with that, especially as I so enjoy it now.
We men aren’t good readers in general, but this is something we need to do if we are to develop intimacy with God. It’s His guidebook to Himself, it’s like you’re reading His journal with all His insights, hopes, dreams and revelations.
That’s why it is a lucky dip – every day, I get something from it. Sometimes it’s only a small snippet, but some days it bores into my soul and hangs around me all day. I particularly love those days.
I always write a verse down – there’s power in putting something on paper and will usually read it repeatedly. I’m now increasingly getting into the habit of memorising Scripture as it’s a weapon, “the sword of the spirit”, that hits Satan hard when temptation or discouragement raises it’s ugly head. More of this in a later post.
Probably my all time favourite verse is “Do not conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2). It took me thirty years to realise the only way you can renew your mind is by feeding it something fresh and vibrant. That’s what God’s Word is.
I know I’ve been transformed (still lots more to do!) since New Year’s Day 2009 and that’s mainly due to dipping into God’s journal each day.
If you’re struggling to do it regularly, just start with ten or 15 minutes. Be somewhere quiet, take a handful of verses and ask the Spirit to open your heart and mind. Keep at it. It’s like working out, there are days you don’t think anything’s happening until three months later you realise your jeans are too big or your shirts are too tight.
What do you do to keep your bible reading fresh and vibrant?