Welcome to 2017! I know that nothing much changes from one day to the next, but the idea of a new beginning brings with it renewed hope and motivation. This is why many of us make resolutions. We hope to better ourselves and our lives.
This year I’ve decided to have only one goal. I want to read more. I want to read more of the Bible, more commentaries to help me understand what I read in the Bible, and some books that help me know God more clearly.
I failed in this area last year. But praise Jesus that our salvation and His love towards us does not depend on our performance.
No matter what your resolutions are, make sure that the care of your soul is on that list.
We care for our souls by knowing God through His word. We love Jesus by loving His word. We are empowered to love others more joyfully by better understanding His word. We are saved through the truth found in His word.
2017 should be a year, for all of us, where God’s word is treasured in our hearts transforming our lives.
Here are a few ideas that can help us be more successful in our Bible reading.
Get rid of the thing that will hinder you
What causes you to not ready your Bible? You need to figure out what it is and then make some changes. Is it staying up late? Too much TV or internet browsing? A dirty kitchen? Laundry? Children? Are you too in love with the world? Are you too selfish with your time? Are you too lazy to study? Perhaps you are too busy to study?
I hate to admit that I could say “yes” to all of these at various times. We need to identify where we fall short, repent and pray for the wisdom and strength to make changes.
Find a cozy place to read
If you are like me then getting out of bed in the morning is difficult. It doesn’t matter how well I plan or how early I go to bed, getting out of bed early in the morning is the worst.
This is where I praise the Lord for electronics. I can use my phone or kindle to read without ever having to leave the comfort of my cozy bed (until my children come and ask for breakfast).
A while ago I was reading through the Psalms, using Charles Spurgeon’s commentary. I would read throughout the day at my kitchen table. I say “throughout” because it literally would take me most of the day to get through one (sometimes just part of one) Psalm.
Some have a chair by a window that they love to read in. Maybe you even retreat to the bathroom. The point is, find a place that works for you.
Read the Bible in a common-sense way. Do not read it on your knees, as I have known some people do, it is an awkward posture: get into an easy chair: read it comfortably. Pray after you have read it as much as you like, but do not make a penance of what ought to be a pleasure.
Pray that you would treasure your Bible, that you would love the words that you will read. Pray for understanding and for a willingness to learn not only the easy words in scripture but the hard words as well. Not everything you read may apply immediately to your day, but in your reading, you are storing up wisdom for future days. Reading the Bible prayerfully sets us up to understand and experience more of God.
Don’t read and run. In Col 3 we are told to set our minds on things that are above, this is meditation. It is not an emptying of our minds, but a filling of them with truth. Meditation is basically reminding yourself of the truth that you have read. It helps cement the truth into your soul. What we read in the morning should be considered throughout the day. Bring it to mind when you have a few moments peace. Bring it up in prayer as you talk with the Lord.
Apply what you read
When we think of applying scripture to our life we automatically think about our actions and words. I need to stop doing XYZ and start doing ABC. But sometimes the practical application is not something we should do, but something we should believe. Sometimes the practical application of a text is meant to change our thinking.
Here are some questions to ask:
What does this teach me about God?
And how should those truths affect my day?
How should these verses strengthen my faith?
How do I need to change my thinking?
No matter what you hope to accomplish this year, put the care of your soul at the top of your list and say with David,
I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes
I will not forget your word.