You can do it. Reading the Bible…you can do it. Those may have been the most important words that Greg spoke on Sunday. You really can do it. I know the Bible is big and intimidating and often confusing. I’ve cowered at the thought of reading it all. But I took a step of faith a couple of years ago and made a commitment that I would not stop until I finished reading the entire Bible using the One Year Bible reading plan. Well, I didn’t finish it in 12 months, and when I got behind, I got really frustrated. However, I kept going and eventually read the entire Bible. Let me just tell you as I honestly as I can about my experience and a few things I learned:
1) The Bible is not a huge book that is impossible to read. Honestly, the Bible has some parts that are very difficult to understand and hard to figure out why they were even included in Scripture. However, the more I read, the more understandable it has become. I figured out that I couldn’t really follow Jesus if all I did was take someone else’s word for what was in Scripture. To follow Jesus requires regular time with Him (John 15:4), a faith that comes from hearing the Word (Romans 10:17), and courage to follow what you read (Joshua 1:7-9) that can only be found when you get to know the grace, power, and faithfulness of the God we follow. And all of that requires more from us than an hour and a half every Sunday.
2) Though I once thought that I didn’t have time to read the Bible, when I made a commitment and had a Bible reading plan, I found that the plan gave me confidence to move forward with focused intention rather than just wandering from Scripture to Scripture wondering when I would hear something from God. Not everyday is a mountaintop experience, but God does promise that we will find Him when we seek Him with all of our hearts (Jeremiah 29:13).
3) I never regretted the time I spent with God. I never finished my time with God and thought, “Man, I really wish I wouldn’t have missed that TV show or sporting event or those extra 60 minutes of sleep.” The Holy Spirit helped me to understand the Scripture but, more importantly, cultivated a more intimate relationship with God.
4) I’m not great at prayer. However, I found that reading and praying over Scripture gave me a more concrete way to interact with God on a regular basis and ensure that my prayers are not simply a list of all my needs but rather an adjustment of my perspective so that my requests line up with what God wants for me.
5) I found that the more time I spent reading the Bible, the more my mind reminded me of Scripture throughout the day without even intending to do so. The world is filled with messages about you and me, about money, about life, and about where we can find satisfaction. Regular time in God’s Word helps us to see those messages for what they are and reminds us of important truths concerning who we are in Christ, the character of God, and where our hope lies.
6) I was reminded again of just how awesome God has been to me. I encountered God in a fresh way during that year or so and was blessed with a spirit of gratitude. I mean, I spent years of my life running from God and doing just about everything I could to get away from Him. But, even in my sin and shame, God continued to love me, pursue me, and graciously lead me back to Him. He still offers that much needed grace and forgiveness to me today. God’s faithfulness to me even when I haven’t been faithful to Him is something I don’t want to “get over”. And that’s one reason I’ll never stop reading God’s Word.
I pray that as you begin to read the Word of God that you will be drawn to Him, that your heart will be soft and open to Scripture, and that your time with God will be more than just a reading assignment. I pray that you will find peace and wisdom in the words from God and courage to follow what you hear from God.