The year 2018 approaches its halfway point rapidly. How is your Bible reading going?
In January, I wrote an exhortation and encouragement to purse the reading and study of the Bible this year. Read the post here.
Some of us goof our Bible reading plans right off the bat. We only need one bad day or late night to break our rhythm. The talk show radio guests and life coaches all tell us how to keep a solid schedule. Nearly every news outlet will tell you at one point or another how the major movers and shakers in corporate America accomplish so much. Many of us set our alarms to the wee hours of the morning, promising we will get up and get after our Bible reading early, just like the Nicene Creed commands.
Then your 18 month old goes through a phase where he wakes up ready for the day at 3:14 AM.
Your car won’t start, and you get to rearrange everything based on how to get it fixed, including transportation to and from the repair shop.
One morning, when the alarm goes off, you just hit snooze.
We do not need much of a stimulus to throw a wrench in the whole thing, do we? Before we know it, a week goes by, and we did not make an inch of progress. A week becomes a month does it not?
The realization of our lack of progress in our Scripture-study goals tends to discourage. Our discouragement freezes our motivation to pick up the Bible again.
Brother or sister, do not let such a thing happen.
When we read Scripture, we read the words of God himself. Reading the Bible is a supernatural activity. Do not naturalize your time with Scripture; every word came from your Creator. When we read the words of Scripture, the enemies of God and his people, the powers and principalities of darkness, seek to distract us. Reading, studying, and understanding the words of the Bible makes war on the desires of Satan and his minions. The discouraging feeling you develop when you have not opened the Bible does not come from the Holy Spirit. Would he dissuade you from hearing him speak in the text of Scripture? I cannot see why he would do such a thing.
I set a few goals for the study and reading of Scripture this year. One, listening through my entire audio version of the NASB goes well. I also set a goal to hand-write the books of 1 and 2 Samuel. Hand-writing Scripture consumes a lot of time, and as it turns out, I did not properly negotiate my time, and I am behind on accomplishing that particular goal. I do not think I can actually accomplish hand-writing these two books of the Bible this year.
Perhaps you also find yourself woefully behind in meeting your goal for the year. You feel frustrated, ashamed, and somewhat despondent or despairing. Am I ever going to get to know the Bible like I should? you ask.
If the reason for your lack of progress comes from idolatrous pursuits of other things, you pray a prayer of repentance for seeking satisfaction in another god. If God can handle all of the failings of the Old Testament saints, the denial of Peter, and literally every other sin of his people since the dawn of time, he can certainly handle yours in this moment. If today you hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, listen to him tell you of the merciful high priest, Christ Jesus.
Whatever the reason for finding oneself lagging in the pursuit of the knowledge of God through Scripture, here’s the one thing you should not do: nothing. Friend, take up and read! Maybe the goal proved too lofty (I think my hand-writing one meets this qualification). Perhaps you needed to hit a few curveballs so far in 2018. Whatever the case, one thing will stop you from the Scripture intake you know you need: staying away from the Bible.
At the end of the day, a reading plan or perfectly executed list will not be your ammunition in the moment of temptation. “A-ha, Satan! But did you know I read the Old Testament once, and the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs TWICE?! Have at you, sir!” said no one ever. Checklists and goals serve us, we do not serve them.
If your undone list or unmet goal discourages you from getting into your Bible, scrap it. Toss it in the garbage.
Pick a book of the Bible, make it a shorter one. I’d suggest 1 John, 1 Peter, or Colossians. How do these books speak of Jesus? What impact do the authors state Jesus has on the life of those who follow him? Do you need to change in any way? Start there and hang out in that book for a while. Maybe read a few verses a day, or read the whole book once a day! Whatever works to put the words God wrote down in your heart and mind.
Organization and goals can serve as helpful tools. However, they serve as tools and nothing more. You do not receive magical powers by doing this or that thing by January 1, 2019.
Where ever you find yourself, whatever you face throughout this year, let Scripture be your guide to Christ. Find your hope and satisfaction in all the glorious things we find about him in Scripture.
Let the word of God nourish your soul, Christian.