Summary: Reading the Bible on a regular basis is a vital part of nurturing our relationship with Jesus and growing in discipleship.
Psalm 1:1-6 “Bible Reading—Opening One’s Eyes, Ears, and Heart”
The Bible is the greatest book ever written is a commonly held belief. More copies of the Bible have been sold than any other book, and the Bible continues to be the top selling book year after year. Nothing even comes close to the Bible in sales volume. Surveys indicate that 91% of the households in America have a Bible. The average number of Bibles in those households is three. Though a majority of Americans possess a Bible, only 38% of them read it.
A basic tenet of the Christian faith is that the Bible is the inspired word of God. God speaks to us through the human words and physical pages of the Bible. Unfortunately, most of the Bibles lie on shelves gathering dust. Such a situation certainly muffles the voice of God and hinders God’s communication with us.
Reading the Bible does not make us righteous, nor is it an activity that wins favor and blessings from God. Our righteousness comes from the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because of what Jesus has done for us and what we have been given because of Jesus, we have no need to try to impress or brown nose God.
The Bible is a book, but also more than a book. The Bible is more thought provoking than the greatest novels: Les Miserable, Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, and Pride and Prejudice. It is adventurous like Harry Potter, and The Lord of the Rings, but more so. The Bible is more helpful than the greatest self-help books, and of more encouragement than any great story or book of inspiration.
God speaks to us through the Bible. Our hearts are touched and our lives transformed by reading its words.
The Bible gives us the ability to stand against the crowd; to be an individual and not a follower. The Psalmist pictures a person who follows the scoffers, cynics and sinners. The picture is of a person who has no values or ideas of his or her own, but only adopts and mirrors the values and ideas of the crowd.
Spending time in Scripture enables us to be like trees growing by flowing streams. Our roots run deep. Our lives are well watered, healthy and fruitful. In a wholistic manner we demonstrate and live out an abundant life.
With undeniable and distinct benefits evident from reading the Bible, one wonders why a mere 38% of those who possess a Bible ever take the time to dust of its cover and read it. An important question that we must ask ourselves is what hinders people from reading the Bible.
Many people have difficulty understanding the Bible. It was written long ago, and is the product of several different cultures. These factors make it difficult to place the Bible in our context and understand what it is saying to our particular situations, and how it can be applied in a faithful, loving manner.
Many people understand the Bible quite well, but they do not believe that it has anything to say to their lives today. They see the Bible as old fashioned, prudish, and out of touch with what is going on in the world today. They don’t see how the Bible can deal with scientific discoveries, AIDs, genetic engineering, genocide, and global warming.
We must confess, also, that many people avoid reading the Bible because it has been misused by individuals and the church in the past. People have twisted the words of Scripture to prove their point, achieve their goals, and manipulate people. A wedge has been driven between the people and the Bible.
Though we do face significant obstacles in reading the Bible on a regular basis, they are not insurmountable obstacles.
The difficulty in understanding the Bible can be eased by purchasing a modern translations uses today’s words and phrases to convey the message of the Bible. Commentaries and daily devotionals can be used to explain difficult passages and provide valuable ideas for application.
Attending an Adult education opportunity such as ALPHA, the Bible Study on Acts, or other such courses, provide us with situations that can help us both delve deeper into Scripture and also understand it.
We do not need to enroll in a degree program in order to receive great benefit from reading the Bible. Neither do we need to spend hours a day reading the Bible. The benefits of reading the Bible can be seen from regularly disciplining ourselves to read the Bible for a short period of time. Over time, this period can be lengthened.
God speaks to us through the words of the Bible. We should not deny ourselves this wonderful opportunity to experience God in our lives, to nurture our relationship with God, and to grow in the image of God.