The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. (Psalm 19:7-11 ESV)
Revival. Certainty. Wisdom. Joy. Understanding. Purity. Truth. These are all things each of us would desire to experience as we head into a new year aren't they? We long for our souls to be revived, to live with certainty and wisdom and a glad heart in the midst of uncertain days. The Psalmist declares, without qualification, that all of that (and more) is to be found in the word of God, the Bible. God's word is greater than gold. God's word is sweeter than honey (IOW is more satisfying than that thing you so very much enjoy - for me...that first bite of a Godiva Chocolate cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory). God's word warns us, it protects us, it guides us, and in keeping the word of God we have been promised great reward. That reward is both a present reward and a future reward; a present joy and renewal that is a foreshadowing of that joy and renewal that is to come. God's word is, as Moses says, "...our very life."
Perhaps you struggle with reading the Bible. You may feel guilty about not reading the Bible for awhile, then you busy yourself and end up kinda forgetting it, and you begin getting into the habit of not going to God's word except for possibly on Sundays. And your love for the Lord has grown dim over time. Sermons have become dull and, to some extent, hard to understand. Your joy has become exceedingly circumstantial. You're quicker to succumb to that tempatation and your thoughts have become more focused on yourself. Perhaps you have wondered why that is the case.
There are probably a few reasons, but one of them is that the world, the flesh, and the devil (our adversaries), all conspire to keep us from God's Word. Why? Well, one of the most vital means of grace that God has given us is the Bible. In it we find THE STORY that makes all of our stories make sense. In it we aren't simply meant to find nice anecdotes or words of wisdom or moral direction to make our lives better. No, in the Bible we are given THE revelation of God. He has spoken to us. And as we open up that word, by the grace of God and by the power of the Holy Spirit and over time, we are given eyes to see HIM. And in seeing HIM we finally get an accurate picture of ourselves and the truth of where we can know true life today and into eternity.
So....tomorrow is the beginning of a new year. It's a great time to begin reading through the Bible. HERE is a link to a site that has a number of choices for you. And as we head into this new year, let me give you a couple of suggestions:
- If you've started in years past only to quit within 6 weeks then how about you begin your bible reading plan tomorrow morning by beginning with the reading on July 1? Or some other starting point (so you aren't simply always reading from the Pentateuch in January and losing your way by the time you get to Numbers).
- Don't use your electronic equipment. In fact, put your phone or tablet in a different room while you're reading your bible.
- Use a hard copy of the Bible. Get to know it. Underline in it, put notes in it. Print a copy of one of the Bible plans, cut it out and tape it into the back of your bible so it's always with you. (And bring that same bible to church with you on Sunday mornings!)
- Devotional books are often very helpful, but DON'T let them take the place of reading the WORD.
- As you read, pray. Thank God for what you're reading. Ask him for understanding and clarity. Look for gospel truth no matter where you are reading. The gospel is THE story and it is pervasive in both testaments.
- Take some time and learn from John Piper here on how to pray as you enter into your bible reading each day.
Friends, I'm in this with you! I have typically used the M'Cheyne Bible Calendar and will continue to do so this year. I expect that I will continue to be tempted to get on with my day and skip reading and meditating. And when I give in I will have "chosen poorly." I HAVE TO HAVE God's word! Please...pray for me. And know that I am praying for you. You need to expect the fight. You won't want to read it. You'll be tempted to do ANYTHING else. You'll get angry, tired, distracted, tempted, etc... but by all means, "take it up and read!" And know that every time you do you are not picking up a dead book that yields no life except for some interesting storylines and proverbial tidbits, but the "...Word of God [that] is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12, ESV).