I’ve got my steamy cup of coffee with Peppermint Mocha creamer, so grab you a cuppa and let’s get going again…
So have you been meeting with God each day? Have you found your time and place that works for you? Are you getting into the routine, a routine as common as family dinner around the table at 6:00 or getting up for work at 5:30? I hope so! Have you found a Bible version you enjoy reading or studying in?
Last week Michele shared some great logistics and organization tips on Bible study with you. Check it out here if you missed it. Later we will have some more articles on Bible study from our other writers sharing how they handle Bible study. But for today, I want to talk more heart stuff, once again with a focus on Bible study.
I remember vividly my mom & dad sitting down every night during my childhood and doing their “Daily Bible Reading.” In those days Sunday morning lesson books had recommended scriptures to read for each day of the week. I honestly can’t remember a single night not seeing them sitting at the kitchen table, each reading their individual Bibles, as I kissed them goodnight and headed off to bed. What a great heritage I had and I didn’t even realize that as a child!
So with a heritage like that and having a compliant personality I started to read my Bible daily as soon as I accepted Christ at age eight. Now I didn’t understand much of it. I usually just read one or two verses. But I was learning to feed myself spiritually. Just like a little messy baby reaching for the baby food spoon or trying to feed himself Cheerios the first time, I didn’t have great success, but I was on the path to grow and learn. I missed days. I took notes in my diary on what I read. I was able to check the box of Bible reading and was making those foundational moves to be what my child eyes saw a Christian to be.
In 3rd grade I had Mrs. Mamie Latham as my Sunday School teacher. She was a godly woman with a heart for scripture memory! She gave us treats every Sunday if we memorized a new verse. I got a treat nearly every Sunday (but we won’t talk about my struggle even today with treats!) God was working into me a foundation of scripture for my life. Many of these verses I remember today.
In my teens I started reading more scripture and understanding it more. I began to see how God’s Word could be applied in my everyday life. I was very self-focused. I searched out scripture verses to help me out when I was discouraged or fearful or in need in any other way. My Bible reading was mostly about what was in it for me. But as Isaiah 55:10-11 tells us “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” God was working a purpose in me even when I was reading His Word for self gain.
In college, older godly friends of mine began to disciple me through Navigator Bible studies. They challenged me to study the Bible deeply and memorize scripture. The “Design for Discipleship” series dug into foundational truths of scripture that built in me a knowledge of what His Word said about God and sin and man and life. During this time I was very rigid and legalistic. I either mentally berated myself for missing my quiet time or felt very sanctimonious that I was meeting with the Lord every day.
During my 20s, I began longing to really know God. I’d grown up with religion and I loved God, but during this time I began a real relationship with Him. My quiet time became something I desired to do, not just something I “should” do. I wanted to read all of His word, and to know Him like I saw more mature believers knowing HIm, and to become all He wanted me to be. I wanted Him to be my friend and to see Him move in my life.
As I grew up and married and had kids, I was invited by another young mom to a Precepts Bible study in the home of a more mature woman. I learned how to study His Word deeply, turning to research on the Greek and Hebrew words to bring scripture to life! I learned Bible history, word studies, and all sorts of “academic” means of learning about God. I got quite proud of my Biblical knowledge and though I couldn’t see myself this way at the time, I was judgmental, condescending, and a know-it-all. But God was patient with me. Trials came and the academics couldn’t get me through. I turned my heart back to having a relationship with Him.
Over the next decade or so I grew steadily, reading His Word and journaling and praying fairly consistently, just as I had seen my parents. I went through trials and found Him faithful. And enough! I worked through insecurity and fears and character issues. His word was alive and active in me. I began to hear Him speak through His Word to specific situations. I learned to love myself “warts and all” because He does. It seemed certain verses jumped off the page or were in bold print at just the time I needed to read them. My daily Bible reading schedule astounded me that God could speak so specifically through verses that had “randomly” been scheduled months ago as the “verse of that day.”
And now I find myself an older woman.
Now I am sharing what I’ve learned. I’m still learning. Still being stretched. Still being rebuked. Still being comforted. Still discovering new things in His Word. It never ends! So take my word for this, at whatever stage you find yourself in reading God’s Word, it will not return void. It will achieve what He wants in your life, even if you are hit and miss in meeting with Him. Even if you are reading it for selfish or legalistic motives. God’s Word is alive and active in our lives. But as with many things, we may not notice the small day-to-day changes it has caused until we reflect back on who we were a year or two or ten ago!
So hang in there. READ HIS WORD! It is His love letter, instruction book, recipe book, secret message, and rare treasure in our lives. It is your bread for the problems of today and your seed that will bear much fruit in the future if you read it. It is truth. Cling to His promises for your day. I challenge you to not be like me, don’t be sporadic and undisciplined and miss out on the wealth of what God has to show you. There’s grace for that if you are, but it’s not the Best thing. Be like a Bible leader I look up to who has read the entire Bible every year since she was a teen, and she’s now in her 50’s! Oh the wisdom and joy and depth of relationship with the Father!