For fifty-four years, I have been awash in God’s grace. However, I can’t say I always understood that nor when I did, I cannot say I embraced it daily. Fortunately, it has held me every day. Many undeserved gifts were given thorough the work of Christ. One was the ability, through the sending of the Holy Spirit, to understand His word. His Word and His Spirit are a packaged gift, and like all gifts, it can be received with varying degrees of ownership. How I wish I’d read and studied it every day of my life. To have memorized and meditated more on it and to have always owned it as my own would have done much for my life, my self, and my loved ones. Why? For many reasons but here are a few.
1. Wisdom: Every morning, my mind wakes up worrying or wondering or wandering. It has sometimes awakened me with outright fear, angst, and, upon occasion, with a wonderful idea or plan. Sometimes it is in a great state and sometimes it is in a deplorable state. My selfish ambitions, fleshy desires, and vain ideas are all swimming around and I need to sort through them quickly and center my thinking with clarity. Some of that sorting happens quickly and easily. Praying through morning duties and talking to God in one’s heart can clear much clutter but how clear other matters become when I open God’s word. It is my habit to read a chapter in Proverbs every morning. On a practical level, things that matter most in duties and relationships jump off the page. A few Psalms will focus my soul on the greatness and largeness of God. At 4AM, that family or church issue looked so daunting but after a little time in worship before God’s sovereign throne, life gets scaled back to the standard of realism. Reading with an ear to the Spirit on a daily basis reminds me of who I am, who He is, and why and how much (or how little) others matter. It equips me with a mountaintop from which I more accurately perceive life’s vista. Sometimes, it’s only a treetop but God’s will in my life becomes doable.
2. Truth: While it is not enough to have right doctrine, it is necessary. Don’t forget that the demons could likely pass any seminary exam as they have a lot of experience with holy things (James 2:19). So deep theology is not a cure-all for weak or poor spirituality or for bad character. However, poor theology means a poor view of God and a poor view of God will warp all of one’s thinking in a wrong direction. Understanding God better and more deeply will widen and heighten the space in one’s soul to experience joy, peace, grief, disappointments and to rest in the beauty of God’s gospel. Also, understanding what is real and what is true and what is not real in this world is not easy. Constant bombardment with other’s views, opinions, slants, and spins is a reality of our hi-tech culture. Being connected yet disconnected is so easy today and not just relationally but in regards to God’s truth as well. One can easily hear more views and opinions today in an hour than ever before yet never hear God’s voice. Daily Bible reading will deepen you and connect you to ancient and eternal truth needed in any and every age.
3. Worship: My agenda is made and I am ready for the day. Does it include worship? If I have not stopped to be reminded of the beauty and power of God, my list may reveal my idol. It could be me. If I have to get this list done to feel fulfilled and accomplished, respected and admirable, whom am I worshipping? Whom do I fear? Others? My boss, the crew, and my family can easily supplant a righteous motive in my heart with a good one – and that is one step (or more) down we’re asking God to take in our hearts. Daily Bible reading brings me to commune with the architect of my soul and helps me become more effective in ordering all the lesser priorities and less, but significant, relationships and enables me to keep Him high above all.
The danger of Bible reading (yes, it can hinder you) is that one may trust the Bible or the habit of reading it to be all one needs. Approached in this manner, it can become a tool or an idolatrous sacrament. What one needs is God – Father, Son, and Spirit – and what one needs to do is come before Him at the throne of grace for help. Properly read, this is where the Bible will take us – to our knees! The value of Bible reading is lost when one treats it as a formula for success, a sacrament or ritual that adds spirituality to one’s life, or as a good luck charm that guarantees that God is happy with them and will bless them that day. I am reminded of the impact that Bible reading had on George Whitfield as a new believer. His first time through the Bible, he read it on his knees. He was not worshiping the book. He was worshiping its Author. He was in wonder at the God the Bible revealed. He was humbly positioned to receive the teaching of His Master. Are we?