27 Mar Spiritual Disciplines: Bible Reading & Reflection
Jesus certainly emphasised the importance of prioritising the Word of God for our lives. “Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4 v 4).
Wayne Cordeiro in his excellent and practical book titled ‘The Divine Mentor’ says; ‘God’s Word, the Bible, is crucially important to our everyday lives. And don’t think obscure religious knowledge here. Think food. Think water. Think air.’
The reality is that if we want to live a healthy, strong, vibrant Christian life, full of faith and fruitfulness, then we will need to have a daily diet of feeding on the Word of God.
Jesus said to the religious teachers of his day; ’You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.’ (John 5 v 39-40)
The Bible is not given to us in order to make us clever or to fill us with information, but rather to help us know the true and living God and His plan to restore relationship with us through His Son Jesus Christ. As we read and study the Scriptures we encounter Jesus and grow in our relationship with him.
Not only that, but God’s Word is living and active and is given to empower and equip us to live for Him in this world. How can we ever expect to flourish without constant exposure to it?
‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.’ (Psalm 119 v 105)
‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the person of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’ (2 Timothy 3 v 16)
Have you got a self-feeding programme? Are you nourishing your soul on the Word?
It’s not sufficient to rely solely on the teaching you hear on Sunday at church. We wouldn’t adopt such an approach in our pattern of physical nourishment, so spiritually speaking, why are we content to eat so irregularly. If all we are relying on is one meal a week, then we won’t be a healthy body, we won’t become a healthy church, and we certainly won’t be spiritually healthy individuals.
We need to find ways to create regular contexts in which we allow God to speak to us and nourish us through his word.
What steps can you take to grow in this area?
Create the space. In the context of your day to day life try and find a time and a place where, at some point each day, you can read the Bible and reflect intentionally upon it. Start small if needed. A helpful model might be to spend 5 minutes reading, 5 minutes thinking, and then 5 minutes praying through what you have encountered. If you do this regularly, you’ll soon want more, and you’ll soon discover how often what you read is very applicable to what’s going on in your life at that time.
Don’t look for short cuts. We are talking about desiring to grow as a Christian, which takes wise training, and a regular investment of time. Of course, a verse for the day, which you quickly read as you exit the house in the morning to get on with your day, can be helpful, but it’s not really going to nourish your soul in the way God intends.
Get a Bible reading plan. There are hundreds of helpful devotional plans on various bible apps. ‘You Version’ bible App is the most widely used and resourced that I am aware of, and choosing a plan can be so helpful in developing a healthy routine.
Read systematically through books of the Bible. This is the most logical and helpful way to read the Bible. Reading slowly through a book of the Bible over a few days or weeks allows you to understand the story of the Bible more clearly and interpret what you are reading appropriately. If we just pick and choose different verses or passages, it is much harder to understand what the original authors were wanting their readers to know, understand, or learn.
Seek to engage your heart not just your head. When you read a verse or passage that really speaks to you or is timely for you, slow down, write it down, read it over, and maybe even try and commit it to memory. If we store up Gods word in our hearts then at different times throughout the week we will find ourselves meditating upon it. Do whatever helps the verse and teaching point penetrate your heart to strengthen and sustain you.
Pray before you read. Pray before you read the word and ask God to speak to you through it. And then, having prayed, read expectantly, and enjoy seeing more of God in His word.
Don’t get stuck in the dry and difficult passages. If you find that you are trying to persist with a reading plan through a difficult book which you are struggling to understand or learn from, don’t feel guilty about changing your plan and redirecting your reading, rather than give up. I have typically tried to alternate daily between Old and New Testaments books, which prevent me from getting bogged down in some of the more difficult books of the Bible.
Redeem your commute. Use the journey to or from work or school and listen to the audio bible, or sermon podcasts on your phone or audio player.
Start with the psalms or proverbs. Find 15 minutes a day to read and pray through a psalm (that will keep you going for 150 days), or a chapter of proverbs (that will keep you going for a month).
Try different translations. The reality is some translations are easier to read than others, find one that is helpful to you right now.
Read and enjoy. Read Scripture with your favourite cup of coffee in hand, or some other enjoyable treat. Make it part of a good moment in your day. Create a way of reading a small portion that will help you look forward to it.
Help each other. For example; If you’re married with kids, you could come to some arrangement with your spouse so that you release each other at different times to hide away for half and hour, undisturbed, to read and pray. If you do this, you’ll be itching to get to that point in the day for some peace and quiet!
Remember, spiritual disciplines are not about us earning anything from God, but they are about us putting ourselves in a position to receive more from Him.
Post by: Martin Coleman