By Andrew Fernandez
BIBLE READING – THE STRUGGLE IS REAL
It is easy to neglect our spiritual needs when we feel that all the physical work to be done each day is crying out to us before we even wake up. Let alone all the shows, movies, video games, and tasty social media “chit-chat” to catch up on. We will often choose to sit and think about random facts before we will pick up a Bible and read it.
We are a busy people, and when we are not busy, we prefer to be distracted with a million simple pleasures 1. So, how can we grow in being more consistent in daily Bible reading?
BEFORE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD
I would like to present three ideas for your consideration.
- Daily Bible reading is not about quantity, it is about quality.
- Technology can be a great tool to help us in consistent Bible reading.
- The primacy of the Holy Spirit and support of the church is foundational to every spiritual discipline.
WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD: A QUICK BITE, A SOLID MEAL, AND A FEAST FOR A KING
Now, that daily Bible reading is more about quality than quantity has to do with the depth of passion and inspiration for worshiping God you receive from reading God’s word. There will be days that you rush through the reading, or struggle to find joy in it. You do not need to beat yourself up about this, but you do need to pay careful attention.
Ultimately, we do want to grow in worshiping God more fully and faithfully. Many times, the inspiration comes from reading a short passage or even a single verse. Sometimes, it can come from taking in a larger portion of scripture, but be cautious, taking in too large of a portion of scripture can be like drinking from a fire hydrant, leaving you sick; it can have an adverse effect.
You will find that daily Bible reading is much like Jesus’ teaching ministry, recorded in the gospels; we find a mixture of Jesus teaching a deep truth in few words and other examples of Jesus teaching with many words. We find Jesus teaching the truth of the Kingdom of God in the synagogue, at the sea, in a home, or walking along a path. The key was not how much Jesus said, but what He said, how He said it, and how the listeners listened.
BIBLE READING – BOTH ORGANIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL
Although we are a church living in a technologically advanced time, we find ourselves somewhat back where it all started. The word of God was first spoken, then heard by prophets, then written down and preached by those prophets, and then translated into other languages so that future generations of believers all around the world would have God’s word more easily available to them.
You may feel very strongly that you must have a physical Bible in front of you. Even in recent history there are people who have died for having a physical Bible. You may listen to an audio Bible every time you want to take in God’s word. When it comes to Bible reading, it does not need to be one or the other.
The reality is that we live in a day and age when God’s word is available in so many ways. You do not only have the option of a physical Bible in your own language, but there are probably several options of versions in your language. We have multiple versions of audio Bibles. We have Bibles on MP3, Bibles on CD, Bibles on cassette, we even have the Bible on seven-inch vinyl. How Biblical is that?!
God has given humanity a gift in technology. Think of it: we can download an audio Bible to our smartphone, set an alarm with the chime being someone reading the Bible instead of that annoying buzzing, and this, at the very least, gives us an opportunity to listen to God’s word before we get drawn into the bustle of the days trouble.
Not that we should never make time to hold the word of God in our hand and calmly and slowly meditate on what we are reading. We want to be balanced. There is room for all kinds of ways of taking in God’s word. Take advantage of the technology that God has provided.
“NOT BY MIGHT NOR POWER, BUT BY MY SPIRIT…”
It is true that we should take advantage of the technology God has provided, but we must have first things first. We need God to empower us and lead us in the reading and/or listening of His word. Without God guiding us we are no different than the devil and demons who believe that God is. The devil knew God’s word. He even tried to tempt Jesus by twisting God’s word. How did Jesus resist the devil? He spoke God’s word faithfully back to the devil. The good news is that God wants us to know Him and His word more, so when we pray and ask God to help us, we are praying for something that is one of God’s favorite things to do.
Now, your individual spiritual maturity and depth, although important, is not separate from what God is doing in the church. He plans to equip you so that you will be a strength and gift to the church as the church fulfills her calling. So, as you move forward in learning to engage God’s word every day, it is helpful to connect this practice to the rest of the church. Locally, that may mean that you share a verse through a text message chain with other brothers and sisters from your local congregation or from other churches in your area. The point is: God does not intend for any of us to be alone. We are to be united in the Spirit and in the word of God.
AS WE DRIVE ON
My prayer is that you would consider these ideas, especially if you are struggling to be consistent in your daily Bible reading. I hope you know you are not alone, and that there are others who have the same burden and hope. Reach out to your pastor, elder, a brother or sister in the church, especially if you are struggling. If you are doing well spiritually, it may be that God would use you to help others as they struggle.
Take advantage of useful technology. The Church of God website and directory are great tools to help contact your area representative, or Superintendent; they can point you to ministries from other areas and districts that may help. At the very least, your contact may be the beginning of the steps toward starting some ministry in your area or local church. May God grant us the grace to grow in more clearly understanding the love He speaks to us through His word, but not only to understand it, but to live it, and may that inspire us to worship Him more fully.