It is a new year, and no doubt many have made it their ambition to read the Bible more often this year. What nobler resolution could someone have?
But many people will give up in mid-February, when they are slogging through Leviticus and are halfway through their third straight gospel tour. The passages that seem redundant and unexciting tend to drown our Bible reading goals.
How can we keep our Bible reading fresh – even the parts that don’t stir us at first reading – so that we don’t give up on our resolution to read more? Allow me to share a few suggestions.
1. Remember that God’s word is alive
Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active.” Just like God himself, his word is full of life and is always doing something. That means, to state the obvious, that God’s word is never dead or inactive. And that is just as true for Leviticus 3:16 as it is for John 3:16.
The implication is that we can come to every passage with a sense of anticipation that God will work through it. That doesn’t mean we will necessarily finish our Bible reading with intense spiritual feelings. But it does mean that we can be assured that no matter what we read on a given day his word will not return void (Isa. 55:11).
2. Pray for God to open your eyes, and trust that he will
The psalmist prayed, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psa. 119:18). He recognized that without God’s help, it would be very easy for him to read God’s law and not come away marveling at how great God is. He needed God to give him eyes to see the wonders of his word.
The same is true for us, of course. We must not read our Bibles without asking God to enable us to see the amazing things in it. I confess that this is something that I sometimes forget. Being somewhat of a task oriented type of person, I’ll sometimes sit down at my desk to begin preparing a sermon only to realize an hour later that I had forgotten to ask God to speak to me and lead me to the message he wants delivered on Sunday. It is by God’s grace that I can even recognize my self-sufficiency. I must stop and repent of my prayerlessness, and then ask God to “open my eyes” before I resume my study.
3. Read with a God-centered attitude
It’s very easy to read God’s word with an emphasis on you. What am I going to learn? What am I going to get out of this? How am I going to apply this?
But as you grow as a Christian, you grow less concerned with yourself, and more interested in loving God and neighbors. This gradual self-emptying process gives a perspective that comes to Scripture with a desire to see more of God and less of yourself.
Take, for example, Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Instead of focusing on the “I can do” part, what if you meditated on the “him who strengthens me” part? Your mind will be prodded to meditate in a fresh way of God’s grace to enable you to make it through your trials and empower you for your successes.
Don’t let dull days get you down
As much as it would be great to have an amazing spiritual encounter every time we read the Bible, I admit that is not always my experience. Sometimes nothing “hits” me. But I know that my emotional response is not what makes God’s word do its work in my life. That’s the Spirit’s job.
So if you find that there are some days where your Bible reading seems less impactful, don’t be discouraged. You and I have only to be faithful to read God’s word with the thirst of a deer panting for water. More times than not, when we open the Bible with that kind of neediness the streams will taste quite fresh.
Eric McKiddie serves as Pastor for Gospel Community at the Chapel Hill Bible Church He helps pastors grow as well-rounded ministers of the gospel at his blog, Pastoralized, and through sermon coaching.