The start of the year is typically a type for starting new hobbies, making new plans and coming up with resolutions. Yesterday we looked at how we can use this time of year to resolve to live worthily of the calling we have received to be sons and daughters of God. Today we are going to start thinking about practical steps we can take towards that goal.
The best starting point in growth in your relationship with God is the 66 book letter He has written to us. If we want to get better direction from God, if we want new perspective, fresh insight, greater wisdom or more intimacy with Him it all flows from getting into His Word. Often people flock to the latest trendy speaker hoping to ‘get a word’, or go to a location that they think God is going to meet them at, but the most sure-fire way to hear from God is to simply open up the Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you through it. The Bible is the living Word of God, sharper than any two edged sword, as relevant to us today as when it was written.
This year as we strive to live worthy of the calling we have received may we head the instruction given to Joshua. “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua 1:8. This goes beyond simply reading for the sake of ticking it off a to-do list – we are not just to read the Word, but meditate on it. To chew it over it on mind, to let it penetrate deep into our soul and change us from the inside out.
So how do we do it? The Bible can seem daunting, and often we keep to the “easy” segments – the classic Sunday School stories, the Gospels, and the Instagram-friendly inspirational verses. But Paul reminds us that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” 2 Timothy 3:16. The whole Bible is God’s word, and if we want to become more and more like Jesus we must study it all, for it all points to Him. In the old Testament we see Christ prophesied, in the Gospels we see Christ proclaimed, in the Epistles we see Christ explained, and in Revelation we see Christ’s return expected. The whole Bible is a book about Jesus, about the love that God has for us. So we must get into the whole Bible.
For different people that will look differently. You may be an avid reader, and Bible reading comes naturally to you. Others will find it more of a struggle to sit down and read (and fortunately we are blessed to live in a day when you can download the Bible app onto your phone and get audio versions to listen to while you go for a run or do the ironing). In different seasons of life Bible reading will look different.
At times you may want to read broadly, trying to get a sense of the big picture of the Bible and get through the whole Bible in a year, or two years. (There are many great plans that can split it into chronological segments, or incorporate Old and New Testament passages together so you are reading varied sections. Some such as the have a reading for each day such as the M’Cheyne Plan, others such as the Discipleship Journal Plan have slightly longer daily readings but 5 catch-up days per month.) A good list of plans can be found here: Ligonier
At others times you may want to narrow down, picking a book and studying it in depth, reading slowly, using commentary books such as The Bible Speaks Today series or the ____For You series by the GoodBook Company.
What is important is that you develop the habit of daily dedicated time with God, and that you come to your time in the Word expectant that He will speak to you. It may be helpful to keep a notebook to write down a key takeway. We will look more in the coming days at how to get the most out of time studying the Bible – the important principle for today is that you start the year right by making God’s Word your priority and meditating on it day and night, letting it teaching, train and correct you.