Tuesday, October 9, 2012

TTF Piece 5: Word of God

            Before I went through the furnace, I loved God’s Word.  And I valued it immensely.  And at different times in my life, I would immerse myself in it.  But at others, I would realize that I didn’t take it out for weeks.  I knew it was important . . . I just didn’t live like it was important enough to be read every day.  (I’m just being honest here.)  I was so busy with life that I convinced myself that it was enough to listen to godly music and read godly books.  Scripture was extra.  Beneficial, but not as inspiring as music and inspirational books.  And frankly, it was so familiar that it was boring and just not doing much for me anymore. 
            And as far as prayer was concerned, when I used to have my insomniac-ish nights, I would lay there and quiet my mind and pray, asking God to speak to me . . . in the hopes that by silencing my mind, I would actually be able to fall asleep.  I didn’t really want to hear from Him.  I just wanted sleep. 
            But now, after the furnace, the Word has become so alive to me.  And prayer has become a life-line - an intimate, mind-boggling connection to my Heavenly Father.  In fact, now I find that I have a hard time falling asleep because I don’t want to miss anything that He might want to tell me in the quietness and stillness of my heart and mind.  It’s amazing to me that I, a lowly little worm, could communicate with the God who created the heavens and the earth, and that He actually wants to hear from me all the time.  It’s very humbling. 


            I have found a hunger and a thirst for the Word and prayer that I never knew was possible.  The Bible is not just God’s words to me anymore, but God’s heart being poured out to me.  I am overcome with a deep, insatiable hunger to meet God in His Word and in prayer.  This is the God of the universe, who is available to us and who wants to meet with us daily. 

            And we’d rather be watching television or reading a magazine or sleeping.  Mind-blowing!   

            Now, raise your hand if you feel like reading the Bible is extra-credit?  If it’s something that you do when you need a boost or want brownie points with God or to get out of a mess?  Now . . . honestly . . . how many of you didn’t put your hands up, but your lifestyle and the Holy Spirit are raising their hands for you? 

            During those times when my Bible sat on the shelf, I was still a “good Christian,” doing the things that “good Christians” do.  I just didn’t need the Word desperately.  I didn’t meet God in the pages.  I read about Him, but I didn’t read to meet with Him.  It seemed so removed from my time and my life.  The Old Testament, in particular, was boring.  This person came from that person, and that people fought those people, and the Israelites did this wrong and that wrong and walked around and around and around, blah, blah, blah!
            For so long, I used to read the Old Testament like it was  . . . well . . . history.  It was the story of other people’s - ancient people’s - relationship with God.  But as I went through the furnace, I began to see myself in the Israelites of the Old Testament.  I began to see the things that they did wrong and how I do those same things today, in my own way.  I am guilty of grumbling about my situation, just like they did.  I am so capable of forgetting God’s goodness to me and His power and abilities, just like they did.  I have seen the greatness of God in so many ways, and then I turn around and commit sins against Him, acting as though He is not really there or does not really care.  Just as they did.  I have my own idols!  Not quite as golden and bovine as they had, but it still takes my focus off of God. 
            And then, I saw how God responded to them and their sins, and I was humbled. 
            And the New Testament?  Well, the New Testament was good.  I liked the New Testament!  Lots of good advice about living and about pleasing God and information about Jesus and His life.  But after being a Christian for over two decades, it was so familiar that it, too, was boring.  It was like staring at the back of my hand.  I had basically lived with it my whole life, and I couldn’t find any new inspiration in it anymore.  All I would have to hear were the first three words of a passage and I’d be like, “Yeah, yeah, I know that one.”  The Bible was not consistently alive to me . . . yet! 

            I think in our day and age of being too familiar and comfortable with God and His Word, we have lost the sense of awe and fear of God and His Word.  It’s too familiar, and we are too comfortable.  We have heard these stories again and again.  And so we take giant gulps of Scripture without really meditating on it, and we check it off our list and get on with our day.  Or we pick it apart so that we can piece it back together again in a way we like better, twisting it for our own ends. 
            We have lost the ability to put ourselves into the stories.  To see God for who He really is.  To stand with the Israelites at the foot of the mountain when they trembled at the powerful voice of God.  We need to start seeing ourselves in the stories and in the people of the Bible if we are to learn from them, if we are to understand what God wants us to know through them and to let it change our lives and our hearts (instead of just educating our minds).  So many people can know the Bible forward and backward without ever meeting God there.
            And, sadly, I know lots of people who are in that same place that I’ve been in (and that I still find myself in from time to time).  They say things like, “Oh, I know I should read my Bible more, but . . . Well, I guess I need to try to get up earlier or something.  It’s just so hard with my job … or the kids … or whatever.” 

            Or there are those who don’t even feel the need to read the Bible more.  They have the sense that people in general should read their Bibles more, but they themselves don’t feel convicted strongly enough to care.  “Just enough of the Bible and of God to get by” is good enough for them.  How tragic!  (I mean, seriously, when a supposedly huge percentage of America’s population calls themselves “Christian” and we have the kinds of problems and moral-deficiencies that we do, something major is wrong.  And I think it’s that a huge percentage of the people – of “Christians” -- don’t care to really know and live what the Bible says.) 

            I think that we, as Christians, are missing out on a vibrancy and a passion in our lives and our walks because we don’t take these two things seriously enough: prayer and God’s Word.  If we are only half-committed to meeting with God in prayer and His Word, we will have only a partial relationship with Him.  We’ll get just enough of God to make us feel good, but we will miss out on “great” - on a vibrant, living relationship with Him.  And we can’t blame Him for that.  We are as close to Him as we work to be. 
            If we don’t seek Him wholeheartedly and deliberately and diligently, we will miss out on the genuine brokenness and humility that come with drawing near to God on this journey.  And while this guidebook may be a good tool to help us find any hindrances in our walks with Him, the only real Guide - real Truth - is God’s Word.  Do not go forth in your life or on this journey without it.  Do not try to get close to Him through just your accomplishments and efforts.  Get to know Him as He reveals Himself to be.  Through His Word.     
            Unfortunately, many of us have scars and fears that put up walls around our hearts to keep them “safe,” even from God.  These stem from hurts in our past and misconceptions that we developed a long time ago.  (Which we will explore later.)  But these walls prevent us from trusting others enough to relax around them, to let them into our hearts and lives.  Even with God.  They compel us to be nothing less than completely self-sufficient and in-control, and they cause us to try to earn our way with others.  Even with God.  And that prevents our relationship with the Lord from being all that it should be. 

 
            Okay, I am going to delve in deep and do my best to convince you that time in the Word - Daily! - is crucial to your spiritual walk.  But I’m sure that there will be some of you that will roll your eyes.  I mean, we’ve all been told over and over again how important it is to read our Bibles.  Blah, blah, blah!  Yes, we know the Word is important.  We know that we should read it more and that we should spend daily, quiet time with God.  But . . . we just don’t get around to doing it. 
            Why is that?  Seriously?  What is stopping us from doing what we know we should do?  I think that if we can pinpoint why we are lazy in this discipline and do away with it, it would free us up from the false notion that it’s “extra-credit.”  So let me start with exploring some reasons for why we don’t read our Bibles more.  And many of these come from reflecting upon my own reasons or excuses for letting my Bible sit on a shelf. 
            (And just so you know, I don’t always succeed at reading it as much as I wish I did, even now.  It’s a daily journey and battle sometimes because life is busy.  I have four young children at home, and that is a full-time job in itself.  But what’s different now is that I am convicted when I don’t read it.  I feel like something in my life is missing.  And I seek to rectify it, instead of making up some excuse or rationalization.  And I do have a passion, a love, and a hunger for the Word that I never did before.  I meet God in the pages now, instead of just reading about Him.  And that’s what’s different about it now.) 
 

            See if any of these reasons for not reading our Bibles resonate with you:
            Reason Number 1:  I just don’t care.  It’s just too old and boring to bother to set aside the time to dig in deeply.  I like life the way it is, and I’d rather be reading other books, or tinkering around in my garage or kitchen, or watching television.  I just don’t feel like I have to read it. 
            (A numb conscience is a dangerous thing.  You are putting out a “welcome mat” for disaster in your spiritual life.)   

 
            Reason Number 2:  Scripture is so familiar that I don’t think I’m missing out on anything by not reading it.  It’s old news.  I know what it says.  I’ve gone through it so many times that I can’t seem to find any life in it anymore. 
            (I’m going to guess that if this is the case, it’s because we are looking at it as a guidebook, like the instruction manual for a stereo.  “Once you’ve read it, you know all you need to know to make it work.”  We value it only for what we can get out of it.  And we haven’t learned that it is alive and that God speaks through it to us today.  And that we actually meet Him and get to know Him in those pages.) 

 
            Reason Number 3:  I want to read it more and feel like I should, but I am so busy.  I have my job, dirty dishes, laundry, school, kids, sports, cooking, etc.  I have such little downtime that I can’t add one more item to my To Do list.  And God understands, right?  I mean, doesn’t He see all the other things that I am doing for Him? 
            (Face it, not having time is a choice that we make.  We make time for the things that are important to us.  And so I’m going to guess that if this is your excuse, you haven’t yet learned to see how relevant and soul-satisfying the Word of God is.  You don’t meet the living God in the pages of the Bible.  They are just words on a page to you.  Good words; but old, familiar words.  You haven’t got to the point where you’ve learned that you need these words of life because it’s what fills your soul and sustains you throughout your busy days.  You are living a self-sufficient and self-focused life.)


            Reason Number 4:  I might be actively or passively avoiding it because I don’t want to be convicted by anything that it might reveal to me.  I don’t want to be responsible for what I might uncover, or face the true condition of myself, or see how far short I fall of His holy standards.  I don’t like to be faced with my failures and shortcomings.  I’d rather just close my eyes to it - or close the Book, as it may be.  And so I avoid reading it or contemplating it too deeply.  That way I can get just enough God to feel good about myself, but not too much that it makes me uncomfortable. 
            (Closing your eyes doesn’t change what the Bible says and what God requires of us.  And we certainly won’t be able to close our eyes when we stand before Him and give account for how we lived our lives.)       


            Reason Number 5:  Hey, I’m doing pretty good on my own.  I’m a good Christian.  I serve at church, I say and do the “right” things, I volunteer, and I sing.  I behave as I should.  I know what the Bible says and I do my best to abide by it.  But I don’t need to really read it daily also, right?  Not when I am already following its principles.  What more can reading it do for me anyway, besides tell me stuff I already know and am doing? 
            (It’s not about following the principles of the Bible as much as it is about meeting God in the pages.  And we can so easily get off track if we are not immersing ourselves in the Word daily.  But we won’t even realize it!)  


            Reason Number 6:  It’s just a duty.  It’s an item on a To Do list that needs to get done just so I can check it off.  And so I don’t really see much point to it or much benefit in it.  But if this is what God thinks I should do - for whatever reason - then I guess I’ll try to get around to doing it. 
            (Uhh . . . gee . . . thanks, I guess.  Mighty big of you!)   


            Reason Number 7:  I get enough of God through sermons and Christian music.  And my spouse reads it and tells me what it says.  I also read lots of inspirational books on God and about how other people apply His Word to their lives.  And I get enough from all of that.  I don’t really need to sit down and read it for myself.  It’s much more exciting when I hear it in music or in a sermon. 
            (Does God share this view?  Read the Bible and find out.  Yes, it’s great to get His Word in any and every form, but I think there is something much more powerful about making it a daily discipline to meet with Him in quiet on your own – in the Word that HE gave us, instead of the words someone else gives us.)


            Reason Number 8:  Besides, other civilizations and ancient people didn’t have the Bible to read.  And they did just fine without it.  If it wasn’t necessary for them, it can’t really be necessary for us, too. 
            (It’s here now.  And it must have been written and preserved for nearly 2,000 years for a reason.  And let’s considered what is happening to our society and our country’s morality as we get farther and farther away from God’s Word.  Is that really what we want?)   


            Reason Number 9:  And on top of that, the Bible doesn’t command quiet, personal time in the Word, does it?  I never read a verse that said, “Thou shalt spend thirty minutes a day reading this Book.”  Right?  So how crucial is it really when the Bible itself doesn’t say that we “have to read it every day.”
            (Really!?!  Does the Bible have to say, “Read Me,” for you to believe that a Book from God is meant to be read?  And once again, does God share this view?  Read the Bible and see what God says about the importance of dwelling on His Word.)


            Reason Number 10:  You know what, I don’t like to be told what to do or to be forced to do anything.  Then it’s not really a genuine desire on my part anyway.  So I’ll just show you all how good of a Christian I can be without being forced into your idea of what’s necessary. 
            (We don’t say it out loud, but many of us refuse to do the things that others expect us to do, just because they expect us to do them.  It’s that old rebellious, prideful spirit.)


            Reason Number 11:  It’s too hard to understand. 
            (And it will continue to be until you read it more.  Pray for the Spirit to open your eyes.)


            Reason Number 12:  My parents or neighbor or friend used to use the Bible as a sword to hack others to pieces, or they forced it down my throat.  And so it’s left a bad taste in my mouth.
            (Don’t let your spiritual life suffer because others misrepresented or “used” God the wrong way.  They will be accountable to God for how they represented Him, but you will be accountable to God for how you respond to and represent Him.)


            Reason Number 13:  I want more emotional, dynamic experiences of God.  I want to find Him in miracles and nature and inside myself, instead of inside some old Book. 
            (To seek God only through these kinds of experiences while neglecting the Word can lead to dangerous places.)


            Reason Number 14:  I have concerns with what seem like discrepancies in the Bible.  And I don’t like the hard-to-swallow images of God as being wrathful or killing people. 
            (The more you study the history of the Bible, the people of that time, the commentaries, the Hebrew and Greek meanings of words, the character of God, and the many good books that deal with the “discrepancies,” the more solid the Bible becomes.  Don’t let this excuse stop you from digging in deeper.  And the more you come to understand His holiness and justness, the more clearly you will understand His wrath and judgments.  And the more you read, the more you will see how great His love is.) 


            Reason Number 15:  I’m just plain old lazy.  Self-serving.  I’m not known for my self-discipline.  And I am entitled to my own happiness, and I won’t let “shoulds” infringe on that.
            (That’s your choice.) 


            Reason Number 16:  Yes, I know I should read more, but . . .  


            I think that what all this comes down to is that we are not passionate about God’s Word because we are not passionate about God.  We haven’t yet seen Him for who He really is (as opposed to our own ideas of Him) and we haven’t yet fallen in love with Him.  Sure, we love Him, but we are not wholeheartedly consumed by Him.  Because when we are consumed with someone, we hang on their every word.      
            And the only way to get past this is to confess it to God, to ask the Holy Spirit for help in understanding God’s Word, and . . . to read it.  Read it as though God has something to say to you personally - about your life - through it.  Read it as though He is in the pages, waiting to speak to you. 

            The Bible isn’t about ancient people’s sins from yesteryear; it’s about our sins today.  It’s not about an old-time God; it’s about the greatness, holiness, and love of the God who lives today.  Once we grasp this - once we read the Bible as relevant and alive - it becomes much more powerful and applicable to our lives.  It is so full of rich life lessons and so full of the power, glory, mercy, wrath, grace, and love of God - the God who is the same today as He was then.  And it humbles us, like trembling children at His feet.  The fear of God!

            Don’t read because it’s on your To Do list.  Read with expectancy, read to meet God in the pages and to come face to face with the truth about yourself.  Read it to learn about His holiness, His love, and His goodness.  Start wherever you are (or from the beginning) and read slowly until the Holy Spirit illuminates a verse or passage for you.  Write it down and mull over it, asking God to impress it upon your heart and to tell you what it means for you. 
            For a time, it may feel foreign and stiff.  But once you have been humbled before Him, the Bible will pulsate with life and His love and His holiness and His glory.  You will be convicted that all your excuses were rubbish.  And that all your self-righteous efforts to be that “good Christian” meant nothing because you were not really humbly connecting with God as He is.   
            Once you learn that you meet the living, holy God in the words of His Book, you will not want to go too long without it.  You will be driven to it.  You will discover an insatiable hunger and thirst for meeting God in the Word and in prayer.  You will want to dig deeper to uncover all the treasures you can find.  You will be driven to find the Bible’s answers to life’s questions.  And you will become protective of your time with Him.   

 
            But can’t we still be good Christians without so much emphasis on the Bible?  I mean, other groups don’t have it.  How can we claim that it’s crucial?  Well, first of all, those other people (as well as God) are relying on us (those who have the Word) to get it to them.  What a sad reversal to say that since they don’t have it, we don’t need it.  No, it should be that since we have it and they don’t, we need to do our best to get it to them, which includes immersing ourselves in it so that we can live it and share its truths.
            Yes, even groups of people that don’t have the Word can live God-glorifying lives and can find salvation, because God has put eternity and the moral code into the hearts of all people.  When we all stand before God, no one will have an excuse for why they didn’t believe in Him.  He makes it possible for all people to come to Him. 
            But this should not stop those of us who have the Word from placing a premium on the Word.  If people who do not have the Word can live by the moral code that God has placed in their hearts, how much more should we who have the additional revelations of God in His Word live by what He has revealed to us?  We will all be accountable, I believe, for what we do with the revelations we have received, whether natural, heart-felt revelations or scriptural. 
            But to answer the first question . . . Yes, you can still be a good Christian without daily Bible reading.  But is “good” enough?  Are we content with “good” doctors, “good” school systems, “good” pastors, “good” friendships, “good” marriages?  So why would we think that God is satisfied with “good” Christians?   
            We don’t just want “good” lives, do we?  We want fulfilling, deeply satisfying lives.  We want to be challenged, to reach higher, to become the best version of ourselves that we can be.  We want passion and vibrancy in life.  We want to know that there is so much more out there than what we face in our day-to-day, monotonous lives.  “Good” is not enough.  We want more!
            Well, I think that this is God’s desire, too.  He wants to see us reaching higher and striving more.  He wants us to live passionate, vibrant, wholly-open-to-Him lives.  He wants us to live diligently and earnestly.  These are qualities that He admires, that He desires to see more of in His followers. 

            Proverbs 10:4:  “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.”

            Deuteronomy 6:5:  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. . . .”

            Colossians 3:23:  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” 

            And once again, 1 Corinthians 10:31:  “. . . whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

            He’s not content or satisfied with “good” either.  Because “good” doesn’t do justice for His glory.  It isn’t the good, mediocre people that really inspire others, that create in others a hunger for God and for righteousness.  Our mediocre, lukewarm attitude toward the Bible and prayer will only produce mediocre, lukewarm Christians with mediocre, lukewarm influence on others.  Is that what we want? 
            The ones whose lives really speak about the greatness of knowing God are the ones who live out of a deep, abiding, passionate relationship with Him, even if (especially if) their lives are full of pain.  And they don’t even have to be vocal about it or obvious in all the ways they serve God.  Their lives will speak it.  Their humble, sincere, loving hearts will testify for them. 
            But this kind of passionate, powerful witness does not come from lazy disciplines.  It does not just happen in us as we go about our day, letting our Bibles sit in the dust on our shelves and passing up deep times in prayer.  We have to pursue Him diligently, in prayer and in His Word.  When is the last time that you drank deeply from the Word?  That you poured your heart out in prayer?              

            You know, I think the only thing Satan considers better than a non-Christian or a rebellious Christian is a comfortable Christian.  If he can keep us comfortable, convinced that our current efforts are “good enough” and that God is pleased with our service, then he can keep us from a closer relationship with God and from having a powerful impact on God’s kingdom.  He can keep us from the conviction and the healing and the passion that would set our hearts free and create in us a deep, insatiable fire to see God glorified above all else.  We can’t be passionate for His glory if we are not passionate about Him.  And our disciplines of prayer and Bible reading will tell us more about the true condition of our hearts than will our service and our good, Christian talk.

            I know that there are those who will disagree, thinking “I am doing just fine without daily reading and constant prayer!  And I’m sure that you are . . . doing just fine!  I myself would have been miffed, too, at this kind of hoity-toity, holier-than-thou point of view just a few years ago, before the furnace and before being broken.  But I can’t pamper those kinds of self-satisfying, self-comforting notions anymore.  And I think it needs to be shared that God’s Word - the foundation of our faith and all that we are - places a much greater premium on God’s Word and prayer than we do. 
            But I do so much for Him, you might be thinking.  He knows how much I sacrifice my time for Him.  It just keeps me so busy. 

            If He has our hearts, no matter what service we do - singing, volunteering, changing diapers, doing dishes - we will be bringing Him glory.  But if He doesn’t have our hearts, then no matter how brilliant and sacrificial our “service” for God is, our service will really be for us.  It is self-glorifying and it’s to help us earn points with God, to buy His love and favor.
            If we are not intimately connected with God through prayer and His Word, then our service is not really for Him.  If we are singing or leading or teaching or serving without a diligent passion for the Word and for prayer, then I would hazard a guess that we are singing and leading and teaching and serving for ourselves, even if we think we are doing it for Him.  We cannot glorify God with our service if we do not consider Him important enough to meet with daily, if we do not care enough about what He has to say to us to put aside the necessary time to listen. 
            Humans are incredibly capable of self-deception, of convincing ourselves that we are doing okay on our own or on our current path.  This is why the Word is so crucial, not just extra.  The Word is the only, absolute Truth that there is.  And yet so many of us put it aside thinking that we have a pretty good handle on life.  (And look at the moral confusion it is causing nowadays.  Even whole churches don’t seem to know what the Bible really says about things.) 
            But if we are not in the Word, we are nibbling our way lost and growing content with being off-track.  The Word is what calls us back to the right path.  The Word is what will convict us of areas that need to be addressed, that will show us the higher and more righteous way to live, and that will train our hearts and minds in Truth.  Without regular use of it, you can bet that you are off-track.  But you won’t know it.  Is ignorance really bliss?

            He doesn’t really want our service if He doesn’t have our hearts.  And I think that we oftentimes give Him our service to cover up for our lack of heart.  But it only fools ourselves and others (some of the time).  It doesn’t fool Him!  And until we face this in ourselves and admit to it honestly and seek to change it, we will be living mediocre, lukewarm lives.  And we will deceive ourselves into believing that we are doing “good” enough.        

            But, Oh, the vibrant life that we could have!  The life that comes with digging deeply into the Word and treasuring all of the jewels of wisdom that it has to share.  The life that comes with meeting God in the pages and in prayer, and humbling ourselves before Him by uncovering our hearts in transparency and allowing His Spirit to convict, heal, comfort, inspire, and empower our spirits.  Oh, the powerful witness that we could have for His kingdom and His glory . . . if only.  If only we would learn to value the Word and prayer as much as God does.      
 

Challenge:

            Make a commitment to meet with God through prayer and the Word daily.  Set aside a certain amount of time daily and keep it for at least one month and see how your life changes.  Read it to meet God in it, not just to check it off your To Do list.  Read it with these questions as filters:  What does it teach me about God today?  What does it teach me about myself today?  And how can I apply it to my life? 
            I, for one, think it is best to read it in the morning, before your day begins.  It’s kinda like tithing.  God asks for the first-fruits, the best of what you have.  And so it makes sense to give Him the first-fruits of our day, too; the best time, when we are fresh and receptive and not busy with the next task at hand.  And I think this is a general teaching in the Bible, too. 

            Psalm 5:3:  “In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation.” 


            Mark 1:35:  “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

            This is not a hard and fast rule, because there is no one right way to meet with God.  We should be connecting with Him all day, actually.  But when it comes to a set-aside Bible and prayer time, I think it’s best to give Him the best part of our day.  Not when we are exhausted or distracted, but when we can really dig in deep to His Word and spend quality time in prayer. 
            And there are those whose best time may be in the evening or over lunch break.  The point is, meet God in the Word and in prayer daily.  Make it a priority.  The Bible is God’s absolute Truth, the revealed wisdom and Will and guidebook of God.   
            Here is a challenge, if you really think that you are too busy to read the Bible:  Take stock of your day and see how many wasted moments there are.  Moments that you are waiting in line or on the train or in the car (as a passenger, of course.)  Could you bring a pocket Bible with you to read during these times?  (Or have a passage written down on a notecard that you carry around with you.) 
            Or think about all the time you spend doing worthless, unproductive, and possibly unglorifying things.  Give serious thought to how you spend your time.  What TV shows do you watch?  What books or magazines do you read?  What kind of web-surfing or on-line stuff do you do?  How about hobbies?  Would a little of that time be better spent in the Word?
            Do you know that if you watch a one-hour television show every day for a year, you’ve just spent 21,900 minutes filling your head with unnecessary, temporary (most likely unglorifying) stuff?  But setting aside fifteen minutes every day to read the Bible is too much for your schedule?  In one year, that would be just 5,475 minutes.  5,475 minutes out of 525,600 minutes for an entire year.  Replace one half-hour show (or a half-hour on the phone or computer) with the Bible and you would be spending 10,950 minutes a year getting to know God.  I can’t think of a better use of nearly 11,000 minutes!  11,000 minutes investing in your relationship with God!      
 

Questions for Reflection: 

1.  Finish this sentence:  “To me, the Bible is . . .”  (Be honest.  And keep answering it until you’ve said all you have to say about it.)     



2.  What does my life and the way I “walk” say about my view of the Bible?  Would other people think that the Bible (and that God) was really important to me if they saw how I lived, talked, and spent my time?  What specifically shows that I value it and live it out, and what shows that I don’t?  


3.  How often do I read it? 


4.  Do I read it because I have to, because I want to, or because I hunger for it?  Why do I read it?  What do I get out reading it? 


5.  What are my past or earliest experiences with the Bible?  How have they shaped me?


6.  How do my views about the Bible differ from God’s view of the Word?  (Look up verses to see what God says about His Word.  Or maybe read chapter 21 in my life-story called “Digging Deep” in Child of Mine on this blog.)


7.  What is my “best time” to be in the Word?  Could I commit to reading it daily?


8.  Is God convicting me about anything in this area?  Are there any changes I need to make?  Will I do what He’s asking me to do?


Prayer and Bible Work: 
 
            In prayer, admit to God your current attitude toward the Bible and your current Bible-reading habits if they are not good.  Confess shortcomings and doubts when you need to, and ask for the Holy Spirit’s help to make the Word “living and active” for you. 
            Then do a study and compile all the verse you can find on the importance of God’s Word.  Write them down and go through each one, praying that the Holy Spirit gives you insight about what it should mean to you.  (Or go back and read “Chapter 21: Digging Deep” in Child of Mine.)  Here are some verses to start with:  (And, of course, I’m going to have you look them up yourself.)

            Psalm 1:2 

            Psalm 119

            Deuteronomy 4:29

            2 Timothy 2:15, 3:16, 4:1-4

            Hebrews 4:12, 5:14  
 

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A place for your thoughts and questions. If you would like, think of this as a big, online, "book-club" meeting where you can all interact, answer each other's questions, and encourage each other. Please keep comments godly and uplifting because I will delete any that are mean or clearly ungodly. I want this to be an encouraging, safe place to interact. God bless!