“All scripture is God- breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” II Timothy 3:16-17
If we are to draw closer to God, we need to spend time in His word. What are your thoughts regarding the Bible? Do you believe the above scripture? Or do you tend to ‘pick and choose’ which reading fits what you are looking for?
Do you know what the scriptures say? Have your read the Bible through? I am not trying to throw you on a guilt trip here- just think we all need to be real with ourselves. How can we discount something if we do not know what it says?
Brought up in the church most of my childhood, I knew that Jesus loves, Jesus saves. When I got to a Christian college, I needed to take a Bible class. Someone had the audacity to say Jesus got angry and threw a tantrum outside the temple. I was horrified someone would say such a thing!
Until I read it myself. (Matthew 21:12-13) How horrified was I to realize I had a lot to learn! Yes, Jesus loves! Yes, Jesus save! Yes, Jesus had righteous anger, and demonstrated it!
When I got really serious about reading the Bible, which unfortunately was not until a few years later, I decided it was high time to read it the whole way through. I love Bible studies and classes at church- I always get so much from others comments, and others are so kind to listen to me and answer questions. But, I did not realize many things until I read the Bible through for myself.
What sparked my decision? I began homeschooling our oldest (only school-age child at the time!) daughter. I was determined my children would grow up knowing the word of God. I had always told them about God, taken them to church, read the Bible stories, and prayed with them.
But when we began homeschooling, and I needed to teach Bible as a subject, I realized this teacher better know her subject! Thankfully, I started out with first grade! We used a text in addition to our Bible, the text was Leading Little Ones to God. I must say, at times I thought this book was misnamed. It can lead big ones to God too! It is a fantastic book to simplify all the tenements of faith, and explain in real, understandable terms what the Bible says. (And by the way, if you have never read the Bible through, you may be truly surprised! Anything that happens under the sun, is covered in the Bible. Anything. So if you are reading it to your kids, be prepared to define words like prostitution, concubine, and adultery, to name a few.)
I read the Bible through in less than a year the first time. I had notebooks filled with quotes from scripture, (revelations to me!). And I first realized God promises many things! I began listing those promises, relying on a few. Praying a few. Trusting in God much more than I had before.
This time frame coincided with our family moving to yet another new city, but my reading it was no coincidence. My husband traveled four days a week for work. We had no family there. But I had God. Most importantly, I learned what God said. And, I can testify, since I read through His Word in 2004, I have seen for myself that God does not break His promises.
I have asked what I thought was impossible (yet not ungodly!), and He delivered. When my heart has been broken, time and time again, I know He is there, holding my tears in His hands. When I truly did not think I possessed any more strength, He carried me. When I cried out asking Him to help me believe, faith was in my heart.
I never would have made it through cancer treatment had I not read the Bible through. In chemo I could not always remember exact quotes (chemo brain, the medical profession calls it!), yet the meaning was in my heart.
One of the more difficult moments I had in chemo, I cried out, “God, I do not even know where to begin in prayer!” I had my Bible in my hands, and turned to Romans 8. I was thinking of reading Romans 8:28 again to remind myself God would use even this for good. But my eyes happened to settle a few verses above “In the same way the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Romans 8:26 It was exactly what I needed at that moment. And God was delivering once again, giving me a verse when I had forgotten it existed. But since that moment, I have never forgotten Romans 8:26!
I did not memorize the Bible the first time I read it, (or any subsequent time thereafter). But each time I read it, something new stands out. I memorize more scripture, I learn where I can find more stories, things stick in my mind. In short, time in God’s word is never wasted!
I have learned that the more Scripture you know, the closer you are to God, the more you can draw from Him, and help someone else.
Thinking about this post for the past week, I contemplated giving you reasons why we should believe the Bible is God breathed. My husband and I taught a Bible class last spring quarter, examining this very topic. We came up with all kinds of archeological evidence, historical evidence, and scriptural evidence. At some future point, I think I will post it. But I really felt I should explain beyond academics here. This is personal. I know He is real. I know His word is real. I honestly do not believe you could talk me out of it. I have seen too much, lived through too much. I really believe God is who He says He is. And if you are not there at this moment, I encourage you to investigate it. Read the Bible through. Ask God to reveal Himself to you. You will not be disappointed.
I have asked, and been asked myself, where do you start when you read the Bible through? I personally usually begin in the New Testament. Why? For me, it is about hearing what Jesus said, and trying to learn from His teaching. What an incredible teacher! He knew his time on earth was brief, so what was recorded has true significance. And, here is a great place to begin discovering how much God loves you! After the New Testament, I read the Old Testament. My mother-in-law summed it up perfectly once, when she said, ‘you need to read the Old Testament in order to understand the why? of the New Testament’. The Old Testament clarifies the reason Jesus needed to give His life to save us.
But, the order is not nearly as important as just reading it, in any order. Thanks for reading, this l-o-n-g post!
Reflection questions: What do I know about the Bible? What would I like to learn?
Action: 1) Pray for God to show you Himself!
2) Determine a time, most days of the week, where I can read the Bible.
3) Determine where to start. You do not need an entire reading plan, just a starting place. Once you get going, you will find where to go when you complete the starting book.
5) You may want to find an “accountability” partner, someone who will ask how your reading is going. Maybe, someone will read with you!
Please return next Monday, January 23, Lord willing, for a look at encouragement.