Chances are if you are reading this you have read the bible at some point in your life either alone, with others, or maybe even at church. It is easy to say think about reading your bible, but getting to the place where you find the time, space, and right frame of mind to actually do it is a different story. Why is this? Probably because we have all had these experiences in reading the bible personally and it is just kind of ho hum, mediocre, or maybe just ok. We hear the value of it, we want the transformation of our souls of what we believe it will produce, but day after day that bible sits on our nightstand collecting dust.
Sound familiar? I know it is for me, I have had lots of good intentions for bible reading and countless times I have felt the wind from my sails being sucked away when those times are just kind of eh.
What is the problem? I am finding that the problem with bible reading is not so much reading the bible but an internal heart issue that I need to submit to God. The crazy thing is that if you want to get to the heart of the problem you have to actually go to God’s word in order to find the cure. Here is what we know about the Bible from the Bible according to Paul from 2 Timothy 3.16-17 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
All Scripture is God breathed
This means that it is pure, true, and without defect. The source of the word of God is God, and he is perfect and because he is perfect and without error, so is his word. This means that the problem with reading the bible is not with the bible with us, this is why I believe that we should not read the bible but allow the bible to read us. What does this mean? It means we place our lives under the authority of the word of God that is breathed out by God. It means that we subject our lives to the true words of scripture and we depend upon God in prayer for this as a means of our transformation. God’s word trains us, it rebukes us, and it corrects, and conforms us into the image of Jesus making us holy, as he is holy.
When we take the problem of our heart and place it under the submission of God’s word we see from God that we are actually forgiven. How do we know that? Well, God’s word tells us, and it also tells us of the freedom that God gives for our everyday life. Go ahead see for it yourself it is right there in Ephesians 1.7-10 and also Romans 3.23-24 and in a whole lot more places in the bible.
However, the argument I want to make today is that making it a habit of your heart to allow the word of God to read you will change your life. It takes time, it may seem rigorous, and it may even feel boring. But when a heart is submitted to the word of God based on the forgiveness we received in Christ Jesus the word is ALWAYS at work.
How do I begin to allow the bible to read me?
Step 1: Pray, God Help Me! Notice that the first step is prayer, because even in our bible reading we are acknowledging that we are dependent upon God to experience a work of his grace.
Step 2: Choose a book of the bible to study. However tempting it may be to just pick up the bible and pick a passage blindly, don’t do it! You need a plan of action, and a plan that gives you the opportunity to read passages in their entirety for your growth.
Step 3: Create a habit. If you want bible reading to penetrate your heart you need to make it a habit of the heart. This needs to be a regular occurrence in your life. I really believe making it a daily habit is best, but I also realize that starting there is difficult. What if you carved out 30 minutes a day for 3 days during the week? The Holy Spirit will work to rearrange your hearts desires so that this is not only something you have to do, but want to do.
Step 4: Use a plan. Reading the bible verse by verse for a 30-minute chunk of time can seam daunting, but this is where we allow the bible to read us. There is a tried and true tool that allows for us take our lives and submit them to God’s word in order for it to read our lives.
· Observation: What does it say?
· Interpretation: What does it mean? How does this passage point me to Jesus?
· Application: How can I live out, or walk in obedience to the truth of God’s word?
Step 5: Read with others. Personal bible reading is important, but make sure you neglect reading God’s word with others. This is why at CrossPointe we have community groups where we can learn and discuss and allow what we have read in God’s word together to impact our lives as a church body.
Finally, I want to ask the question what is the goal? Every good beginning should have a good end in mind. What is the end? It’s helpful to know that Bible reading is just a means to the end. This means that when we allow the bible to read us it leads us to beyond simply the reading of the bible and into worship. Bible reading fans the flames of our love of God, it causes us to be confronted with our sin and empowers us by grace to walk in obedience. The bible melts our hard hearts and it does so by ushering us to the feet of Jesus who died so that we might live.
We go to the Bible because the bible points us to Jesus and reveals to us that he is the word of God and life unto our souls (John 1.1-18).
Here is more on the plan: http://www.thevillagechurch.net/sermon/tools-for-studying-the-bible/