The turn of a new year is a time when people make resolutions. We do this because deep down we want to grow and change.
If you would like to grow in your relationship with God in the coming year, I would like to ask you to read through this brief encouragement. Because though we are ultimately dependent on the Holy Spirit for spiritual growth, a few small changes can make a huge difference in whether this coming year is filled with spiritual growth or stagnation.
When I was growing up, there was a large beautiful Bible in our living room. It had a thick leather cover, and it looked beautiful in the nicest room in our apartment.
The only problem is that I never read it. It was a decoration.
When I was 18 years old, I heard and believed the gospel of Jesus Christ and I was made alive spiritually by the Spirit of God. I knew next to nothing about my faith, my Savior, or what he expected of me. A friend in my Christian fellowship patiently encouraged me to read my Bible and helped to learn how to do it! When he told me he read his Bible every day, I laughed at him. But he patiently explained the importance of the Word of God in helping Christians to know, love and worship God. In fact Paul, writing to Timothy says,
“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.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV).
The word translated ‘training’ in 2 Timothy 3:16, means instruction that is intended to form patterns of behavior. It is sometimes translated “discipline” because it is instruction that has a purpose, and boundaries.
Donald Whitney in his classic book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life writes, “No spiritual discipline is more important than the intake of God’s Word. Nothing can substitute for it. We find in Scripture how to live in a way that is pleasing to God as well as best and most fulfilling for ourselves. None of this eternally essential information can be found anywhere else except the Bible. Therefore if we would know God and be godly, we must know the Word of God intimately.”
If we want to grow in the knowledge of God which fuels our worship and our obedience which in turn is the source of our joy, the Word of God must shape us. But many Christians neglect Bible reading and then wonder why they don’t experience more intimacy with God and growth in their obedience.
The truth is regular Bible reading and study, with the Spirit’s help, can transform our lives and fuel spiritual growth.
On our website, we have a 2019 Bible Reading Plan that is adapted from For the Love of God by D.A. Carson. If you follow it, you will read from Genesis through Chronicles, the New Testament and the Psalms. There are other plans that get you through the entire Bible in the next 12 months. Whatever plan you choose, don’t get discouraged, that’s what the devil would want you to do. If you fall behind don’t give up!
It doesn’t matter if you complete the reading plan in 12, or 16, or 20 or 24 months, just get reading and keep reading as often as you can. Begin making Bible reading a regular practice, and let it fuel your worship, and prayer life. Try to find a consistent place and a time that is convenient for you and begin to make Bible reading a regular practice in your life.
If you would like help in learning to read and study the Bible better, talk to a friend who reads their Bible well, and ask for help. If you don’t know who to speak to, speak to one of our community group leaders or one of the elders in the church. We would love to help you.
Let’s make a commitment to grow together in our love, appreciation and knowledge of this Word of God which is sweeter than honey and more precious than gold! Let’s read our Bibles in the coming year, and as we pray and apply what we learn, let’s trust God for much grace!
“Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path!” Psalm 119:105