[an excerpt from my next book, Spiritual Fitness]
“Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions. I am only a foreigner in the land. Don’t hide your commands from me! I am always overwhelmed with a desire for your regulations.”Psalm 119: 18-20 (NLT)
Many people find the Bible boring at first. Or occasionally. However, no one I know who has ever really given it a healthy, hearty attempt has ever stayed with that opinion over time. Some portions of Scripture are dryer than others, and that’s okay. Remember how I said before that spiritual fitness takes time? Yeah, that’s where we’re at here. There’s no easy, lazy, flabby way around or out of this one. Take time or MAKE time to read God’s miraculously preserved, living, breathing Word each and every day. And I can 100% guarantee that you will not think it’s boring for long!
Work with me, here. You’re looking good. Don’t stop now. Ten more reps to go. You’re getting stronger.
It doesn’t really matter where you start. I’m guessing you have at least a bit of the Bible under your belt if you’re reading this, so now I’m going to take that small muscle and really make you toned.
If you typically read 5 minutes or one verse a day, you need to increase that to 15 minutes or about 4 chapters. If you don’t usually read daily, it’s time to get disciplined and start. If you already do a devotional, it’s time to add a couple of chapters to that too. Want a super-intense challenge? I did this once, so I know it’s possible: If you carve out 60 minutes out of your day for your Maker, you can read 10 chapters a day with Professor Horner’s Bible Reading System. You’ll grow to really know the Bible and be able to contextualize what you’re reading among the whole of Scripture.
Whatever you’re consuming of the Bible already, (mentally) write that here: _______________________
Now, for the next week, how can you take your daily consumption up one level? ___________________________________________________________
Begin today. Why? Because this food, this Bread of life, this is your nourishment that will give you the fuel to become strong. This spiritual nourishment is even more crucial than the food you put in your stomach.
Let’s look at what Ezra, the author of Psalm 119 (the longest chapter in the Bible) has to say about the critical role God’s Truth plays to your soul. What adjective is given to the person who walks in God’s Law? ____________ [v. 1-3] (blessed)
What adverb is used in verse 4 to describe how God intended His precepts to be kept? ___________ (diligently)
What do we avoid if our eyes are fixed on God’s Word/commandments? [v. 6] _____________ (shame)
Alright, I need to pause here. Don’t you just hate it when a fitness instructor says, “hold it there,” and then proceeds to explain the technique or form of an exercise while you have to keep going? Yeah, I hate that too.
Psalm 119 is all about this man’s love for God’s Law. I’m going out on a limb here to say the majority of people, not only now, but especially now, don’t love rules. They aren’t in love with reading, memorizing, or doing God’s or anyone else’s regulations. So, was this guy Ezra crazy? Drunk? A few too many days in the desert? I don’t think so.
In complete (though counterintuitive) sanity, I believe he was in love with God’s words, both spoken and written, by the prophets and historians. He needed it, depended on it for direction and instruction, and was enamored but the fact His Maker would speak and write to him. He desired to know and obey what God ordered. Why? Because he had experienced God’s love first-hand, as the One True Supernatural Being used Ezra to rebuild His Temple, and had kept His previously-stated promise to bring the remnant of the exiled Jews back to Jerusalem in order to reestablish worship in that holy place. You can read all of this in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Because Ezra experienced God’s wondrous, loving promise fulfilled, He loved God’s words, even the Law.
I’ve personally experienced two different seasons of similar love for God’s Word. The first was right after a major, stressful transition in which my husband and I moved away from my childhood home of Colorado with our two small children. Everything we knew changed. It was traumatic in a way only a move can be, and though we were all in good health and excited for new opportunities to minister, everyone and everything seemed foreign.
Every comfort zone shattered, every familiar path washed away, I remember clinging to the side of my couch on my knees, pleading with God for comfort. I looked high and low for something, anything recognizable, and found it on the pages of my Bible. And I found that I really truly honestly loved it. Loved the Word became Flesh and desired more than anything the ability to obey it. Perfectly sane and completely desperate, I adored God’s Law. New and Old Testaments alike, the Bible was my tie to Him, my rope to reality, my anchor to the rock in the storm.
“They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.”-1 Peter 1:12 (NLT)
The other time I recall loving God’s Law and commands was right after a painful emotional trial and sifting in which I found myself completely confused, lost, and in a dark emotional pit. My marriage was strained and my husband felt distant, I viewed myself as a failure in every aspect of my aspirations, and I mourned the loss of relationships with loved ones like I never knew I could. In the end, my desperation drew me to the one place of faithful comfort that I’d always known, and that was my Bible. I found God there, and found His love to be the salve my heart needed.
You can’t and shouldn’t try to manufacture a crisis in your life, but if you are in the midst of one right now, then you need God’s Word more than ever. If you’re not in a crisis right now, then it’s likely that one is coming sooner or later, and there’s no better time than the present to cultivate the love of the Bible like never before. Then, when a crisis arises in the future, your spirit will not be in a state of emptiness and famine.
You are not able to wield the power of revelation. You cannot make the verse leap into your heart and mean something new, though you’ve seen it dozens of times before. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. But 100% of the verses you don’t read will not leap off the page in revelation. So, when it comes to God’s Word, open it. Read it. Wait for God to reveal its truth to you. Repeat.
“The Bible was precious to me in those days. … And now, methought, I began to look into the bible with new eyes, and read as I never did before; and especially the epistles of the Apostle Paul were sweet and pleasant to me; and indeed I was then never out of the bible, either by reading or meditation; still crying out to God, that I might know the truth, and way to heaven and glory.”-John Bunyan (biography)
How about you? What does the Bible mean to you and how do you consume it for your sustenance and strength?
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