We know as people following Jesus that we should be immersed in the Bible. But for many of us, this seems to be an impossible challenge. The biblical literacy of the Western Church is in a staggering place. We have prioritized many things (family, entertainment, work, rest, friendships, church, education) above daily exposure to Scripture. In order to corporately address this issue, we are inviting the family at Crosspoint to participate in a year-long endeavor to read through the entire Bible. We want people to learn about God and grow in godliness. There is no better way to do this than to pick up the Bible and read it.
As I have been reflecting on 2018 and anticipating the new year, I wanted to offer some encouragement to those who are thinking about joining us. You can check out the plan we are going through as a church here.
As you engage with Scripture this year, read it…
We must get alone to be with God in His Word. One of my favorite passages bringing out the truth of this in the life of every believer is Psalm 1.
”Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does he prospers.” (Psalm 1:1-3 ESV)
Read and re-read the above passage. Contrasted directly with the one who delights in the way of the sinner is the one who meditates constantly on the Scriptures. The promise is clear: the one who meditates consistently prospers constantly. The one who exposes themselves to the Scriptures day and night maintains a posture of thriving before God. Like a tree planted by never-ending, always flowing streams—the one who runs back to the Word consistently will produce evidence of such life (fruit) in season and will not wither and die off. Our consistency as believers with regard to our faithfulness to the gospel is intimately connected with how consistently we soak in the truth of God’s Word.
This promise of not withering should not be taken to mean that life will never get difficult or that Bible reading will always “come naturally”. There is absolutely nothing natural about Bible reading. Some days you won’t “feel” like being there. Some days will seem pretty mundane. It’s in these moments where the people in my life are able to push me with reminders of the promises in Psalm 1. When I am tempted to find life elsewhere, friends point me back to the Christ who is proclaimed in the Word. Our friends are there to hold us accountable. They remind us to draw again and again from the deep wells of Scripture for our satisfaction. Not only that, but they also help us learn.
It is such a joy to have the opportunity to read the Bible with someone and they point out something in a passage that I completely missed. Learning together is an encouragement to our faith. It pushes us forward. It shows us we don’t know everything. Your friendships are more valuable than you will ever realize. They are in your life to help you make progress in the Kingdom of God.
The whole idea of meditation is pretty misunderstood today. Typically, when we hear of meditation being talked about we think of an empty mind trying to achieve some sort of “inner peace” through ridding itself of all thought. Meditation in a biblical sense is far more active. It is the filling of your mind with Scriptural truth so that you can turn it around over and over. Like gazing at a beautiful diamond turning it around to see all of its intricacies, we too must slowly and carefully examine the intricacies of the Word that point us to faith in Christ. Slow down. Enjoy it. You are staring at an ancient document that is thousands of years old, you won’t and shouldn’t read it as quickly as a post on social media.
One of the best things you can do as you read the Bible is asking it good questions. Here’s a helpful tool to use as you do. As we examine the Scriptures, we must be people who think rigorously about the task at hand. We are trying to grow in our understanding of an infinite God who has created and established everything. This means it’s going to be strenuous. He holds us together in his hand and will help us. This is not “light” reading and understanding. It is difficult work. This is why so many stop a yearlong plan through the Bible in the book of Leviticus (Book 3 of 66). If we are to love God with our heart, soul, and mind, we must fill our mind with thoughts of Jesus and His kingdom. Don’t just read passages and move on. Pause, examine the details. Don’t lose sight of the trees because you are trying to get a glimpse of the forest. And do not lose sight of the forest because you are focusing on the trees. We must keep both the bigger story and the little story in mind simultaneously.
Reading the Scriptures is a skill that cannot be cultivated overnight or mastered in a lifetime. When we open up our Bibles, we must enter into the time knowing we will not be able to understand everything. The Bible is not a book that we are called to master. It is a means that God leverages in our lives so that we would be people mastered by Him. Read the Word patiently. The ability to interpret the Bible on its own terms takes time to cultivate. The Holy Spirit doesn’t give you magical interpretive abilities that enable the text to mean whatever you feel it should mean in a moment. Each book of the Bible has a human author behind it writing to a specific audience for a specific reason. The Bible was written to an ancient audience but is for you today. Bridging the contextual gap between the ancient audience of the Bible and us today is one of the greatest challenges to Bible reading. It is this challenge that takes humility and patience from us as we read. No, you don’t have it all figured out. The more you practice the better you will get. In all of the practice, you are totally dependent on and have access to the Spirit who brought the Scriptures into existence. God longs to open your eyes to see the Word accurately.
Reading the Bible in a year is no easy task. But if we make the time to get alone with the Word we will taste its goodness. If we lean on our friends to hold us accountable and teach us what they are seeing we will experience its value. If we slow down and take the story of the Bible in we will be blown away by its uniqueness. If we examine the text thoughtfully we will catch glimpses of God’s magnitude and be drawn to worship. If we read patiently we will grow. As we grow we will begin to grasp the depth of God’s love for His people and be compelled to love others well. It’s a marathon. Run steady and run hard. Most of all, run with your eyes on the goal…Christ and your unity with Him.
Reading the Bible in a year will be hard and it will be worth it. Will you join us?