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Tuesday, 4 December 2012

How to enjoy reading your Bible

Why do I find a novel more 'attractive' than Scripture?
Many Christians who want to read their Bible find it a struggle. A real struggle.

But why?

Why should a novel or newspaper one day seem more attractive than the Bible?

Because reading the Bible is spiritual warfare at the sharp end of  battle. Scripture is not the shield or helmet, but the "sword of the Spirit", and when we read and meditate on it we are engaging in offensive warfare against the evil one.

And so the enemy tries to make that novel, newspaper - or even that new Christian book - more attractive than the Bible.

Tips to enjoying Scripture
Recognise the battle. Remember that you are about to engage in battle before you read - and prepare for it. That way, you'll understand the distractions thrown across your path, or the sudden tiredness that may descend.

Remember what the Bible is. Scripture is food for the soul! Scripture is one half of the relationship between you and God (the other half is prayer). Scripture is light for your path and Truth for understanding the most important things in life. So as we read Scripture we will grow up in faith, get to know God better, have light cast upon our daily path  - and we will understand everything important in the world far better.

      What incentives to read!

Remember that there are no 'reading rules'..... The very worst way to read the Bible is to set up for yourself a list of rules or expectations that you may never be able to keep: "I will read it for two hours a day". The problem with making rules is that when you break them guilt comes in, and nothing will kill your enjoyment of Scripture more than a guilty conscience. The Bible gives no rules; how could it when we are encouraged to delight in the exercise? (Psalm 1).

...but have a plan. "No rules" doesn't mean no discipline or plan. If you aim for nothing, be sure you'll hit it. What will you read and why? Perhaps you will use some Bible Study notes, perhaps you will use one of those 'read through the Bible in a year' plans, perhaps you will decide to read a book you've not tackled before.

Find a place and time to read. Decide when you will read and where.Will it be every morning or evening (some are larks, some are owls - what are you?) Will you read it every day or three times a week? Will you read it for 10 minutes or 30? It is all up to you (how much blessing do you want?).

Read to benefit from, not to race through. The big problem with the yearly plans is that you can find yourself racing through the Bible rather than benefiting from it. The word the Bible uses in Joshua 1 and Psalm 1 is "meditate", chew over, reflect on.  It is far better to read one verse and benefit from it, than to read 100 verses but digest none of them.

Read with Jesus to find. Jesus Christ showed two followers on the road to Emmaus that he was everywhere in the Bible. So look for the mercy and grace of God through Jesus Christ and his Gospel on every page you read.

Read to obey. Before you read ask God to show you wonderful things. The Spirit who first inspired the word can alone unlock it.  After you've read, pray over what you've read. How does God want you to respond?  Has he taught you something new about himself? Some old sin to repent of, some new virtue to put on? Someone to forgive, someone to encourage? Well then, pray through and then act!

The believer who meditates on God's word will become strong and fruitful....

    "like a tree planted by streams of water 
        which yields its fruit in season 
             and whose leaf does not whither. 
       Everything he does prospers...." 

                 (Psalm 1)

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