I have been sick with a stomach virus for three days, and barely had the energy to do anything. Of course, sadly, my Bible reading fell to the wayside. In fact, I realized, I hadn’t actually read my Bible in about a week, so really I couldn’t even blame illness.
Interestingly enough, today I feel well enough to resume normal life duties, and one of the first habits I reached for was my Bible. I began to read, and immediately felt so encouraged and refreshed, until my first distraction. Then I remembered the laundry in my bedroom waiting to be folded, the germs lingering from my bug waiting to be cleaned, the tidying of the toys and clutter I couldn’t keep up with, the laundry needing to be washed, the dinner I had planned to make, you name it, it crossed my mind and suddenly I found myself feeling completely overwhelmed again.
Isn’t it ironic how I picked up my Bible and immediately felt peace, until I remembered my growing to do list.. I’ve read articles that the enemy of our soul resides in our busy schedules, keeping us too busy to even spend time with God. Sure enough, I myself had let distraction then illness keep me from indulging in the Word of God. And oh, how I missed this time! I picked back in Luke where I was trying to read a chapter a day for the 24 days leading from December 1st to Christmas. I was refreshed and encouraged by the things I read. I found myself intentionally choosing to ignore my to do list to spend time with God (which is incredibly hard for me, but I wanted to do after having a taste of His peace.) When I got up, and went about some of my business, I felt so much chipper and lighter than I had felt in days.
I didn’t just feel good because after a few sick days, I was well. I felt good in my soul. I felt peace, and I felt joyous. I even found myself singing worship songs to my daughter as I changed her diaper, or ate lunch with her. This is what studying Jesus’ life does for my soul. This is why daily Bible reading is crucial for any Christian. Think of the Bible as vitamins for our soul, we want to stay well so we take our vitamins. We forget our vitamins for a few days and we feel unwell. My week away from the Word of God left me feeling overwhelmed and unwell.
I’d love to encourage you to read your Bible, daily! I have been trying to read through the history books of the Old Testament, one chapter of Psalms, a few proverbs and one chapter of Luke a day. I didn’t start out with that much! I focused on one book initially, but slowly have added to it realizing I was missing reading about Jesus, and especially with the Christmas season, so of those my priority right now is Luke. If you aren’t familiar with your Bible, I encourage you to find an easier to read edition, NLT, NIV, ESV (New Living Translation, NLT is the one I use.) I encourage you to read a study Bible – this way you can have access to answers immediately as you read things and wonder what on earth the context meant! Remember, culturally, we are in an entirely different time than when the Bible was written. This doesn’t change the TRUTH of the Bible, but it does make it seem strange for us to understand certain parts without understanding the cultural norms of the time, and this is where a study Bible is SOOO helpful!
Some people, like my husband who is on round 2 of reading the Bible chronologically, thrive with a daily plan, and others just kind of go where the Spirit leads them. I consider myself the latter. I will hear someone discussing a book from the Bible, and just go there, I just kind of go where I feel I should. I think this works better for me because if I miss a day or two, I can pick up where I left off, rather than feel like I need to speed read to catch up and get back on plan. Sometimes I read less and sometimes I read more. Sometimes one sentence changes my entire mindset and that’s sufficient, and other times I read pieces here and there, but the point is: I read it. I leave it right on my dining room table so that I can come and go through out the day, a chapter here and a chapter there. That may not work for many, but for me with 4 young children and a lot of demands, it does.
If you have never read the bible, I encourage you to start in the New Testament. Look at the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke & John. Each tell the story of Jesus’ time on earth as researched and witnessed by the men who’s name the book is after. Matthew’s goal was to show the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah, Mark’s goal was to help the early Christian church, Luke was a Doctor who recognized the importance of interviewing and researching so that he could present the most facts possible and John wrote with the intention of proving Jesus was the true Son of God and that all who believe in Him will have eternal life, and as a result, John is really the most popular among new Christians. The rest of the books in the New Testament are considered ‘letters.’ Many were written by Paul to the Early Christian church, and many where written to encourage early Christians. Paul was a Jewish man who did not believe Jesus was the Messiah, and in fact, participated in the first stoning of a man who identified as a Christian. Later, he has an amazing experience with Jesus, realizes how wrong he is and writes a lot of the New Testament. Personally, I love Paul because he reminds me no matter how much someone is against Jesus and Christianity, they can still come around and do major things for the Kingdom.
I believe that the Bible is the word of God and in reading it daily, our faith is encouraged, educated and strengthened. I think we gain peace, and lose selfishness by spending time with God daily, especially in His word, and perhaps best of all? We hear from God.So many times I have heard God speak to me through the words written in the Bible. The more that I read my Bible, the more that happens – and what an amazing blessing that is!
Jesus says in Luke 8:18 “So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand may be taken away from them.” Jesus said that after explaining the parable of the soils to his disciples. I especially love how he says, “To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given.” This is exactly what happens to me as I study the Bible more. I am sometimes surprised at how things speak to me, or how I am able to recall verses (not completely by heart but I remember the point), or find peace about a situation bothering me. But how cool is that – the Messiah, Himself, promises to reveal more things we could never have imagined knowing and understanding if we listen to His teaching. Wow! Don’t you want to know and understand more? The blessings I find from reading my Bible are endless.
I truly believe this message is directly from God because I sat down intending to write something about Luke, not really knowing what, just knowing that I had missed writing, and this came out so easily. God loves you so much, and He loves spending time in conversation with you through prayer, and while you are reading His word. Relating back to the parable of the soils, Jesus says in Luke 8:8 “Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted.” Go read Luke Chapter 8, and see what Jesus means by this. He later says that the seeds that fell on the fertile soil represent “honest , good-hearted people who hear God’s Word, cling to it and patiently produce a good harvest.” (Verse 15) I challenge you today, read and hear God’s word, and cling to it!