I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against You,” Psalm 119:11 (NIV)
This is one of the earliest verses from the Bible I can remember memorizing. It was part of the pledge to the Bible we said every morning at the Christian elementary school I attended. I heard it daily at school, and then I heard it again at church on a regular basis.
Knowing the word of God is important so you do not sin against God.
Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful,” Joshua 1:8 (NIV)
This verse I discovered much later than elementary school – perhaps in Seminary.
Here, God Himself is commanding Joshua to read, re-read, and read again the Book of the Law, what becomes our first five books of the Old Testament. There are riches to be found in the first five books. Yes, there are rules, regulations, and sacrifices. But there are countless examples of God’s love for, and desire to be reconciled to, His people. The LORD Himself counsels Joshua, “Know me. Know my thoughts through my Word so that you can do what I tell you to do. Obedience to me is success.” (Rachel’s translated version)
Joshua 1:8 has become perhaps my favorite Bible verse, one I recall time after time after time, especially when I don’t want to have my “quiet time.”
Ah…quiet time. There it is. We are a month and a half or so into the new year, and I guarantee many of us are struggling with our resolution to read through the Bible, deepen our quiet time, spend more time with God – whatever you called it, I imagine you’re starting to struggle with it. And many well-meaning people will say to you that you shouldn’t read the Bible as just another thing on your “to-do” list.
I disagree. Some days, you should read your Bible even if the only reason you’re reading it is to check it off your “to-do” list.
Three Reasons Bible Reading Should Top Your “To Do” List
- Daily reading puts God’s Word into your heart. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Jesus then says in Matthew 15:18a, “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart…”. We, as women, need to be so careful with what we put into our heart. There are days when I would rather read something else than the Bible (a blog post, a news site, a book), but the discipline of checking off my Bible reading for the day puts God’s Word into my heart, consistently and constantly. This leads to my second point.
- God promises that His Word is always fruitful. Isaiah 55: 10-11 promises us that “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” This particular promise in Isaiah is in the middle of a passage full of promises of the Messiah, the Word Incarnate to come. But His Word is His Word. Second Timothy 3:16 tells us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Every Word God has given us, the Word Incarnate, and the written Word, are useful and valid and even on days when you read simply to cross it off of your list, you are hiding God’s Word in your heart, and God can use that to teach, to rebuke, to correct, or to train you in righteousness.
- Finally, it’s a discipline. Whether 2016 is your first time to read through the Bible, or your 60th, you are learning by February 17th that it takes discipline. Hebrews 12:11 encourages us that “no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” And while the context of this verse is specific to discipline in a more punitive sense, the original Greek from which “discipline” comes means “whole education or training.” When you get up, switch on the lamp, and grab your Bible instead of your phone, you are disciplining (training) yourself for righteousness. When you sit down during nap time with your cup of hot tea and your Bible instead of your television, you are disciplining (educating) yourself for righteousness. When you grab your Bible right before bedtime, instead of the latest mystery thriller, because you still haven’t checked it off of today’s “to-do” list, you are disciplining yourself for righteousness and peace.
I’m not suggesting reading your Bible should only be a thing to check off of your “to-do” list. But if there are days when you read only because you want to check it off of the list, do not give up. Keep at it. God will bless your efforts and reward your discipline and faithfulness.
Even when you don’t feel like it.