The Bible is more than fascinating. It is the most printed and bestselling book of all time for a real reason. It has been noted that the Bible was written over a long period of time, with 40 authors from all walks of life. It was written in three different languages in multiple countries, all under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is a collection of 66 books, yet it comes together with a beautiful union all pointing to the God-Man, Jesus Christ. The Bible has changed millions upon millions of lives, prayerfully including yours. As Charles Spurgeon said, “The more you read the Bible, and the more you meditate on it, the more you will be astonished by it!”
Though this is true, pastor, let’s be honest. However fascinating and powerful the Bible is there are some days when our heart is as cold as Yakutsk, Russia. When our hearts are this way, we find ourselves reading the Bible in order to check it off our “I really do love Jesus list.” As Christians, let alone as pastors, this is a daunting and dangerous place to be. Being cold towards the word of God can lead us to disobedience, which can lead us to destruction. D.L Moody once said, “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.”
As we approach the New Year, maybe your heart is in a cold state and the Bible is not fresh to you. As we preach and teach we can easily begin to see the Bible as a book to preach rather than a book that feeds our soul. Have you ever been there? Perhaps you’re there now. Here, then, are three ways to keep the Bible fresh:
1. Remind Yourself of the Bible’s Worth
When Biblical authors under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit speak of the Bible, they use familiar and attractive language to point out its importance and beauty. Meditate on these familiar examples to be reminded of why keeping the Bible fresh is as essential as food, everyday utilities, protection, and personal income!
“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts” – Jeremiah 5:16
“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” – Psalm 119:103
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of the soul and the spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” – Psalm 119:105
“Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” -Jeremiah 23:29
“My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you…. If you seek it like silver and search for it as the hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” – Proverbs 2:1,4 (all verses ESV, emphases mine)
2. Turn from Reading to Praying Scripture
One of the most effective ways to keep the Bible fresh is to go from reading the Bible to prayer. As you read through your Bible plan this year, stop after each chapter and take a few minutes to pray through the chapter. Praying through scripture helps you remember what you read, and it keeps your prayer life from becoming dull. When the Bible seems foreign and reading it seems like a chore, I try to take time to read the text then pray through what I read. (See Dr. Donald Whitney’s work Praying the Bible to learn more.)
For example, say the text hasn’t been fresh for you lately and you come across Psalm 119:103. Pause and pray that the Lord would take from your heart anything that would hinder his word from being sweet like honey to you. After praying and begging God to make this happen, begin to pray for close family members, friends, church members and community leaders. The neat thing about praying through scripture is you will find yourself praying in ways that you normally wouldn’t pray. To which I'm grateful today. As you pray, your heart will warm up as if you are drawing closer and closer to a well-burning fireplace! Get as close as you can by the fire and stay as long as possible.
3. Change Up Your Reading Plan
One day I was having lunch with an older minister who had lost his grip on ministering faithfully. As we talked, he boasted, “I’ve read through the whole Bible once a year for the past 20 something years.” It certainly is beneficial to have a yearly reading plan to familiarize ourselves with the Bible. However, if your reading program doesn’t create humility and Godliness you need to change it.
Search for different ways to read the Bible this year. Maybe you should read through it chronologically. Or, read through while intentionally looking at a particular subject, like spiritual warfare or prayer. Perhaps this year you should take a break from reading through the Bible and memorize a book of the Bible like Philippians or Ephesians. The best decision I made three years ago was to challenge myself with new reading plans.
As we approach the Bible throughout the day, it’s important that we remind ourselves that the goal of reading the Bible is first and foremost to be transformed into the image of Christ. These three simple suggestion can help you experience this transformation and continue to fall in love with the Book that once profoundly captured your heart.