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Thursday, 31 December 2015

Persevering in Reading the Bible

A New Year, a new Bible reading scheme, right?

God's Word is precious to our family, and I have been reading my Bible devotionally since my teens (twenty odd years now!).

My experience has been - start a Bible reading scheme, read for a while, miss a day, or 2, or a week, or sometimes, sadly, a month.

Then - repent, pick myself up, and get on with reading my Bible again.

Rejoice again in God's Word and his goodness.

So, from this perspective- of my weakness, God's grace, and a conviction that God's Word is medicine for the soul and help for those who struggle:



1) Aim to read all the Bible.

Not necessarily in one year; though I have found this helpful, I don't do so every year. However, I've just finished the M'Cheyne reading scheme, using For the Love of God by Don Carson as a guide alongside it. It is wonderful to enjoy the riches of all of God's Word, and I love seeing echoes of one part of the Bible in another that I haven't spotted before, or seeing fresh pointers to Jesus in the Old Testament. The more I have read and re-read, the more I have seen. Only this morning, I noticed echoes of Malachi in the book of James that I have never noticed - exciting and encouraging.

2) Mix it up a bit.

By this I mean that I find it helpful to sometimes read big chunks of scripture (as I have done for the past year), and sometimes to slow down and read one book of the Bible slowly. I have particularly enjoyed Whiter Than Snow by Paul Tripp, which has 52 meditations on Psalm 51. Tomorrow I will begin a book of devotions on the Psalms that my husband bought me for Christmas after I mentioned that I wanted to spend some time in the Psalms this year.

3) Ask for help!

When I am struggling to be disciplined with reading the Bible, I have dear friends who pray for me, and a husband who will both pray for me and practically help me by handing me a cup of tea and my Bible in the morning when he knows that I'm struggling. I can talk to others who I know will ask me how I'm getting on, in order to spur me on to keep going.

4) Seek out good resources.

Ask godly Christians what they use; ask your Pastor (trust me, he will be thrilled!). There's lots of great stuff out there- though some less helpful things too, and it is good to be discerning.

5) Don't despair when you fail.

My experience is that when I get behind on my readings, I tend to try not to think about it for a while as I feel bad. I like the tidiness of reading the right readings on the right dates. I feel guilty and fed up. Then, I realise that I need the Lord! I turn to him in repentance, and begin again. Sometimes I catch up with my readings, other times I pick up where I left off. On some occasions, I have just ditched whatever I am using and begun afresh with something new - whatever it takes to get me started again. If I'm really struggling, I usually start be praying and reading a familiar Psalm or book of the Bible.

6) Talk about what you read.

Not to show off, but to encourage others. I will often mention to my children something that I have read or learned. My hope is that this will be of help to them, and also model how to keep on learning from God's Word throughout my life. In the same way, talking about what we have learned with other believers can be a help to them as well as to you.

Reading the Bible is something that we aspire to do regularly, and that we know we need to do so that we can know the Lord better and love him more. Our struggles can be hidden - by habit, or by shame. We need to help one another, pray for one another, and spur each other on to keep going in God's Word this coming year.

2 comments:

  1. This is a bit sad but I concentrate much better if I have walked downstairs and made a cup of tea first. I have found Ryle on the Gospels so helpful, this year. Your psalm devotional sounds interesting.

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  2. Tea is a huge help! However, if I go downstairs, I get distracted by all there is to do in the day ahead and find it hard to focus. The Psalms devotional is "My Rock My Refuge" by Tim Keller; all the Psalms over a year and looks good so far.

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