Many of us committed to read the Bible daily in the New Year, some with hopes of reading the Bible cover to cover in one year. It’s now May, so does your Bible know where you are?
Too many of us have not followed through on our commitments. What is at stake in this form of neglect?
If you trust the research from the Center for Bible Engagement, a lot. In fact, according to the Center, time spent in the Word of God is the single best indicator of bad and good behavior among Christians.
Church attendance certainly is important, but it is not the best predictor of your behavior. Time spent in prayer, very important, but it was not the best predictor either.
What the Center found, through extensive research, was that “Christians who read or listen to the Bible at least four days a week” were more likely to engage in good behaviors like evangelism and church attendance and were less likely to participate in negative behaviors, like gambling and consumption of pornography.
What’s even more interesting about “the power of 4” is that there was “no statistical difference between Christians who read or listen to the Bible two to three days a week and those who do not engage (with) Scripture at all or only once a week.” In other words, until you take in God’s Word four times per week, you won’t start to see results.
This really should come as no surprise. After all, the Bible says of itself, “For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12).
Unfortunately, we live in an age that distracts us from concentrated time in God’s Word. With every text message, Facebook post and TV commercial, the world is saying “Look at this!” While tools of technology and communications are good and fine, the fact remains that they often lure us away from focused time on Scripture.
As the church, we expend a lot of time and resources trying to modify behavior. We host prayer rallies, discipleship trainings and other worthy things, all in hopes of bringing people farther along in their walk with the Lord. We also work hard to make social change by public-awareness efforts, political engagement and more—again these are good things.
Yet, what if the secret to lasting change and growth was right under our noses all along, with the Word of God? If time in the Bible is so powerful, here are a few ways to act on it.
1. Personally spend purposeful, daily time in God’s Word.
2. Inspire your kids or grandkids to spend time in the Word, emphasizing that it is for their own good, in addition to pleasing God.
3. Encourage efforts that take the Word of God to more people in America. Southern Baptists are a vital part of this ministry.
4. Pray for efforts and educational programs that showcase how we got the Bible in the first place, ones like the Museum of the Bible that is coming to Washington, D.C. in 2017.
If Southern Baptists truly are “a people of the Book,” as we claim, then it only makes sense that we would lead a back-to-the-Bible movement, believing that there’s power in the Good Book!