PERSPECTIVE: Read the Bible
Year after year, the best selling book in the world is the Bible. Nothing has threatened its place as the most cherished book. We Americans have no idea how much people in many parts of the world long to have even so much as a page of the Bible to read. The Bible is the book most treasured by believers in the land of Lottie. They cannot conceive that many of us have shelves of Bibles in many different translations.
While the Bible is the best-selling book in the world, I would suggest it is perhaps the least read book. I am constantly amazed that so many followers of Christ choose to go months and months without opening the Bible to read and study it. After all, the Bible is our guidebook for living the abundant life.
As a pastor, I would always begin the new year by challenging my church family to read the Bible through during the year. There are many easy ways to accomplish that today. Good reading guides are readily available. One of my favorite ways to read through the Bible is by purchasing a one-year Bible. They are arranged with daily readings from the Old Testament, the New Testament and brief passages in Psalms and Proverbs. Using this convenient approach, it takes only about 15 minutes a day to take your daily spiritual vitamin. Over the years, I have read through several translations that have given me even richer insights into the truths of God.
Paul speaks of the powerful ability of the Word of God to impact our lives: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16‑17 ESV).
I know of few disciplines in the Christian life that provide more benefit. I have found the Word meeting needs day in and day out. Sometimes it is the balm that brings calmness to my heart. At other times, when I find myself without direction and needing the wisdom that comes only from God, I open the book and am amazed how the Scripture of the day provides the direction I need. Sometimes my faith is tested, and I am about to crumble. I open my Bible early in the morning and find words that encourage and strengthen me.
The Psalmist declared, “I have stored up Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11 ESV). For many of us, Scripture memorization ended in childhood. It shouldn’t have. Hiding the Scripture in our hearts places a foundation in our lives that nothing else can. Memorizing the Word allows it to set in our minds, and we are able to contemplate its truths moment by moment. It is interesting that prisoners of war have often given eloquent testimony of the power of Scripture committed to memory to keep them alive and mentally strong during confinement.
My challenge to us all is to spend 2010 in the Word. Let it flow over our lives like a river flows over the rocks in the stream bed. Cherish the truths you read and commit them to memory. The rich truths will work on your mind and heart throughout the day. If you will read and memorize the Scripture as a daily discipline, this year will be a blessed year for you. You may face extreme hardship or experience great victory. In every case, a heart and head full of the Word will make the hardships tolerable and the victories sweeter.
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.