If a stranger were to look at your life, what would he learn about the Bible from it? Would he think that it contained some holiday stories you read a few times a year? Would he think it some weekly almanac? Would he think it was a book of motivational quotes that you glance at before beginning the day? Or would he think that you depend on it as much as food or drink?
Sadly, many Christians spend more time reading the news than they do the Good News. Many talk more about physical food than the food of the Word. Many are more passionate talking about political platforms than God’s plan of redemption.
Yes, we often neglect the Bible. But here’s the question:
Why don’t you read your Bible more?
I ask not to convict, but to diagnose why. Is it possible that our poor habits develop out of wrong thinking about God’s Word? Can we sometimes (although we would never admit it) think it dry, irrelevant to our needs, or full of things that will just make us feel guilty?
Psalm 119 corrects this thinking. Among other things, God’s Word provides vitality, counsel, and joy. In fact, it alone can give some of those things! The verses below remind us why we should not only read our Bibles but also why we should greatly desire it.
Life has a way of sucking the life out of us, does it not? We wake up feeling exhausted. We get halfway through the day and we’re ready for a nap. As the evening approaches, we think of all the things we wanted to get done and didn’t, so we cross out today’s date on our to-do list and write tomorrow’s. Yes, life can be a grind.
And what about when things really hit us hard? We lose our job. We get a call from the doctor and hear the diagnosis that we dreaded. A loved one dies. These are the times when, “Just keep your head up” or “Everything happens for a reason” become fighting words.
What do we do when our world is falling apart? What do we do when we feel drained and it isn’t even 9:00 am?
I am exceedingly afflicted; Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word.Psalm 119:107
Sustain me according to Your word, that I may live; And do not let me be ashamed of my hope.Psalm 119:116
In the hard times, the Psalmist looked to the Word of God. “O LORD, my vitality is draining away! Give me life again!” Life can often take our eyes off the Giver of life. Busy-ness, tragedy, and grief can consume our reality. These things may cut to our core and leave us feeling like a shell of a human, but they do not have to have the last word.
God’s Word reminds us who He is, what He has done, what He continues to do, and what He has promised. Jesus Christ bore our greatest grief and took our greatest affliction (Isaiah 53:4). Therefore, we can draw near to God in times of need (Hebrews 4:14-16). And we look to our hope that abides beyond this world so that we can have hope in this world (1 Peter 1:3-5).
Oh Christian! When life has drained your strength, look to His Word!
News, fake news, online forums, Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/whateverelseisoutthere posts… Is there no end to words?
The overabundance of information in our age is a little silly. We have to sift through worthless information to get to the good stuff, just like we sift through all the vegetables in our fridge to find the ice cream (in this story the ice cream is the good stuff and the vegetables are the junk). Beyond this, how do we know what is true? Even those with the best intentions have limited knowledge.
Where can we go to find pure, unadulterated truth? Where can we find reliable answers to life’s truly important questions?
Your testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors.Psalm 119:24
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.Psalm 119:105
When the Psalmist is looking for truth, he turns off the news, closes all his browser windows, and opens the Word of God (loose translation). Elsewhere he says that God’s word gives him discernment, knowledge, wisdom, insight, and understanding. Will God’s word provide every answer for life? No. But, as verse 105 shows, it tells us where we are and where we should go.
The Psalmist rejoices because of these truths! All paths do not lead to life, joy, peace, purity, and a God-glorifying life (Proverbs 14:12). How refreshing it is that the Bible illuminates the path to these things!
God’s word shows how to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:14-21). It tells us of Jesus Christ, the Word who become flesh to save His people (John 1:1-18, 3:16-21). And it also tells us how we may live in a manner pleasing to God (Colossians 3:1-17).
Oh Christian! The world tells you many things, but God’s Word gives sure counsel for our lives!
Humanity is in an ever-increasing pursuit of happiness. Everything is geared toward that end. Call it satisfaction, contentment, fulfillment, or whatever, this pursuit of inner gladness undergirds and overlays just about everything we do.
We Christians understand that our joy is in Christ. There may be times when we struggle with this and need to be reminded of it, but I’ll leave that to another time. Right now, I’ll assume that you believe this. But what I ask is this: Do you really believe it?
I mean, do you really believe it?
Do your habits, patterns, and the attitude you have when you approach the Word of God really reflect your belief that God is the Giver of joy? Or have “devotions” become an arduous task?
How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!Psalm 119:103
I rejoice at Your word, as one who finds great spoil.Psalm 119:162
The Psalmist certainly saw this joy in God’s Word. “Get this gold and delicious food out of my way!” He says, “They are like lead in my hands and dust in my mouth. I crave the Word of the Almighty God!” (again, loose translation). Oh! How convicting this is! How it shows the hypocrisy of our lips! While our habits in Bible reading often confirm our belief that we should read the Bible, our attitude often betrays our lack of belief in the delight of reading the Bible.
Oh Christian! Let us plumb the depths of God’s revelation to us. How beautiful He is and how delightful are His words! May we make it our life’s goal to know God and His Word better than we know anyone and anything!
Encouragement and Exhortation
If the truths above are not motivation enough, may I urge you with these final words:
Dear friend who does not know Christ, the Word of God was written so that you may know Him! The Gospel of John specifically was written so that you may know that Jesus is the Son of God, and that by believing you may life in His name (John 20:31). Do nothing else until you know this glorious Savior! Lay aside your breakfast. Be late to work or to school. Does your work offer you life rather than death? Does school offer you hope to pass from darkness to light? That is what this book offers. Look there now that you may find life!
Dear brother or sister in Christ, I urge you in two ways. First, if you do not regularly read the Scripture, I do not berate you. I plead with you for your own sake, do not neglect this glorious gift! Start in Psalm 119 and see its treasures. You believe the Bible is the Word of God? Good! Now partake of its life, counsel, and joy!
Second, delight in God’s Word. Do not be content with ritualistic reading. Do not stop until you see the glorious person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Be not content, but seek more and more revelations of God’s infinite beauty!
Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.Psalm 119:18
Mike Engelsgjerd recently separated from the U.S. Army after 15 years of service. Towards the end of his service, Mike began to feel God’s call to full time Christian ministry. In following this call, He is pursuing an M.Div. at TMS with the goal of becoming a Chaplain in the U.S. Military and a Pastor.