Receive the Word (2)
Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 1 Timothy 4.13
God’s Word for all
From the beginning, God intended His Word to be heard and understood by all His people. Especially after their deliverance from Egypt, the people of Israel were commanded to let the Word of God dwell richly within them, as individuals and as a people. Parents were commanded to teach their children. Judges were to use the Word to encourage justice and neighbor-love in all their communities. The nation of Israel was to gather every seven years for a mass public reading of the Law of God. In the New Testament, the Berean Christians were commended because they searched the Scriptures daily (Acts 17.11), thus reflecting what had become the practice among faithful Jews in every age.
Paul exhorted the young Timothy to make public reading of God’s Word a high priority, and not just on Sunday. Following Paul’s own example (cf. Acts 20), the Word would be read every day, in large gatherings and small, in public places and private homes. It would be discussed and talked about by Christians as often as they came together to encourage one another in love and good works (Heb. 10.24).
And if there had been printed copies of the Word available for every person in Paul’s day, I’m sure he would have exhorted Timothy to make sure every believer had his own Bible, knew how to read it, and read it faithfully, day after day.
The living Word of God will not begin to dwell in us richly until we make daily reading of Scripture an indispensable discipline for our everyday lives.
But we need to do this in a careful and informed manner. I want to suggest ten brief guidelines for developing and maintaining a daily regimen of reading God’s Word. Follow these, and they will help in having that Word become implanted in your mind, heart, and conscience.
First, read regularly. Read something every day. Set up a reading schedule and reserve the time in your daily calendar to make sure reading God’s Word becomes a central part of your everyday life.
Next, read it all. Don’t hunt and peck your way through Scripture. Set up a plan to read the Bible through, cover to cover, then follow that plan for the rest of your life. You don’t have to read it all in one sitting or even one year, but you should have a plan that you follow which takes you repeatedly through the Bible as part of your daily reading regimen. Remember, all Scripture is inspired and profitable (2 Tim. 3.15-17).
As you are reading, read for the glory of God. That is read slowly, reflectively, prayerfully, eagerly waiting for and asking God to show you His glory, in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ, from within the pages of His Word (2 Cor. 3.12-18; 2 Cor. 4.6). Seek to encounter the living God in His living Word, every time you read it.
Also, read for the larger story. Don’t get bogged down in or distracted by Biblical minutiae. Keep in mind the overarching Biblical narrative of creation, fall, restoration, and consummation, and the central Biblical theme of Christ’s redemptive work for God’s people and His glory.
Read for the present. That is, try to listen for what God is speaking in His Word about your own life and the times in which we live. Think about the day ahead. Let the Word speak into your daily life, and commit yourself in prayer to actions suggested by your reading.
Be sure to read with the right spirit, hungering for God’s Word and glory, and not begrudging Him a few minutes of your valuable time. Learn to delight in your time reading God’s Word.
Read Scripture into every aspect of your soul – how you think, what you feel, what you value. Let the Word of Christ dwell richly in every sector of your soul, as you wait on the Spirit to search you (Ps. 139-23, 24).
When you can, read the Scriptures with other believers. Join a Bible study group, or get together with some friends to read and discuss the Word. Part of the reason we want the Word to dwell richly in us is so that we may teach and encourage one another in it (Col. 3.16).
Read the Word to learn something every day. Wrestle with the Lord, like Jacob, until He blesses you with some specific insight or instruction that you can use that day.
Finally, read to run (Hab. 2.2) – to bring the living Word to life through your own words and deeds as you run the race set before you each day (Heb. 12.1, 2). Identify specific actions from your reading which you can implement as part of your daily walk with and work for the Lord.
The starting point
Reading the Word of God daily is the starting point for having the Word dwell within you richly. If you won’t do this, you won’t be able to gain the benefit God intends for you from His powerful, indwelling Word.
Make sure daily reading of the Word, and right reading of that Word, is an indispensable part of every day of your life.
1. Using a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the highest rating, evaluate your own reading of Scripture according to each of the ten guidelines given in this lesson. Why did you choose that number?
2. Where do you most need to begin improving your reading of Scripture? What can you begin to do right away?
3. Why is it so important that reading the Word of God should be a daily discipline?
Next step – Conversation, Transformation: Review each of the points made in this article about “right reading.” Share them and your personal assessment with a Christian friend. Commit to praying for one another, that you might know the power of God’s indwelling Word more fully and consistently.
T. M. Moore
To learn more about understanding and using the Bible, enroll in the course, Introduction to Biblical Theology. It’s free and online, and you can study at your own pace or with friends. To learn more and to register, click here. This week’s study is Part 3 of a series on The Word of God, and is available as a free download by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.