It’s the beginning of a new school year. Although I am not in school anymore and I don’t yet have kids in school, I still crave the new and steady rhythms that fall brings.
I love the fresh and free of summer, but by the end of it I’m feeling the need for stability and normality again.
But there’s one way I steady my heart and mind no matter the season of life: consistently reading God’s Word.
No matter the season of life, crazy or calm, scheduled or sporadic, fast or slow, I’ve learned that I can be centered and grounded and steadied in Jesus. The best way for me to do that is through spending time in His Word.
Whether you love to read or hate it…
Whether you crave routine or defy it...
Whether you have a family or are by yourself...
Whether you work or stay home...
Whether you are far too busy or far too bored...
Whether you know the Bible very well or feel overwhelmed just thinking about it...
Regularly reading God’s Word is essential.
I’ve found that the craziest seasons of my life are the times that I most need to be studying the Bible. And no matter how smoothly my life is going, I notice that I am less joyful and peaceful when I fail to spend time in God’s Word even for one day. This is because the Bible is meant to point us to Jesus and draw us into relationship with Him.
The Bible is the number one way that God speaks to us, because it is His actual word, written down for us to read.
"All Scripture is breathed out by God and 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.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17
The Bible is a help and resource in resisting temptation. Even Jesus quoted scripture when Satan tempted Him in the desert.
"But he (Jesus) answered, 'It is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’”
The Bible teaches the truth about God, ourselves, and this world which gives us true hope and joy in this life.
"For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
The Bible is the living word of God and He will use it to speak to us, to convict us, to encourage us, and to grow us.
"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
The Bible points us to Jesus, and seeing Jesus more clearly will always lead us to worship.
"Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules. Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.”
But even when I know how essential God's Word is to my joy, peace, and walk with Him, I still struggle at times to actually do it. It's so easy to get this screwed up notion in your head of what reading the Bible is supposed to look like.
We think it has to be 2 chapters every day and we have to get up at 5:30 in the morning in order to do it. Or we think we have to sit in perfect peace and stillness with a journal and pen ready to record great insights that we find. Or we think we need to be reading in three different parts of the Bible at once in order for it to "really count".
However, all these ideals and restrictions that we place on our Bible reading simply keeps us from the most important part… actually doing it.
Here are seven practical ways I've found to keep my heart centered in God's Word every day:
Listen to Sermons
This is particularly helpful if you have trouble understanding God's Word when you read it on your own or if you have extra time while exercising, driving, or even cleaning the house. You can listen to the Redemption Church sermon recordings each week through our podcast. This helps you stay connected and encouraged if you miss a Sunday or are serving in Kids Ministry or simply want to re-listen to the message in order to dig in a little deeper.
Beyond just our church, there are so many other great Bible teachers out there who have their weekly sermons online for free. On our the Redemption Church resources page you can find links to the podcasts of some wonderful godly teachers who love Jesus and his Word.
Listen to the Bible Read Aloud
You can download some wonderful Bible apps to your smart phone, like the YouVersion app, that will read the Bible aloud to you. Sometimes I even read along while it is being read to me to help it sink in a little more.
Memorize Bible Verses
What better way to focus your heart on God than to recite His Word that you have memorized? In those stressful or busy moments where you might not be able to sit down and open your Bible, you can call it to mind instantly and be encouraged and built up in Jesus.
Watch Bible Teaching Videos
This summer Pastor Daniel made 2-minute videos that share a snippet of truth for us from our study through the gospel of John as a church. Many times I've found myself coming back to that bit of truth from the Bible over and over throughout the day.
Read the Bible with Others
If you are struggling to stay consistent or perhaps struggling to know what to read, joining a group is a great help. It can keep you accountable to actually read every day and give you a starting point for talking about God's Word with your friends. This summer we read through the Gospel of John together as Pastor Daniel teaching on conversations Jesus had, as recorded in that book for us.
Journal as You Read the Bible
Keeping a journal is a great way to help you learn from God's Word as you read. There are so many ways to do this, ranging from simply copying scripture to writing outlines to journaling prayers that correspond to what you read. However you journal, it is a great way to dig deeper into God's Word.
Simply Open the Bible
Keep your Bible (or your Bible app) nearby and just open it when you have a spare minute or two or twenty. There is no substitute for opening God's Word, reading it, and asking Him to speak. Start in Genesis and read straight through, or pick a gospel and dive in there.
Even in seasons where I've struggled to understand God's Word or to hear from Him, I have never regretted the time I've spent reading the Bible.
I pray that these tips and encouragements to get into the Bible are helpful to you and that together we can seek Jesus through His Word. I know we will be blessed because of it.