‘Take up and read’

Published 10:33 pm Friday, September 9, 2016

By Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

If you are a regular reader of my column, chances are you have some interest in Christianity or the Bible.

Many of you read your Bibles regularly, and you are wise to do so. The Bible is God’s Word to us, God’s promise book to us, and God’s love letter to us. Above all, it tells us about the Savior, who died and rose again, that we might have life abundant and life eternal.

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My desire is that you get the most out of your Bible reading, and there are some simple helps that every believer should know and apply.

The first one is the most important. To borrow a phrase from a famous athletic shoe commercial, “Just do it.” American bookshelves are loaded with Bibles, and most Christians would say that they believe the Bible to be truthful, inspired and inerrant.

But for far too many Christians, their Bibles are “inspired, inerrant and unread.”

Many years ago, there was a young man who was very brilliant but very lost. His soul was in turmoil. He had come to believe that Christianity is true, but he was still clinging to his sin.

As the storm raged inside him, he walked outside one day and heard some children playing a game next door. Part of the game involved the chant, “Take up and read, Take up and read.”

Just at that moment, the young man looked down, and there on the bench was a Bible. He took it up, read a passage from the book of Romans, and the Holy Spirit opened his heart to repent and trust in Jesus.

That young man was Augustine, who would go on to become one of Christianity’s greatest theologians.

So the first and greatest principle is to simply “take up and read.” Your Bible doesn’t need to be collecting dust on your shelf. It needs to be in your hands often, and working its way into your heart.

Second, it is important to cultivate a regular habit of Bible reading. God’s Word is far too vital to our spiritual growth for our reading of it to be sporadic. The more that you get into God’s Word, the more of it you will want.

You will begin to experience the Spirit working in your life through God’s Word. You will begin to better understand God’s character and his great love for you. You will begin to know more about his wonderful promises.

It will become the kind of addiction you need.

Third, learn to read the Bible in context. It helps to study whole books of the Bible. Each book of the Bible was meant to be read this way.

For example, when we read a letter or email from a friend, we don’t just read part of it. We read the whole thing. So read whole books of the Bible.

And then reread them, again and again. You’ll get something new each time.

And then come in for the close-up. Think about verses, meditate on them, pray about them, memorize them and apply them.

It is helpful to make notes or journal about what God is teaching you.

The Bible is an inexhaustible treasure trove. Start digging into it and mining its treasures.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.