Take up and read the Bible

Published 11:30 pm Friday, April 27, 2018

By Thurman Hayes

As I sit here writing this column, there is a gentle rain falling outside, and flowers are everywhere — dogwoods, azaleas and so many more.

In Isaiah 55:10-11, God says, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

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What a promise about the power of God’s Word! God is assuring us here that his Word, wherever it is sown, will not return void. Just as the raindrops that are falling outside my window right now will nourish the earth, and cause things to “bring forth and sprout,” God’s Word will bring forth fruit in our lives.

Therefore, Bible intake is essential for anyone who wants to grow in Christ. For far too many of us, the Bibles in our homes sit on the shelves, “inspired, infallible and unread.”

Augustine turned out to be arguably the greatest theologian of the Christian church, after the Apostle Paul. But Augustine’s life did not begin as a lover of God. Augustine pursued fame and lust. Thankfully, he had a godly mother, Monica, who prayed faithfully for her son. God answered her prayers by putting Christian believers in Augustine’s path. The Holy Spirit began to work in his heart, bringing him to a crisis point. Just at this time, in the providence of God, Augustine wandered into a garden.

Some children were playing a game nearby. As part of the game, one child called out to another in Latin, “Tolle Lege, Tolle Lege,” which means, “Take up and read, take up and read.”

Augustine looked, and there on a bench was a Bible. He took it up and began to read. He turned to the book of Romans, and the Spirit of God pierced his heart as he read. God opened Augustine’s heart to respond to the good news of the gospel, and his life was forever changed.

So the first thing I would say to you about the Bible is simply this: Take up and read. Begin to fill your mind and heart with God’s Word, and the Holy Spirit will begin to fill you with hope and transform you. It is hard for me to even describe, because it is supernatural. I will leave it to you to take up the Bible and take up the invitation of Psalm 34:8, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”

The second thing I would say to you about God’s Word is to think and pray about what you are reading. Chew on it, encourage yourself with it, and preach it to yourself.

The third thing I would say is to put it into practice. Be a doer of the Word, not a hearer only.

Finally, if you don’t already have one, join a church where the Bible is preached. We need other believers to help us grow in Christ. We need to be learning and growing in God’s Word together.

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