Reading the Bible sustains you

Published 10:09 pm Thursday, December 27, 2018

By Thurman Hayes

As 2018 winds down and you prepare to enter a New Year, perhaps you have determined to make 2019 the year when you become more disciplined in reading your Bible.

If that is the case, I want to encourage you: You have made an incredibly wise and strategic decision, one that has the potential for incredible life change. In fact, it will not only impact you, but your changed life will impact others.

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For some of you, I suspect this is not the first time you have entered into a new year with renewed determination to get into God’s Word. Perhaps you have tried in the past, and failed. You gave up somewhere along the line.

If that is the case, I want to encourage you not to beat yourself up or look back. But it is helpful to learn from the past. Why do so many people start with the desire to read through the Bible and give up?

For some people, it’s as simple as life getting in the way. Satan loves to distract us and get us so busy with trivial things that we lose sight of the things that really matter.

But for others, perhaps the reason you gave up is that you came at your Bible reading with some expectations that need to be adjusted. Here’s what I mean by that. Maybe you expected an extraordinary experience every time you opened your Bible. But I want you to pay attention to these words by Trevin Wax, who says, “We’re right to approach the Bible with anticipation, to expect to hear from God in a powerful and personal way. But the way the Bible does its work on our hearts is often not through the lightning bolt, but through the gentle and quiet rhythms of opening up our lives before this open Book and asking God to change us. Change doesn’t always happen overnight. Growth doesn’t happen in an instant. Instead, it happens over time, as we eat and drink and exercise. The same is true of Scripture reading. Not every meal is at a steakhouse. Not every meal is memorable. Can you remember what you had for dinner, say, two weeks ago? Probably not. But that meal sustained you, didn’t it? In the same way, we come to feast on God’s Word, recognizing that it’s the daily rhythm of submitting ourselves to God and bringing our plans and hopes and fears to Him that makes the difference.”

Sometimes when I open my Bible in the morning, something in the Word will hit me like a lightning bolt. There are times when I literally weep for joy, or laugh, or just exclaim out loud, “Thank You, Lord!” I know He has given me a direct insight or answer to prayer or spiritual breakthrough.

But most days, it is just the quiet, still small voice speaking to me through His Word — encouraging me with His love, assuring me with His promises, convicting me of my sin, and challenging me to draw closer to Him.

As Wax observes, “This is ordinary routine, yes, but ordinary routines can change your life.” Indeed they can, and my prayer for you is that picking up your Bible and reading it will be a life-changing, daily routine for you in 2019.

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