Twenty years ago, when I first began reading through my Bible in a purposeful way, with a commitment to myself to read through annually, I had no idea how significantly God would bless me through the pages of His Word.
Yesterday, however, as I completed my annual journey and recorded the date in the back of my Bible, I looked at the previous dates already recorded there, and I began to reflect on some of the events that had taken place during those years.
These weren’t all easy years.
Some were full of joy and others full of challenge. Some were downright tumultuous.
But through the ups and downs, joys and sorrows of these years, I have had an anchor.
The anchor wasn’t me. I certainly have not always responded to each of these challenges with the confident faith I’d like.
The anchor was the Book which yesterday I once again finished reading—God’s very Word.
I’ve written before about how it all started—with a challenge to read through the Bible in one year, accompanied by an example of journaling, followed by the joy of discovery that God’s Word would speak to me.
This started a journey that God has used to change—and shape—my life. Looking back, I’ve gained so much more than I ever knew I would through the pages of God’s Word.
What does God give through His Word?
When I first started, it was probably more to know truth about God than to know God Himself.
I remember how thrilling it was in those early days when I realized as a teenager that God would speak to me through His Word about the very situations I was currently facing. I soaked those verses up—and even recorded them in a journal.
Over time, however, my focus in reading shifted. God still teaches me truth through His Word. (And I still need His wisdom, guidance, and insight!) But I find myself increasingly delighting in how God’s Word reveals Himself.
He, who is the Living Word, makes Himself known to me through His written Word. And I hope I never get over that.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.—John 1:14
And I find that my desire to know Him and to know all He has given me in Him increases as I spend time with Him through the pages of His Word.
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him…—Philippians 3:9–10
It’s not only what we learn through Scripture that is so life changing, but it is also the renewing that takes place in our hearts as we do it day by day.
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.—2 Corinthians 4:16
For all the issues and needed areas of of growth that I have, for all the seasons when I haven’t grown through or responded to challenges as I’d like…I have had a source of daily renewal—the Spirit of God renewing my inner man through His Word.
In fact, for whatever ups and downs there have been (and looking back, there have been many times I could have totally derailed), I’m so grateful for the habit that God helped me develop as a teenager of daily reading His Word. There is no other spiritual discipline that has been more personally profitable than this.
This one seems out of place to me for this short list, but it is a gift God has given me in more ways than I ever knew I needed when I began regularly reading His Word. And biblical hope comes in so many shapes and sizes, too. It comes through God’s promises in our areas of need, but it also comes through perspective as we read the larger story of Scripture.
Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.—Psalm 119:14
Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.—Psalm 119:49
Hope comes as we see how God has sovereignly worked through history and how He has personally worked in individual’s lives. It comes as we see His truth for our situations; it comes as we glean wisdom for our decisions; it comes as day-by-day we find renewal and strength through His presence and promises; and it comes as we understand God’s great redemptive plan and believe His promises for a “happily ever after” eternity with Him.
Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;—Colossians 1:4–5
There’s more than these three—so much more.
But I share these for three reasons that I hope will be an encouragement to you:
If you are already spending time in God’s Word daily, keep it up. I know there are days when it doesn’t seem like it’s changing you, days when you feel like you’re simply going through motions, days when you’re discouraged because you’re falling out of the habit. Keep going. God is honored by your faith.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.—Hebrews 11:6
If you don’t currently, have a consistent time in God’s Word daily, begin now. Here at the beginning of January is actually a great time to start. It doesn’t matter which reading schedule you use. It doesn’t really matter how you do it or where you start. I’ve used a variety of schedules—beginning to end, chronological, Old and New Testament together, in print, on a screen—it’s all good. Journaling definitely adds clarity to the journey and helps you know where you’ve been. But just start.
Don’t be discouraged either by previous starts and stops. Start again. It’s a journey worth pursuing.
And finally, I write this post for one more reason—to simply praise God. I never knew how greatly God would use His Word in my life…and I suspect I still don’t know how much more He wants to use it in the days ahead.
But looking back, He has used it profoundly, and I praise Him for it.
Last night, I read Psalm 119, and as I did, I marveled at the many ways God uses His Word in our lives—in my life. And I thanked Him.
Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.—Psalm 119:140