REVELATION 1:3: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” NKJV
OBSERVATION: Do you read your Bible? This may sound like an unnecessary question for a believer. Yet, in today’s church, the sad truth is that most Christians are Biblically illiterate. They own several Bibles, they have the Bible app on their phones, and they carry their Bible to church, yet they rarely open the pages of Scripture as they struggle from one week to the next.
I used to be in this camp. I read my Bible, but I did not read it regularly. Many times I made a goal to read my Bible from cover to cover, only to fizzle out sometime in February. I bought the One Year Bible, I tried several reading programs – all without success. I would read my Bible to prepare for a sermon, periodically throughout the week, but I was defeated by the tyranny of the urgent in my daily routine.
As I close out this year, I will celebrate reading through the Bible from cover to cover. I have enjoyed doing this over the past 20 years as I have practiced a discipline I believe the Lord gave to me. I call this the L.I.F.E. Program. It is very simple. I simply read three chapters of the Old Testament and one chapter of the New Testament each day. If I miss a day I simply pick up where I left off. And, I have finished the Bible each year since beginning this discipline.
However, my goal is not simply to read through the Bible as if I was running a meaningless marathon. My goal is to do much more. As I read the opening verses of the Book of Revelation I was reminded that I need to do more than simply read the Bible.
I need to READ, HEAR, and KEEP God’s Word!
This is what the L.I.F.E. Program of Bible reading is all about. Here are the simple steps in the acronym.
L – LIGHT: I do my reading each day, prayerfully and expectantly. I trust the Holy Spirit to illuminate (light) something in my reading and to speak to my heart in a personal way.
I – INTERCESSION: I pray before I begin reading and I also pray throughout the reading process. As I read I pause to pray over what I am reading and many times over people that the Lord places on my heart during this time in His Word. I am not just reading. I am having a daily conversation with God through His Word and prayer.
F – FORGIVENESS: I have found that as I read God’s Word, as I hear what the Holy Spirit is speaking to my heart, I must come to the foot of the cross for forgiveness, cleansing, and grace. When we hear the still small voice of the Spirit it will always lead us to the cross to find God’s provision for our lack and our daily living.
E – ENGAGEMENT: Reading God’s Word, hearing the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and receiving His forgiveness, cleansing, and grace, will lead to action in our life. John’s introduction promises a blessing to those who read, hear, and keep! It is the keeping where God’s grace meets our obedience. If we do not engage what we have read and heard there will be no growth. Spiritual growth only takes root when our prayers are followed by our obedience in response to the grace of God working in our lives.
One final note. All of the above would not have the impact that it needs to have if I omitted one important thing – JOURNALING! Imagine you were paying for a degree program at one of the finest colleges in the nation. Do you think you would benefit only from the lectures – if you did not take notes? Would you remember what you had heard during the hour? Would you be able to study and prepare for the tests you would be required to take? Taking notes is paramount to growing in knowledge.
This is why I journal regularly. This is exactly what I am doing right now. I am not writing these words to impress anyone. I am writing these words more for my benefit than anyone else. I need to wrestle with the word the Holy Spirit is speaking to me. I need to grapple with the thoughts in my mind and my heart. And, I need to call myself to action and implementation. Without this exercise, everything will be easily forgotten.
And, so I read, listen, pray, grapple, journal, and engage. I do this daily. I do this with great expectations. I do this each year by reading a new version of an unmarked Bible so I am greeting the text like it is the first time I ever read it. And, I do this with joy. My discipline has become my delight. I can’t wait to begin this process again in the New Year.
Lord, grant me the grace to continue to read, hear, and keep Your Word – so that I can experience L.I.F.E.!
In Jesus’ Name!