Here’s one good reason why I’m needing to read the Bible through again. Hebrews 4:12 and 13 says, “For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
And that “two-edged word” thing stays in my mind. It’s a good thing for me to read the Bible and put it to practice. But for me to read it and be no better as a result; well now, that’s something altogether different. Jesus said it’s better for a servant not to know his Masters will, than to know it and not do it. So by reading the Bible, I’m either calling down a blessing or a cursing on myself. And the choice is entirely up to me.
And I don’t want to be hardheaded. I am hardheaded, but I am trying to mend the error of my shiftless ways. I just got through reading about Elijah in I Kings. He was hiding in a cave and the Almighty let him know He was about to speak to him. Elijah came out to the mouth of the cave and waited. He saw a strong wind coming and it was tearing the mountains apart and shattering rocks. Then scripture says, “But the Lord was not in the wind”. Then an earthquake shook the place, “But the Lord was not in the earthquake”. After that a fire came raging toward him, “But the Lord was not in the fire”. Finally, the Lord spoke to him in “a gentle whisper”. Just between you and me, I really like an earth shattering experience. I’d like Him to make it so abundantly clear to me that there wouldn’t be any possibility of me missing the point He’s trying to make.
I like the Apostle Peter. He reminds me a lot of myself. He wasn’t a big thinker, but he sure had a big mouth. He was always up for a good fistfight, and he had a habit of getting in over his head. In Acts 10, God was about to include the Gentiles in His plan of salvation. Peter was His man, only he didn’t know it yet. Peter was a hardheaded, patriotic, upright Jew, so he never would have gone to the Gentiles on his own. You ought to read about the big song and dance act the Lord had to go through in advance just to get Peter ready for the idea. That’s the way I am. I want a vision. I want a loud voice that I can’t miss. But all that is, is a sign that I’m too slow and stubborn. I need to be listening for the quiet voice.
One thing I had to do to get quiet is turn off the news. I turned it off before Christmas and I haven’t gone back to it – yet. Not only is it quieter in my house and shop, but it is quieter in my head. For the first time in a really long time, I’m not bombarded and overrun by all the gossip, nonsense, and stuff that I absolutely can’t do anything about. And see, here’s something else I learned in the Bible. Reading for understanding is like planting a garden. Before I could get my garden going, there was a lot of preparation I had to do. You can’t just go out there and throw out a bunch of seeds. I had to chop down trees and dig out roots. I had to put up a fence and till up that hard ground. I made rows and spread fertilizer. Finally, I planted me some seeds. There is absolutely no need to try to read the Bible in the middle of chaos, or while I’m multitasking. Stuff gets in the way and seeds from His Word just won’t grow in me.
Here’s a key to succeeding at anything we try to do: 30 minutes a day! I teach folks to play the guitar, mandolin, and bass, and the assignment for the week always requires 30 minutes of practice each day. There’s always somebody who thinks if they don’t practice for long enough, then I’ll give them that smart pill that turns them into a guitar player without any effort. But there’s no getting around the fact that if we’re ever going to be good at something, then it requires consistent effort. That’s the way it is with reading the Bible and getting physically fit. There is a book called “Thirty Days To A Better Vocabulary”. If a person were to stay on track with the assignment, then in 30 days they would have a better vocabulary. I’d never expect to get anywhere in my Bible reading if I just did a little bit here and there. I have time every day now, because I’m not spending time watching the news.
I’d like to sign off by quoting Psalm 119. OK, I’m just foolin’. I ain’t quoting Psalm 119. That’s the longest chapter in the Bible. Within the Bible, it attests to the merits of reading the Bible. This chapter is all about the goodness of reading the Bible. I won’t try to summarize it. But read the chapter one day.
Makin’ sawdust & Diggin’ the music