Followers of Christ are marked by their love for God’s Word. We’ve experienced the power of the Bible in our lives. And so we can relate when we hear the psalmist refer to the Word as a lamp to his feet and a light to his path (Psalm 119:105). God’s Word guides us more clearly than anything else we know of. And we’ve all felt its purifying power in our lives. We know what the psalmist is saying when he testifies, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). Where verses of Scripture take root in our hearts they form unshakable convictions that protect and shape us. And so God’s Word is precious to us, not just necessary for us. We know the commands to seek God’s Word embodied in statements like “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4), but we also know the great privilege and preciousness of the Scriptures that Job testified of: “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food” (Job 23:12). We feel both the compulsion as well as the attraction of God’s Word, but (you just knew there was a “but” coming right?), many, many people get stuck in their daily reading of God’s Word. Are you in a devotional rut?
Some people are in a rut because they came to the conclusion somewhere along the line that Bible reading was just too difficult for them. Maybe the plan was too ambitious. Maybe the expectations were unrealistic. Maybe they just didn’t stick at it long enough. Or maybe they never really counted the cost in terms of blocking out specific time to get alone with God. If you’re in a rut of not reading the Bible daily, I want to encourage you to get out of the rut. I want to urge you to try something different in 2017. I want to invite you to make a plan as if your life depended on it – because it does!
Other people are not in a rut of not reading the Scriptures; they’re in a rut of reading the Scriptures. These people have a plan that works for them, and they’ve maybe been doing it for years. But it’s a rut because it’s gotten a little stale. There’s no variety. Obviously God’s Word has plenty of variety, but sometimes we need variety in our approach to how we read and meditate on God’s Word in order to stay fresh. If you’ve been using the same approach to Bible study for several years now, can I encourage you to try something different?
There are many options for getting out of a devotional rut:
- Our Daily Bread: Many people get started in Bible reading through the daily devotional, Our Daily Bread. What started as a print booklet is now, not surprisingly, also available through e-mail and as a mobile app. It can be a great tool but it’s also very easy to get stuck reading the devotional thought and verse and never actually devote time to reading the Bible for yourself – commit to doing both! If other plans haven’t worked for you, why not give Our Daily Bread a try? If you’ve been using it for a number of years, why not try something different? Expanding your tool kit of approaches to Bible study may be just what you need.
- Find out more here: https://odb.org/ (Click on “subscribe” to get connected.)
- The Bible Project: Last year I recommended The Bible Project’s reading plan through the Bible in a year. Having completed this as a family, I would continue to heartily endorse this. The daily Bible readings are similar to other plans but the video introductions to the books of the Bible are priceless. Now they have added theme videos also that trace a concept (e.g. God’s holiness, or the image of God) through the entire Bible. If you want to read through the Bible this year and want something to help you understand what you’re reading, The Bible Project is a good way to go. You can sign up for e-mails or get the app with the ESV text and videos built right in.
- Find out more here: https://thebibleproject.com/reading-plan/
- SOAP Method: Reading through large portions of Scripture can be very rewarding. Getting the broad sweep of God’s message can be very helpful. But often people complain that they read and nothing seems to stick. If you’ve been reading consistently like this for a number of years now, I’d encourage you to try something different. Take a shorter block of reading and spend more time meditating on the meaning and how it applies to your life. The SOAP method (Scripture Observation Application Prayer) is one of the simplest methods to get you started, but the key is to get a pen and notebook out as you read, and ask God to help you think long enough on the message of the passage that you can understand it and apply it personally.
- Find out more here: http://goharvest.net/sites/harvest/files/SOAP%20Flyer.pdf
If you manage to get out of a Bible reading rut in 2017, please let me know. And let’s talk to each other about our devotional joys and struggles – we need one another’s help!
In awe of Him,