On Sunday, Lawson Murray cited research from a study of over 7,000 churches that compared the impact of fifty different spiritual disciplines and activities. The assumption was that lots of church programs and activities were what was most needed to help people grow. But what the survey showed was that Bible reading and reflection is hands down the single greatest determining factor in spiritual growth. If you read the Bible and reflect on it, you will grow in your Christian life. If you don’t, you can do all kinds of other good Christian things, but your faith will languish. And yet a majority of Canadian Christians seldom read the Bible. This week I read about some of the findings of The Canadian Bible Engagement Study. It was interesting to see what factors determine whether people will read the Bible or not.
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?
Last month I talked about the free Olive Tree Bible study app, the value of getting a current study Bible, as well as a new reading plan from the Bible Project with short YouTube videos introducing each book of the Bible. Seeing their two new videos on the book of Genesis this week I was amazed again at the insight these short clips contain. They helped me to see Jesus as the wounded Saviour in Genesis 3:15 and Noah as a second Adam in Genesis 6 who, like the first Adam, again gave in to temptation in a garden and ends up naked and ashamed in Genesis 9:20-23. Even their description of Genesis 12-50 as accounts of repeated human failure followed by expressions of God’s faithfulness in rescuing and blessing His people, climaxing with the theme of Genesis 50:20 that what people plan for evil is used by God for our good (Genesis 50:20) gives me a road map as I’ve been reading through these sections.