As we learn to abide in Christ, we’re reading through Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney. You can still catch up with chapter one, if you want to read along with us. The book is available online or on Sundays at the Karis Connecting Table.
Jacob Mitchell is our deacon over security. He shares his thoughts on chapter two, “Bible Intake - Part 1.”
Here’s a scenario that occurs all too often in my own life: Before going to bed, I set my alarm to go off early the next morning so I can get up and read the Bible before going to work. The next day I wake up and drag myself out of bed after hitting the snooze button a few too many times. I shower, eat breakfast, and chug coffee. I’m running late but try to read a little anyway. As soon as I sit down, my daughter wakes up crying. I promise myself I’ll read the Bible that night. That evening I get home from work, eat dinner, help put the baby to sleep, watch too many episodes of 24 on Netflix, and then use all my remaining energy to throw myself into bed. I may pick up the Bible, but my eyes won’t stay open long enough to get through more than a couple verses. I set my alarm to get up early the next morning and do it all over again.
What’s the problem here? I say I want to spend time in God’s Word, but my actions are showing that I care more about sleeping and watching TV. As new creations in Christ, we cannot be satisfied with this. The practices of hearing, reading, and studying the Bible lead to the change our hearts need.
Hearing God’s Word
In reading this chapter, I was really convicted about something. Do we really grasp the gravity of what happens at a Sunday Gathering? We are sinful, broken people whom God chose to be his children. We are blessed to gather together as family around the Word of God. Brothers and sisters around the world risk their lives for this, and yet we can make it so trivial. We lose sight of the fact that this gathering together is for the purpose of godliness, a pursuit that we are not even capable of wanting to undertake on our own. It’s only by the grace of God that we even so much as desire godliness, so we should take this time very seriously.
Reading God’s Word
Whitney does a great job of showing us that we need the Bible daily. He gives three practical, helpful suggestions for success. Find the time, find a plan, and find part of the reading to meditate on. I’ve learned from experience that if I don’t set aside a specific time to read the Bible, it doesn’t happen. For me, mornings work best. I also like having a plan. This year I started the ESV Study Bible reading plan. You read from four different passages each day, and there is even a podcast for each day with the passages read aloud.
Studying God’s Word
This subdiscipline takes a little more work. For me, a lot of this is directed by my daily reading. Maybe there’s something that stood out to me or was a little confusing, and I want to dig deeper. Whitney gives some great tips on where to start with this.
While developing the discipline of Bible intake, it’s important to remember that we’re not just trying to cross things off of some “Good Christian Checklist.” The purpose is godliness. The more we practice this discipline, the more we will want to practice it. In coming closer to Him, God changes our hearts so that we love Him, and as a result His Word, more than we did before. That is a purpose well worth lost sleep and less TV.
What do you think?
• Do you have any practical ways that we can prepare ourselves for worship on Sundays? How can we get ourselves in the right frame of mind to hear the Word preached? • Do you have a routine or plan that helps you make Bible reading a daily habit? • Do you have a particular method that you like to use for studying God’s Word? Something that helps you focus on and dig deeper into certain passages?
Would you share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below? If you missed any other posts in the Abide series, you can catch up here. Come back next week for Chapter three, Bible Intake, Part 2.