“…my heart stands in awe of Your word. I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure.” Psalm 119:161-162
I like new beginnings. There’s something rejuvenating about a fresh start, and the onset of a new year is an excellent time to begin a brand new discipline. I’ve been thinking quite a bit about New Year’s resolutions. I personally never liked that word until I was reminded of the seventy life-shaping resolutions Jonathan Edwards made as a young man. If that saintly man benefited from making resolutions, I guess I can too. Perhaps one reason some of us don’t especially like the term is because we have failed too many times to keep the ones we’ve made. I’ve certainly had more than my share of unkept resolves.
But there is one resolution that I, with God’s help, have been able to maintain. And I believe it to be the most important one I have ever undertaken. I was blessed to have been taught the importance of reading and studying the Bible from my early adulthood, but I never saw the importance of reading ALL of Scripture in a systematic fashion. I read all the way through a paraphrase of the Bible for the first time as a lost teenager. But after becoming a Christian at seventeen, until close to fifty years of age, I had only read from Genesis to Revelation a handful of times. However, one January after hearing a friend talk about the importance of systematically reading God’s Word, I began a new pilgrimage of reading through the Bible at least once every year. And it has truly been a practice that has changed my life. I’m convinced there are a lot of ladies out there who are in the same place I was. You love the Lord, and you spend time reading the Word, but you’ve just never seen the significance of reading all the way through from beginning to end. Well, dear sisters, you are the ones I would like to challenge.
I want to encourage you to commit to read from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 this year. Come December, you will be so glad you did, and I bet you’ll want to do it again. Reading through the Bible is a blessing in countless ways. First of all, you get a panoramic view of Scripture that begins to pull it all together. You see, the Bible is one grand story from beginning to end. Chapters should be read and studied in light of the entire book in which they’re found. Each individual book makes more sense if you understand how it dovetails with the whole. Your comprehension of the smaller stories and themes will grow as you begin to see how they fit together in the big picture. Many of the Old Testament portions you may struggle to grasp will begin to make sense when you can see them in light of God’s overall account. Even the Old Testament narratives you’ve been familiar with since your Sunday School days will take on an added dimension of richness and depth as you assimilate how they relate to, illustrate, and fit into the magnificent, sweeping story of redemption.
As you read day in and day out, of course there will be passages you just don’t understand. But keep reading, and as you do, week after week and month after month, you will come across other texts that shed light on those you are unsure of. There are so many things we miss in the Scriptures if our reading is limited to our favorite books or sections. I would have missed out on the great comfort I have found in the third chapters of Lamentations and Habakkuk if I avoided those less familiar portions of the Bible. I wouldn’t comprehend why Rahab is listed in “the hall of faith” in Hebrews 11 if I had never read the book of Joshua. We can even glean inspiration from those mundane lists of genealogies. I still remember the first time I realized that the only four women listed alongside Mary in the genealogy of Christ in the first chapter of Matthew had been women of questionable character or background. Tamar played the part of a prostitute and bore her father-in-law’s illegitimate baby. Rahab had been a harlot, and Ruth was from a heathen country. Bathsheba had infamously slept with King David, bringing a reproach that would never be wiped away while giving the enemies of God occasion to blaspheme. But God placed these weak, flawed, less than honorable women in the lineage of our pure, sinless Savior; and then He recorded their names in His holy book for us to read and marvel at His amazing grace. My heart rejoiced as I realized that the Lord is pleased to use frail, sinful women just like me to carry out His divine purposes. But of course, that list of names would have never impacted me in that way had I not read their stories in the Old Testament.
The only way to develop a right understanding of ourselves, sin, temptation, worship, and most importantly, the Lord, is to consistently spend time reading His Word. It is amazing to think that the great Creator of the Universe has revealed Himself in part to us. What an awesome privilege we have been given to know Him through the inspired pages of Scripture!
Another incredible benefit of methodically reading through the Bible is that as we behold Christ in His Word we are transformed more and more into His likeness. II Corinthians 3:18 promises, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” That’s what I long for…to be more like Christ. But it won’t happen by spending my precious time perusing the latest fashion magazines, reading extensively about celebrities, or spending hours scrolling through Facebook. I am transformed into that glorious image by spending time with Him in His Word.
That’s why of all the many resolutions you can make, systematic Bible reading is among the best. For there is nothing more important than knowing God and in the process becoming increasingly like His Son. Becoming more fit, well read, and financially successful all put together doesn’t begin to compare. So, even if like me, you’re a bit slow at getting around to things, it’s not too late to begin. Reading at a moderate pace, it only takes about twenty minutes a day to make your way through. So, don’t delay…pick up your Bible, find a quiet place to read, and delight in the priceless treasures you’ll uncover.
Soli Deo Gloria