Any Christian will tell you that the Bible is the inspired word of God. Some say the Bible was given to us as a guide, while others would assert that each word must be followed by the letter. Some demand that the only real Bible is the King James version of 1611, and therefore The Message translation is pure heresy! Find your spot on the spectrum and have a seat. Relax. I’m not going to support or defend any of the assertions above. What I hope to do is provide an ounce of inspiration that will enable you to enjoy the moments when you get to read the Bible. May each day be filled with opportunities to sit and hear from God, and may some of these be times that you read the Bible. I hope you got that concept.
Reading the Bible is just one way to hear from God–it’s not the only way. When we pause and think about it, the concept is simple. But it’s easier to rely on a checklist and ask some pointed questions about the time spent reading rather than hearing and learning.
The Bible is only a drop of words in an ocean of existence.
If we agree that God is omnipotent, omnipresent, omni____, and if He’s been around since the beginning of creation, the words He has spoken are like the stars in the sky: impossible to count. Here’s your math equation: Words in the Bible divided by the words God has spoken throughout eternity. Let’s agree that the number is very small.
The Bible is only the highlight reel to help us learn to hear God’s voice, to know His character, and understand His relentless pursuit of redemption for His creation.
It is NOT an idol to be placed prominently on the mantle above the fireplace. It’s a story to build us up, to encourage and equip, to rebuke and punish, to be shared from the heart.
Please don’t misunderstand my point. I’m grateful for the many ways the Bible has been published and made available to us. Adding chapter and verse numbers was an ingenious invention that helps to guide our discussion and builds uniformity. These are great features that improve understanding of the text, and I’m happy they exist.
I am authentically excited about the time I get to spend reading the Bible! I’m not trying to impress you, but I am trying to change your perspective from a duty that’s performed to a privilege that you anticipate. The idea extends beyond the Bible and can change the way you approach reading if you let it. Let me introduce you to the Reading Room.
The Reading Room
Imagine you’re walking in a hallway going from your bedroom to the kitchen. Place yourself in some luxurious manor, perhaps the Biltmore, or some such place. As you’re walking down the hall, you see a door open on the left. You glance in to see two chairs by the fireplace. One is empty. One is not. You pause for a moment and realize the one sitting in the adjacent chair is The One. Jesus is waiting for you to come and sit with Him by the fire for a few minutes as you begin your busy day. He wants to tell you a story, to speak to you, to remind you of mistakes His people have made in the past, of triumphs, of great faith, and even ridiculous failure. He’s waiting for you to come and sit and listen for a few minutes.
This is reading the Bible. This is learning to hear the very voice of God in our lives.
When you think about reading the Bible, consider Jesus sitting there with an empty chair asking you to join him. He won’t keep you long. After all, he’s given you work to do for his kingdom. But he does want to talk to you. He desires to teach you in many ways, one of which is through the stories in the Bible.
Here’s the thought: Will you continue walking down that hallway without stopping? Are you too busy to sit with Jesus for a few minutes?
Take the time to sit and listen as the words fill your mind. Imagine Jesus saying something like, “Do you remember the time when a shepherd boy confronted a giant?” or “Let me teach you about honor and dignity by telling you a story about Mephibosheth.” In these moments, he is speaking those words for you, his only student at this moment. He wants what’s best for you.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10b
When you hear a verse quoted like the one above, ask Jesus to help you understand where that came from, i.e., back up a few verses and get the context for that quote.
The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them. John 10:3-6
Read the Bible, yes, but listen to his voice as you read. When the time comes, and he calls you by name, you’ll be glad to know you listened well and know his voice.
Lord, I love the fact that you are always there for us. Help us to take advantage of your presence in our lives today.