“Behold the days are coming,’ declares the Lord God, ‘when I will send a famine on the land – not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” – Amos 8:11
Among the various reasons given these days offered as explanations for why our nation is in such turmoil, the usual suspects are: political (the wrong guy in office), financial (we’re not spending enough money; but hey, we can always print some more), environmental (we’re ruining the climate), or some combination of racial, sexual, or international tyranny.
Seldom do I hear the word “spiritual” offered as a reason behind the instability most of us are feeling, and of course it would be this way, because ours is arguably the most biblically illiterate generation in all of American history. “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from God,” Jesus said, and if what he said is true, then our nation by-in-large is trying to face a list of mounting threats with utterly barren souls. A spiritual famine is upon the land, which means most of us will not be ready for the storms that are coming.
While I can’t fix global systems, what I can begin to work on is my own heart, so beginning with what Jesus said, what are some ways I can begin to address my own spiritual hunger? It might sound simplistic, but what followers of Christ have insisted upon for 2,000 years is the necessity of learning the discipline of daily seeking fellowship with God centered upon the meditation, i.e. the feeding upon, of Scripture.
If your Bible is gathering dust, or lost, but you’d like to change that, here are seven reasons to encourage you to pursue the habit of daily Bible reading.
1. It’s the Word of God.
“All Scripture is God-breathed,” says 2 Timothy 3:16. These are God’s words to us. “Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit,” is how Peter described God’s inspiration of Scripture (2 Peter 1:21). For that reason, the words of Scripture possess a truthfulness, power, and authority not found in any other book.
There are solid reasons for believing this. If Bible had even the scent of the supernatural over it, then we would reasonably expect 1) that its writing would be beyond compare, 2) that it would be historically, scientifically, and textually accurate, and 3) that it would contain at these some clear evidence of Divinity within it (hint: it’s filled with prophecy, which should you study it, will leave you speechless.)
All of these things are demonstrably true. But for now, simply ask yourself, “If this book is truly the Word of God, then what does that speak to my heart about the priority of regularly poring over it as often as I can?”
2. A life built on the Word of God will flourish, in a way it won’t otherwise.
The Bible asserts over and over again that a person who feeds regularly on its words, and attempts to put them into practice, will enjoy a well-being that others will not. “You shall mediate on it [this book] day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and they you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8; cf. Deuteronomy 6:24, Psalm 1:1-6, Matthew 7:24-27.)
It’s a serious claim which deserves serious consideration. George Washington Carver declared, “What is the secret of my success? It is simple. It is found in the Bible.”
3. Scripture provides the strongest moral foundation for a person’s life.
Do you want to become a person of good morals and character? You’ll find no better textbook that the Bible. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word,” says Psalm 119:9. Two verses later it says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
Pick any area of life where you’re looking for direction or improvement, and you’ll find wisdom in Scripture to guide you. “The Word of God makes large-minded and noble-hearted men,” said Henry Ward Beecher.
4. Living by God’s Word leads to freedom.
Jesus insisted that if we continue in his word, we would know the truth, and the truth would set us free (John 8:31). It seems counterintuitive to how the modern mind thinks, where freedom to be free must be without limits.
The biblical view is that freedom to be free must have boundaries, which are set by God. Sin (choosing behaviors and identity outside of God’s will) leads to bondage (John 8:34). Submission to God’s law leads to life and liberty (James 1:25). Just as my car runs far better when operated according to its design, so a human following the “path of life” prescribed by the Maker will experience “pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). The famous English preacher Charles Spurgeon said, “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who’s not.”
Exhibit A of this principle is found in our culture’s radical experimentation with gender and sexual identity. In abandoning the biblical worldview for sexuality, indescribable misery is being unleashed on our children, the full dimensions of which we are only now beginning to realize. Freedom will not be the end result of following this horrifying philosophy.
5. Knowing its words will renew my family, community, and culture.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,” says Psalm 33:12.
Our nation’s Founding Fathers insisted that the American experiment with democracy would only succeed if the people retained a deep devotion to God. John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” The logic was that if you give citizens greater freedom to run their own lives, then they had better be people of good moral character, to keep from destroying each other with their freedom.
What can produce people who are morally good? Religion, they said. The French historian Tocqueville, wrote, “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.” Look deeper into their writings, examine their speeches, and look on the monuments that fill our nation’s Capital, and you will quickly discern that it is biblical Christianity they had preeminently in mind.
The influence of the Bible on the development of western civilization in general, and the United States in particular, cannot be exaggerated. To be ignorant of that influence, or worse yet to be biblically illiterate altogether, is to leave oneself culturally impoverished.
6. The Bible gives light to those who read it regularly.
“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path,” says Psalm 119:105. The Bible is the surest way for God to speak his truth to my heart.
The light of his truth will teach me the right path to follow, correct me when I get off the path, and train me for righteousness to help me stay on the path (2 Timothy 3:16-17). God’s Word “makes wise the simple” and “enlightens the eyes”, by warning us of danger, and rewarding us for obedience (Psalm 19:7-8, 11).
7. The Bible gives life to those who read it regularly.
God’s Word is also Life (Psalm 119:25). The Bible is the surest way for God to speak directly to my heart.
The Bible is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). It is the Sword of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). I will experience the presence of Christ and hear his voice in its pages (John 10:27, 14:23-24). God’s Word feeds me (Matthew 4:4), revives me and gives me joy (Psalm 19:7-8), cleanses me (Ephesians 5:26), and increases my faith (Romans 10:17).
Abraham Lincoln wrote, “Take all that that you can of this book on reason, the rest on faith, and you will live and die a happier man.”
It’s important to note that the power isn’t in the pages or the words itself. The reading of Scripture will lead to the things we’ve described because it leads me to Christ, and “in him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4). If I miss Christ, I miss it all, like the Pharisees of old (John 5:38-39).
But if in my quiet times I remember that here is where I am meeting with God himself, seeking my Lord, waiting upon him, and enjoying his fellowship, then my life will be forever changed by this indispensable habit.
Bear Clifton, writer and screenwriter, is the pastor of BridgeWay Community Church in California, Maryland. His blogs, screenplays and devotionals can be enjoyed at his ministry website: trainyourselfministry.com and his writing website: blclifton.com. Bear is also the author of “Train Yourself To Be Godly: A 40 Day Journey Toward Sexual Wholeness”, “Ben-Hur: The Odyssey”, “A Sparrow Could Fall”, and his latest – “Living Under The Cross”, a collection of essays on the Beatitudes – all available through Amazon.