Monday, July 6, 2015

Start the day with the Bible

Man on hill holding Bible

This is a multi-message blog. The main subject is reading your Bible daily, but there is an underlying message that is very strong. Change. When we are engaged in change, it happens very slowly. Such as change in behavior, losing weight, etc. It has been shown that if you move your trash can to a new location, it will take about a month before you will throw trash to the new spot every time. Change takes time. So when you read this blog, just remember that the underlying concept is changing to a new behavior. And if you can do it with reading your Bible, you have internalized the concept that can bring you success in many other areas. It would be cool to write down a list of those areas where you need to change. Become aware of what needs to be different in your life.

Nothing will change your life like the habit of reading God’s Word.

It won’t feel that way at first. In fact, it might not feel that way for a long time. Perhaps that is why 80% of church goers don’t read their Bibles on a daily basis.

If you start reading the Bible every day, you should know what to expect. It won’t feel like much at first. In fact, it won’t feel like much for a long time. There will be lots of days when it feels—dare I say it—a tad boring.

If you start reading your Bible every day, it won’t be a glorious, earth-shaking experience that makes you want to shout. If it were, everyone would do it. You might be thinking, “Why bother?”
Here is what you can expect. There will be a few days from time to time that will make you want to shout. There will be some days that you will see amazing insights in His Word. You will follow times in His Word with prayer that will be absolutely glorious. You will see application that will be life-changing. But, most days won’t be like that.

What will happen is that you will wake up a few months from now and notice that you are changing. Your heart is becoming more tender. You worry less than you used to. You curse less than you used to. You are more compassionate to others, both in heart and deed. You tip better at restaurants. You don’t yell at your kids as much.

It is a little like education. Ask a child what he learned today at school. “Nothing.”

He is not trying to be aloof. He honestly cannot recall a single thing he learned. But, somehow, in a few years he will be able read and write. He will be competent in math. He will know something about history. What day did he learn any of this? You can ask him every day what he learned and every day he will tell you he didn’t learn anything. But, somehow, in a few years, he would have learned a lot.

So it is with reading the Bible. On any one day, it won’t mean much. But, keep it up for a time and it is life-changing.

Physical exercise works much the same way. Suppose you have not been in the habit of running. Go out and run for as long and hard as you can. Then walk some. Then run some more. Keep this up for about an hour. Tell me, do you feel better or worse? Was it a glorious experience that made you feel invigorated? Or, was it exhausting and made you want to lay on the bed and never do that again?

Suppose you take another approach. Get out and take a walk. Walk a little more than is comfortable—a little faster than is comfortable, and a little longer than is comfortable. Do this every day for six months. Now, tell me if you don’t feel better.

One more example. Suppose your marriage is, like a lot of marriages, starved for time. Marriage expert Willard Harley recommends a couple have at least fifteen hours a week of undistracted couple-time. This doesn’t count things like watching the kids together, or watching TV together. This only counts times of one-on-one communication. Let’s suppose you are under Harley’s recommended fifteen hours a week.

Let’s suppose you start going out on a date night once a week and spend three hours together alone every Friday night. The first Friday night may not mean all that much. In fact, if you have not been in the habit of talking, you might find you don’t have much to say. The habit of conversation becomes sweeter with practice. But, keep it up for six months and you will find you are closer. Much of life works this way.

 Josh Hunt, The Habit of Discipleship (Pulpit Press, 2015).

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