If you could do ONE THING each and every day that would have an enormous impact on your life, what would it be? Think about it. A better attitude, improved food choices, consistent exercise, wise financial decisions, and even smarter sleep habits all come to mind—but that is not what I’m getting at. There is something of greater importance. Something that impacts all other areas of your life. It should be at the top of every believer’s list.
Resolve to read your Bible.
I know, yes, it can be a struggle to stay consistent. But don’t let that stop you. This single-solitary discipline will prove to be the best habit you’ll ever develop. God’s Word will guide your every step, “Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105). It will give you both wisdom and warnings, “The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (v. 130). It is the most valuable possession you will ever own, “I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil” (v. 162).
With this year’s commitment of reading through the Old Testament—I have decided to use the NIV Zondervan Study Bible as my guide. The notes are some of the best I’ve ever seen; helping to ensure that the time spent reading is good reading. Profitable. Dr. D.A. Carson writes in one of the articles supplied in the back of this excellent resource:1
It’s been said that the Bible is like a body of water in which a child may wade and an elephant may swim. The youngest Christian can read the Bible with profit, for the Bible’s basic message is simple. But we can never exhaust its depth.
After decades of intense study, the most senior Bible scholars find that they’ve barely scratched the surface. Although we cannot know anything with the perfection of God’s knowledge (His knowledge is absolutely exhaustive!), yet because God has disclosed things, we can know those things truly…
“Exegesis” is the word often used for careful reading. Exegesis answers the questions, “What does this text actually say?” and “What did the author mean by what he said?” We discover this by applying sound principles of interpretation to the Bible.
Fundamental to reading the Bible well is good reading. Good readers pay careful attention to words and their meanings and to the ways sentences, paragraphs, and longer units are put together. They observe that the Bible is a book that includes many different styles of literature—stories, laws, proverbs, poetry, prophecy, history, parables, letters, apocalyptic, and much more.
Good readers follow the flow of texts. For example, while it is always worth meditating on individual words and phrases, the most important factor in determining what a word means is how the author uses that word in a specific context.
One of the best signs of good exegesis is asking thoughtful questions that drive us to “listen” attentively to what the Bible says. As we read the text again and again, these questions are progressively honed, sharpened, corrected, or discarded.
Are you reading His Word? One of the most measurable marks of a man’s life is found in his commitment to do so daily—to read the Bible well—to “listen” attentively to what the Bible says. Remember, the growth is guaranteed.
It is never too late to begin. “May my cry come before you, Lord; give me understanding according to Your Word” (v. 169). Please get in touch if you need any help in getting started.
1 NIV Zondervan Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015). 2631.
2 Special thanks to Sumer Verna @luminousdeep for allowing me to share his glorious pic of “Rajan the swimming elephant.” His story can be found here.