I have a confession to make. It’s embarrassing and humbling, but I’m willing to make it publicly: I’m not always excited about reading and studying the Bible.
I know we’ve spent nearly every Wednesday this year examining the doctrine of Scripture, its beauty, and its benefits. But I’m just being honest. I go through periods of what I would call spiritual boredom when the “old, old story” isn’t very exciting to me.
On my worst days, reading God’s word feels burdensome to me, and my heart is motivated more by duty than a worshipful joy. Can you relate?
When I hit these periods, there are three things I require myself to remember:
1. I remember God’s grace
One of my favorite passages in all of Scripture is Isaiah 55. This chapter gives us visual picture after visual picture of God’s amazing grace, and specifically, what the Bible can do in us and for us.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.’ (vv. 10-11, ESV)
You’ll never find joy in Bible study until you understand that reading God’s word is not first a call to duty but an invitation to receive a wonderful gift.
2. I remember Jesus
Reading God’s word is much more than reading dusty, abstract theology, becoming familiar with ancient religious stories, or getting principles for daily living. You’ll never have joy in your Bible study unless you understand that it’s God’s invitation for you to commune with his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (see John 5:39).
Open your Bible and what do you encounter? Not a thing, but a Person, and his name is Jesus. Reading and meditating on your Bible is God’s means of welcoming you into daily fellowship with your Brother, Friend, Savior, and King—Jesus.
3. I remember my forgetfulness
I’m so prone to forget God, forget his grace, forget my identity as his child, forget that he supplies all that I need, forget his unstoppable sovereign plan, and forget his eternal kingdom. So I need to be reminded every day of God’s awesome glory, his gracious presence in my life, and my unique identity as his child. His word was given so that day after day, I would remember.
So, tomorrow, when you don’t feel like opening your Bible, remember God’s grace, remember your friend and brother, Jesus, and remember how quickly you forget.
Pick up God’s word not with the burden of guilt or as a call to duty, but because it’s a gift given to you by a God of amazingly tender mercy and grace.
Two weeks ago I concluded with a lengthy Charles Spurgeon excerpt on the purpose of Scripture, and I would like to do the same again today.
“Great peace have they which love thy Law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165).
“Yes, a true love for the great Book will bring us great peace from the great God and be a great protection to us. Let us live constantly in the society of the law of the Lord, and it will breed in our hearts a restfulness such as nothing else can. The Holy Spirit acts as a Comforter through the Word and sheds abroad those benign influences which calm the tempests of the soul.
Nothing is a stumbling block to the man who has the Word of God dwelling in him richly. He takes up his daily cross, and it becomes a delight. For the fiery trial he is prepared and counts it not strange, so as to be utterly cast down by it. He is neither stumbled by prosperity—as so many are—nor crushed by adversity—as others have been—for he lives beyond the changing circumstances of external life. When his Lord puts before him some great mystery of the faith which makes others cry, “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” the believer accepts it without question; for his intellectual difficulties are overcome by his reverent awe of the law of the Lord, which is to him the supreme authority to which he joyfully bows. Lord, work in us this love, this peace, this rest, this day.” 1
Paul David Tripp
1 Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Faith’s Checklist, April 9 reading, Spurgeon Archive, archive.spurgeon.org/fcb/fcb-bod.htm
1. In your spiritual life, what would you be most embarrassed to admit? Why would you not want anyone else to discover this about you? How are you trying to hide it from others?
2. If Jesus has covered all of your sins on the cross, do you feel that same freedom to confess your sins to others? What might the benefit be of allowing someone else to know of your struggle?
3. How has the word of God already radically transformed your life? If you continue to study it, could there be further radical transformation in your future? How can this motivate you to keep reading?
4. When you don’t read your Bible regularly, do you feel guilty? If so, what do you do with this guilt? On the other hand, if you don’t feel guilty, have you grown hardened to the conviction of the Holy Spirit? What should you do in this case?
5. How does “the great Book” supply you with great peace and protection? Where are you prone to anxiety or fear of the future? How does the Bible comfort this? Where are you at risk of sin? How does the Bible protect you? Be specific.