I get religion.
It’s always been a part of my life.
I grew up in church, attended parochial schools, became a church organist in high school, a parochial teacher after college, and I married a minister.
Like a piece of modeling clay, I was poked here and pinched there until I was shaped into what I call a “good little church girl.”
I’ve attended more Bible Studies and church services than I can count.
Some might say, I have been indoctrinated even “brainwashed.
And there was a time in my life when they would have been right. You see, everything I knew about my faith … I’d learned from other people.
Oh sure, I read and memorized the required parts of the Bible when I was in school and studied the verses that were listed in every Bible Study I’ve attended but through most of my life … I allowed other people to teach me their understanding of what the Bible taught and that greatly influenced what I believed.
Now please don’t misunderstand, I believed in Jesus as my Savior! This post is not about questioning whether or not I had faith.
It is about…
What I was missing in my life because I was sitting at the feet of people rather than sitting at the feet of Jesus.
So, I want to tell you why I believe reading and studying the Bible is so important. Not just reading what people say about the Bible. Not just attending topical Bible Studies. Not just listening to sermons and “messages.”
But actually sitting down to read the Bible and letting God speak through His Word.
In response to some of the comments I received at – You Need to Answer the Most Important Question about Jesus … I want to answer a few questions.
- What initiated my love for the Bible.
- Why I trust the Bible.
- Why I don’t read many books written about the Bible.
And tell you…
How to Read the Bible in a Way that will Change Your Life
1. I love the Bible because…
I fell in love with reading the Word of God almost 15 years ago.
At the time, I was in a pit of despair … so completely broken that it was hard to function. I was having trouble getting out of bed and living my life. I didn’t want to see anyone or do anything.
By God’s grace, I picked up my Bible and a pen and I spent every spare moment reading and taking notes. Not a verse here and there but Genesis through Revelation … Creation through the Promised New Creation.
And as I prayed and asked Him to teach me through His Holy Spirit, God spoke to my broken heart…
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,Psalm 40:2
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
Ever so slowly with each turn of the page, the Spirit filled me with hope, peace, and even joy. He showed me that even when others reject and forsake me … God never will. And I began to fall in love with my Creator and my Savior.
Like reading an amazing autobiography, I identified with the people of God’s Word. I could see myself…
- taking a bite of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil in the Garden.
- depressed like Sarah.
- grumbling like the wilderness wanderers.
- broken like Job.
- running like Jonah.
- hiding and afraid like the disciples.
I’d love to see myself in the heroes of faith … but I identify more with the broken and needy. Because in their accounts, I see God’s constant and unwavering love.
And if He loved them like that, I can trust His love for me.
You see, I don’t see the Bible as a bunch of stories or a list of rules. For me, it is the greatest love letter ever written.
It is a message from God to His creation that He loves them so much He would rather die for them than live without them.
2. I trust the Bible because…
- over a 1500 year span (from 1400 B.C to A.D. 100)
- over 40 generations
- over 40 authors from many walks of life (i.e. – kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, scholars)
- in different places (i.e. – wilderness, dungeon, palaces)
- at different times (i.e. – war, peace)
- in different moods (i.e. – heights of joy, depths of despair)
- on three continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe)
- in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek)
At yet, it contains one message … one truth from Genesis through Revelation.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.John 3:16–17
Throughout history, as artifacts and historical documents have been unearthed and discovered … not one refutes the details of the Bible.
I’ve noticed through commenters online and conversations I’ve had in person … that most arguments against Christianity point to the failures and flaws of the Church – it’s leaders and members.
And you know what?
They’re right! People are messed up! Even people in the church. As much as we want to represent Christ well, we fail.
I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.Romans 7:18b–19
And Paul’s right! But he’s not excusing bad behavior, he’s reminding the people reading his letter why they need Jesus.
A few verses later, he wrote…
What a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.Romans 7:24–25a
For me, the message of the Bible – the truth I want people to trust … is that God’s love made evident in Scripture culminates in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And a life surrendered to Jesus, no matter how broken by sin, will be transformed into a life of love that will live forever.
3. I don’t read many other books about the Bible because…
Although, I used to be an avid reader of books written by Bible teachers.
Lately, I’ve observed that although there are, I’m sure, many books which are Biblically sound … there are also others that contain a culture pleasing bias.
I don’t have the time or the energy to join the arguments about what teachings are Biblical and true and those that aren’t.
I feel God has called me to tell people about His transforming love.
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”John 13:34–35
I want to tell people and, to the best of my imperfect ability, show people the love of Jesus. I want them to know His power to lift them out of the “pit” and place them on a firm foundation built on His love. I want them to enjoy the freedom He gives to live with peace, hope, and joy.
So, I read my Bible and I write and tell my story.
Because I want people to know the One who says … I love you and I want to change your life.
I’m often asked about my preferred Bible choice.
Rev once asked a theology professor, who was an expert in ancient Greek and Hebrew texts, what translation of the Bible he recommended and his answer…
The one you will read!
My favorite translation is the New Living Translation.
My favorite Bible is the Life Application Bible. (The notes are so helpful!)
The past two years I’ve read it in the Genesis to Revelation – format. Next year I’m reading it Chronologically.
I always have a notebook, pen, and highlighter with me when I read … marking and writing the verses that speak to my heart.
If you’re struggling with any part of life or even if your not … if you’d just like to change your life for the better, let the Holy Spirit speak to you through the pages of the Bible.
You don’t have to spend hours a day. Just start with the time you have. Leave your Bible open on a counter and read a few verses here and there throughout the day. Read a couple of verses from Proverbs in the morning and a Psalm before bed.
If you want to fall in love with the God of the universe and His Son, Jesus, if you want to know the difference His love can make in your life … read the Bible!
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