Holding to Truth

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5 Steps to Vitalize Your Bible Reading in the New Year

5 steps to refresh your Bible reading in the new year

Bible reading should be more than picking up Scriptural knowledge. It has to bring us in touch with God Himself in His Word.

So at the beginning of this new year it’s essential that we renew our vision of how to come to God’s word. This will enable us to have a vital contact with Him through our daily Bible reading.

The God-seeking psalmists in Psalm 119 are a real pattern to us of how to come to the Bible. They show us how we can be infused with a fresh love for God in His word and how we can enjoy His word to the uttermost.  By following their pattern, we can experience more of the positive functions and blessings from God’s word.


Before we look at Psalm 119, let’s consider four questions:

First, “What are you seeking in your Bible reading?”

If your answer was not a “Who,” then the first step is to adjust your view from things to a Person—the wonderful, living Person, Christ.

The Lord Jesus told His Jewish audience that the Scriptures testified concerning Him (John 5:39). Their problem was that they were searching the Scriptures, but were not willing to come to the Lord Jesus that they might have life (v. 40).

Blessed are those who keep His testimonies

So it’s important to see that Christ is the reality of God’s word, even of the Old Testament law.

Paul indicated that all the Old Testament ordinances were just a shadow of Christ. He is the “body” of all those shadows (Col. 2:14-17). He is God’s living testimony. In the same way the psalmists in Psalm 119 spoke of the law as God’s “testimonies” 22 times (Psalm 119:2). They were not just laws to regulate us, but God’s testimonies to reveal God to us.

For example, the kind of laws a person makes “testify” of the kind of person they are. In the same way, Christ Himself is a living portrait of what God is, and the Scriptures testify concerning Him (John 5:39, Luke 24:47).

The key to getting life from your Bible reading is to not separate your contact with the Bible, God’s written word, from your contact with Christ, God’s Living Word (1 John 1:1). So start your Bible reading by calling on the Lord Jesus, and turning your heart to Him through short prayers for fellowship.

Second, “Have you prepared your heart to meet the Lord in His Word?” 

Paul, referring to the unbelieving Jews, said that a veil lies on their heart whenever they read the Scriptures. But, whenever their heart turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away (2 Cor. 3:15-16). The condition of our heart makes a big difference when we come to the Bible. If our heart is wrong, we can read the words but receive very little from our reading.

So we need to prepare our heart by dealing with seven conditions:

1) No exercise of heart for the Word

2) A divided heart—a heart loving other things

3) A lack of heart

4) A heart with hindrances, like unconfessed sins, or unforgiven offenses

5) A heart not consecrated or willing to be subdued by the Lord

6) A heart not humbled before Him

7) Then we should exercise our whole heart , even our whole being to contact the Word.

We need to use our eyes to read the Word, our mouth to speak it, pray it, and sing it. We also need to use our mind to understand it, our emotion to love it, and our will to take the way of God’s word. Finally, we need to exercise our spirit to contact its spiritual essence. This is the kind of exercise we need to vitalize our Bible reading.

When we deal with our heart through prayer and exercise it properly, turning it to the Lord, the veil is removed from our heart and we can contact the Lord on every page of the Bible.

Third, “How are you contacting the Word—in the letter or the Spirit?” 

There are two aspects of the Word—the letter and the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:6). If we contact the Word only in the letter, we will come away with little from our Bible reading. But, if we go beyond the letter, as the God-seeking psalmists did and contact the Spirit as the essence of God’s Word, we’ll get life from our reading—even from reading the Old Testament law.

Since the blessings that God has given us in Christ are spiritual in nature, we need to contact His Word by touching the Spirit in order to receive the spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3) contained in it. So if we come to the Bible—as the Word breathed out by the God whom we love, we’ll touch the life-giving Spirit in the word and be enlivened and supplied by our reading (John 6:63).

The best way I’ve found to touch the Spirit in the Word is to pray-read a few Bible verses each day. Here is a post to help you practice this.

Fourth, ask yourself “What kind of Bible-reader will you be this year—a letter-keeper or a God-seeker?” 

Whenever we come to the Bible we can be one of two kinds of Bible readers—a “letter-keeper” or a “God-seeker.” A “letter-keeper” is one like the Jewish religionists, who tries to be blameless according to the letter of the law and to fulfill it by their own efforts (2 Cor. 3:6).

On the other hand, a “God-seeker” is one like the psalmists in Psalm 119 and the apostle Paul (1 Tim. 4:6). Such ones seek God, love His name, entreat His face, walk in His presence, consider His word sweeter than honey to nourish them and as a shining lamp to enlighten them. Such God-seekers realize that the living God can be touched in every chapter and verse of the Bible and pursue after Him with every part of their being.

Which kind of Bible reader will you be this year? After comparing the two choices, I hope you’ll join me in choosing to be a loving God-seeker.

Fifth, follow the pattern of the psalmists in Psalm 119 to practice a proper attitude in contacting God’s living Word:

A. Choose God’s word (Psa. 119:173). Choose to read it every day. Build up the habit.
B. Believe God’s word (v. 66). To believe is to receive it. Receive God’s word as your food.
C. Lift up our hands to it. That is, receive it warmly, saying Amen to it (v. 48; Neh. 8:5-6).
D. Love God’s word (Psa. 119:97).
E. Delight in it (v. 24)
F. Taste God’s word (v. 103; cf. 1 Pet. 2:2-3).
G. Rejoice in God’s word (v. 162).
H. Sing God’s word (v. 54; Col. 3:16).
I.   Regard God’s word (v. 117).
J.  Have a perfect heart in it (v. 80). Let God’s Word adjust your heart.
K.  Incline your heart to it (v. 36).
L.  Seek it, long for it, and hope in it with prayer (vv. 45, 40, 147). Pray-read it.
M . Trust in it (v. 42). Stand on God’s Word, declaring it to be so.
N.  Muse on it (v. 15). Bring it up in your heart again and again.
O.  Consider it (v. 95b)…again and again.
P.  Esteem it to be right (v. 128a).
Q.  Learn it (v. 73).
R.  Treasure it (v. 72). Value it highly.
S.  Treasure up God’s word in your heart (v. 11). Build up a rich store of God’s word.
T.  Remember it and do not forget it (v. 52). Let it fill your thoughts.
U.  Stand in awe of it (v. 161).
V.  Cling to it (v. 31).
W. Do not forsake it (v. 87).
X.  Turn your feet toward it (v. 59).
Y.  Keep, observe and do it (v. 69).
Z.  Walk in it and run the way of it (vv.1, 32a).

Take a moment to pray,

“Lord Jesus, I love You and I love Your word. Lord, make my Bible reading this year, my coming to You. Lord, deal with all the hindrances in me that keep me from touching You in Your word. Bring me beyond the letter to touch the Spirit of the Scriptures with my spirit. Lord fill me with the attitude of your loving seekers and establish my footsteps in Your word.”

If you’ve been helped to have your Bible reading vitalized, I hope you’d go to the Holding to Truth Facebook page or Google+ page and share the benefit you received.

References and Further Resources:

About Tom Smith

Hi. My name is Tom Smith. I'm the writer behind Holding to Truth in Love, and I love the Lord Jesus and His life-giving Word. Please feel free to send me an e-mail through the contact page if you have any questions. I hope you'd take a moment to subscribe to the Holding to Truth blog. Then you'll be sure not to miss a post. Thanks!

4 Replies

  1. Joel

    Amen Lord, make us Your loving seekers to love the person who is the word. Keep unveiling us to see You more and more. Open up our spiritual eyes to see You even as You are. Keep us eating Your word through pray reading Your word with our mingled spirit. Make us sufficient ministers of Your word, ministering You to others through Yourself as installed faith. Cause us to love You, praise You , & seek You more than the psalmists.

    1. Tom Smith

      Joel,

      How much we gain from God’s Word depends on how we come to it. If we take it just in the letter, we’ll receive only the letter which kills (2 Cor. 3:6). However, if we like, like the psalmist, treasure God’s Word, coming with the attitude to contact God, we’ll get life from our reading. May we always match our coming to the Bible with our coming to the Lord (John 5:39-40). Thanks for the comment.

  2. velisa

    amen, Lord… bring me beyond the letter to touch the Spirit of the Scriptures with my spirit. Lord fill me with the attitude of your loving seekers and establish my footsteps in Your word.

    1. Tom Smith

      Amen. May the Lord re-calibrate our heart in coming to His word such that we do not do it merely out of duty, but out of genuine heart to seek Him “beyond the printed page.” This is to go beyond the letter to touch the Spirit of the Scriptures as you stressed. Yes, may the Lord fill us with the attitude of God’s loving seekers such that His word enlivens and enlightens us and is continually sweet to our taste. Such a heart with such a practice, will cause us to long for His word not merely to read it out of duty. Thanks so much for your encouraging comment.

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