Christen Limbaugh Bloom: The secret to a daily Bible discipline is not what you'd expect

It can be difficult to get into a consistent habit of reading scripture daily when what we read doesn’t seem to make sense or speak to us

Renowned theologian Charles Spurgeon once said, “Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.”

One of my best friends and I recently discussed how the Bible continues to amaze us, but how at times, it can be difficult to get into a consistent habit of reading scripture daily, especially when what we read doesn’t seem to make sense or speak to us.

The Apostle Paul knowingly wrote the encouragement to believers “do not grow weary in doing good,”  because “at just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9).

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But how do we carry on pursuing God and discerning His will for our lives when something from His Word--the very source where we are meant to hear from Him--doesn’t make sense or speak to us?

Closeup of an unrecognizable person's hands held over a bible at home during the day

Closeup of an unrecognizable person's hands held over a bible at home during the day

My friend asked me in that same conversation about what prompted me to make this into a daily habit.

One of my pastors, Manny Hastings of C3 NYC Church, beautifully answered this question in a sermon a couple of years ago.

He addressed the problems that arise when Christians constantly expect to have a profound revelation while reading the Bible.

God opened my eyes to the Bible’s multifaceted nature, which gave me a newfound sense of freedom while spending time in His Word.

He explained that, of course, we should seek to understand God’s Word more deeply and pray to receive divine insight while reading it--but he keenly noted that if these experiences are our sole focus, we will inevitably be discouraged at times.

So how can we look at Scripture outside of this context?

Pastor Hastings alluded to Ephesians 5:25-26, where the author explains that Jesus died to make His church Holy by “cleansing them through the word.”

Hastings explained we are called to read the Bible daily not just because its words are inspired by God and can teach us about Him, but because it has a secondary role; it actually cleanses our spirits by connecting us directly with the Father, whether we feel it in the moment or not.

Holy Bible with pressed decorative leather cover on table with soft flickering candlelight

Holy Bible with pressed decorative leather cover on table with soft flickering candlelight

So even if you read the Bible and it doesn’t all “click” in the moment, you can have peace about the fact that the time you are spending is not going to waste.

Hastings drove this point home with a metaphor, saying, “I bet if I asked you what you had for dinner two weeks ago, you wouldn’t be able to remember what you ate--but that doesn’t mean it didn’t keep you nourished that day.”

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In other words, reading the Bible is not solely meant to feed our minds--it’s also meant to feed our hearts. And sometimes, those two things can and will happen separately.

Understanding this can help us acknowledge that the improvement of our faith is not entirely up to us.

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Yes, we each have to make the decision to seek God, but it is He who does all of the real work in our hearts and minds.

God tells us to give more of ourselves and our troubles to Him, little by little--and that includes our worries about whether or not our Bible time is truly having an impact on us.

Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the RENEWING Of your mind.” Notice first, the author does not say, “transform yourself,” he writes “be transformed.”

Our transformation is all about God's work in us and it also doesn’t all happen at once.

iStock

iStock

It should also be noted that the verse does not use the word “renewal,” which would indicate that this is a finite action; it says our transformation comes through the  “renewing,” meaning, we must continually lean on God to be changed from within.

So to answer my friend’s question, that sermon is what utterly shifted my posture toward spending time reading Scripture.

God opened my eyes to the Bible’s multifaceted nature, which gave me a newfound sense of freedom while spending time in His Word.

As a result, my desire to read the Bible increased, and the more I read, the greater my desire has become.

Ironically, I actually have even more of those “aha” moments that I originally sought in the Bible now that they are not my sole focus.

This new focus came about when I shifted from seeking discipline simply for discipline’s sake, putting all the pressure on myself-- and instead became motivated by a sense of faith and expectation about what God could do.

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I now know with full confidence that whether or not I fully comprehend or “feel” something from the words I’m reading in scripture, the fact is, when my Bible is open, God’s presence is with me, and He’s using that time to change my heart and mind, one day at a time.

“All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:3).

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