April 23, 2013

Firsthand Experience | Day 12

Spending Time With God

Scripture to meditate on: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33 ESV)

The following is an excerpt from Firsthand: Ditching Secondhand Religion for a Faith of Your Own by Ryan and Josh Shook.

I (Josh) like to read a one-year Bible, which has a reading plan that takes me through the Bible in a year. But I have found I try so hard to keep up with the required reading that I don’t take time to soak in the truth.

Someone said the Bible was not written to increase our knowledge; it was written to change our lives. Don’t miss Tim Hansel’s powerful statement at the top of this chapter: “It is more important to live one word of Scripture than it is to memorize volumes.” Most of us could probably read the same verse for a year and still not completely integrate its truths into our lives.

I’m not so bothered now when I get behind in my one-year Bible. If I let it change me as I go, I don’t think God cares if it takes me ten years to read through the Bible. He just wants me to encounter Him in such a way that it changes my character.

Maybe someone should put together a ten-year Bible, but I’m afraid no Christian would buy it. We would be too afraid someone might see us buying it and think: Wow. That guy sure isn’t very spiritual. He’s buying a ten-year Bible. The way some Christians talk about their relationship with Christ, you’d think they’d just finished the one-week Bible!

The point I’m trying to make is that, even though reading and studying God’s Word are essential for growing your firsthand relationship with Him, you shouldn’t let the Bible become just another item on your to-do list. When you love someone, you want to spend time with her. You want to read his love letters. The reason we should develop a daily discipline of reading God’s love letter is to get close to Him—not to show Him we won the competition.

It’s so much more important to develop the life discipline of reading God’s Word than it is to read large chunks of the Bible at a time. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or two or three. Remember, you’re not doing it to win God’s blessings and favor (that would be checklist Christianity). God loves you the same whether you spend time with Him or not. He longs for you to spend time with Him because He knows how much you need Him every day. Just ask for His free forgiveness, and get back with Him the next day.