If you read one thing this year…

I’ve written before about my [relatively new] reading strategy, and as is usual for January, I’m charging ahead with guns blazing because there are no gardens to distract me.

But what has gone without saying, but actually needs to be said, is that the first (and often last) reading I do each day is the most important, the most life-changing, and non-negotiable. I’m talking, of course, about the Bible.

I’m writing this because I have been recently prompted by the Holy Spirit to start taking in the Word as quickly as I can, and I want to say it is so good. I’m writing this because I see and hear a generation completely divorced from a godly anchor trying to piece together a scaffold of truth based on experience and feeling. I’m writing this because we make excuses — we all do — but it’s all just silly when compared to necessity of knowing and walking according to His Word.

The Word of God is for all seasons. I don’t just mean that its truth endures to all generations — which it does. I mean it’s for your seasons. I’ve done read-through-the-Bible plans in high school. I’ve spent months poring over the Psalms. I’ve spent months with the same 3×5 card in my back pocket, a snippet of Scripture scribbled on it and committed to not just memory, but meditation. I’ve washed dishes with a card taped to the window in front of me. I’ve taken forever to just get through the New Testament with a new baby and toddlers but giving up wasn’t an option. I’ve studied one word or topic for weeks, mining for meaning and truth to stand on. I’ve read in quiet and I’ve read amidst chaos. I’ve read my trusty, falling-apart NASB, and I’ve read every modern translation and paraphrase. I’ve quoted the same two passages of scripture every single morning for months and months. Taking in the Word of God may look different from season to season, but take it in.

It is daily bread. Have you read through the whole Bible — ten years ago? Did you memorize entire books — 15 years ago? Do you know that scripture because you heard it once — somewhere in some sermon? Yes, we build upon those things, but we don’t stop there. The Word is meant to feed us, shape us, transform us. That happens day by day, as we yield our souls and circumstances to its scrutiny, allowing it to the standard by which we live.

You need to know the Word to live by the Word. This seems so basic, but as we were memorizing Psalm 119:105 last week (Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.), I pointed out that that verse challenges us to a heart posture toward the Word, but it also leaves an obvious implication: we need to know the Word. We are bombarded by ideas and worldviews (and much of that we invite via our phone, only to then make excuses about how we don’t have time to read the Bible), but are we equipped to “[cast] down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”? We make decisions all day long about our actions, words, feelings, thoughts, and use of time. Is His Word really the lamp that illuminates those paths?

You don’t need to be a scholar. I bet you won’t understand everything you come across in scripture. Some of it will leave you with questions, and some of it will just leave you not even sure you were reading in English. Sometimes you’ll read something that just plain old rubs you the wrong way. Don’t stop reading. As I read recently, “Even if you don’t know what to do with the Word, the Word knows what to do with you.” Remember, it’s living and powerful. It will not return void. It is life-giving seed.

Here’s a challenge I embraced last summer that absolutely blew me away: Set a time for ten minutes. Morning, noon, evening — whatever is your jam. For those ten minutes, read. Don’t check your notifications. Don’t wonder how hot it will be today. Don’t jot down to-dos. Don’t add to your instacart order. Just read for ten minutes. (If you’re like me, you will suddenly realize that you severely lack discipline. WOW.) In one month, you will be astounded by how much scripture you have consumed! It’s very fun and very motivating.

Another challenge: next time you’re wanting to learn about something, don’t buy a book on it. Do a Bible study on it! There is every tool you could possibly need, available for free on the ol’ internet. Not sure how to start or what to do? I’d be happy to help get you started. I’m no expert, but that’s the point: you don’t have to be!

Last: some scripture, which puts excitement in my soul and conviction in my heart. We need to know the Word.

Thus says the Lord:
“Heaven is My throne,
And earth is My footstool.
Where is the house that you will build Me?
And where is the place of My rest?
For all those things My hand has made,
And all those things exist,”
Says the Lord.
“But on this one will I look:
On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
And who trembles at My word. (Isaiah 66)

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path. (Psalm 119)

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward. (Psalm 19)

Your words were found, and I ate them,
And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart;
For I am called by Your name,
O Lord God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15)

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (James 1)

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3)

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1)

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