Romans 10:17 Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
I was around 40 years old when I truly called out to God to save me. I had gone through a terrible time in my life, and I knew that if what I had just gone through was my "fruit", then I did not have things right. The Bible tells us we reap what we sow. I was not reaping good things, so I knew I had not been sowing good things. A worldly lifestyle was bringing me worldly results. I wanted to change that, and to do that, I had to begin to sow good things, so I could reap them.
I was not fooled into believing just crying out to God was going to start the good things rolling. I had to make changes, and I was very willing at this point. I told God, "I am going to start reading the Bible, and I will do whatever I find that you tell me to do." I began to devour my Bible. I kept it with me all the time, and I read it anytime I had a chance to read it. I read whole books of the Bible at a setting, and as I did, it opened up to me and I began to make the changes in my life that I found there in the Bible.
It was not easy, but few things that are truly worthwhile are easy!
That was 20 years ago. I have tried to sow good things over these years, although I am human, and I do slip but I repent and try to make things right, and I am reaping good things I have sown. If you compared my life now to my life back then, it would look very different.
I have, however, had a lot of trouble finding a church I could settle in. The really conservative churches sometimes have a lot of rules that are or at least look good, but are man made rather than Bible, meant to help the members keep on the narrow path. Sometimes those rules are hard to work with, especially when they involve giving up things that are my mission in life. I found church once that we visited a few times that I thought was going to be it, except we had one difference. I thought maybe we could live with it until one of the men told my young daughter that her mother was not only wrong, but doing something the Bible said not to do. Huh?
Sometime the desire to be a member of a church consumes me. And that's where I have been lately. I prayed for hours about it. It was all I could think about. It seemed like I could not "hear" what God wanted me to do and that kept me in a state of desperateness. But then one day, I got a clear message: I was concentrating on the wrong thing. Yes, being a member of a good sound church is a great blessing and certainly something I believe God wants for us. But I was fretting about that to the point of not thinking much about what was going on with the children still in my home, and myself, spiritually.
And mostly, that translated to me: are we reading our Bibles? A lot?
It was the new year, so I found several "get through the Bible in a year" schedules and I showed the older kids who could read well. I explained to them that this was very important, and I wanted us to be accountable to each other for keeping up with our schedules. They all agreed to do it, and picked the one they liked the best. There was a chronological reading, a straight through the Bible reading, and one that had a little bit of each every day, plus a psalm and a proverb.
Luke wasn't quite ready for this, but he wanted to do Bible reading too. He found a Bible that had "words to live by" and he began to read those, writing down the verses as he went. Here is a picture of some of the papers he handed over to me:
I am very proud of him!!
Which brings me to some encouragement I want to give you today:
Many times, when I am talking to other Christian ladies, they tell me they don't even read whole chapters of the Bible. "I just read a couple of verses," they will tell me. "Then I meditate on those all day."
That always makes me very sad.
The Bible is our love letter from God. It is our instructions on how to live a Christian life.
Now suppose the man in your life wrote you a love letter? Would you just read one or two lines of it a day, then put it up so you could just think about those one or two lines? Then the next day, would you pull it out of your drawer and read another couple of lines, and put it up, and continue that over the next year or so, so you could "fully savor what was in the letter"? I don't think so. Likely, you would open it quickly and read every word, maybe two or three times, and read it again many times of the next few days, trying to memorize everything it said.
Or suppose you finally got a long awaited smart phone? Would you just read one or two lines of instructions a day, meditating on those parts, and leave the rest to read small bits at a time over the months to come? Would you understand it better that way?
I doubt it. Taking a small portion at a time makes it easy to take what you read out of context, so that you don't really understand what your instructions, be it Bible or smart phones, are trying to tell you. :)
We can read novels, magazines and newspapers for hours at a time. Why can't we do that with our Bibles, the most important book we will ever read?
Try it. Get a Bible reading schedule and try to get through the whole Bible this year. I have one that will get me through the whole New Testament once a month. I have done that one many times over the last 20 years. Some years, I will read my Chronological Bible in the mornings, and then read the New Testament at night. Because reading the Chronological is really a great way to read, but it means you don't get to the New Testament for months and months, and the NT is our instruction book on how Christians are to live today.
I would love to hear some of your Bible reading schedules. How do you read your Bible each day?
Remember, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. It only seems to reason that the more we read, the more our faith will increase!