Christians buy Bibles! About 25 million Bibles are sold in the United States annually. It is hard to come up with an exact figure but Guinness Book of Records estimates that since the advent of printing, about 5 billion (yes, billion) Bibles have been circulated. The average Christian household has about 5 different Bibles available. Smartphones have brought us an explosion of Bible apps, the most often installed one being YouVersion™ which is free and offering access to more than 2 dozen translations of the Scripture to readers.
So, what does that mean? Apparently not as much as we would think. We buy them but, increasingly, we do not read them. Most Christians desire spiritual nourishment from the Word, but not directly. They prefer to receive their Scripture in blogs like this one, from sermons, and in books. A majority of Christians remain largely ignorant of Scripture passages that are outside of the tried and true passages like Psalm 23, John 3:16, Jeremiah 29:13, etc. Before you look away thinking that Jerry is a cranky old man intent on ‘guilting’ you, please read on.
The Scripture is the primary way we come to know Who God Is, How God works, and What God purposes for us. It is not just informing, it is transforming! Remember this passage? “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:9-11, NIV) It is healing! As I have shared before, for months after Bev’s death, sleep came as the Psalms played on my IPad™ feeling my head and heart with assurance of God’s love.
Do you read and know Scripture? I am forever grateful for the teaching of the Word that came to me first through the efforts of my parents. They took me to Sunday School and church and read the Bible in our home. My understanding of the world around me was formed through the stories of Joseph, Samuel, David, Jesus, and Paul. As a result of the constant exposure to the Scripture, I learned to interpret the events of life and the world around me through the filter of the Word. Let me be clear. I am not one of those who has a verse for every moment, who will not think and process. Truth is not simple, answers are not always easy to find. Finding the way to bring the eternal wisdom of God to bear on the challenges of life is often an act of faith and requires discipline of mind and spirit. Then, too, I know that times come when my rebel heart wants to throw off His reins and run head-long after my own way! Yet, be the day bright with joyful hope or dark with trials and sorrows, I hold tightly to what God has said in His Word.
Jesus says that the Word of God is like seed. “What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.” (Matthew 13:3-9, The Message) His friends came to Him later on and asked Him, “Why do you tell these stories? What does a story about a farmer planting seeds have to do with us?” And He explained, “Study this story of the farmer planting seed. When anyone hears news of the kingdom and doesn’t take it in, it just remains on the surface, and so the Evil One comes along and plucks it right out of that person’s heart. This is the seed the farmer scatters on the road. “The seed cast in the gravel—this is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm. But there is no soil of character, and so when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it. “The seed cast in the weeds is the person who hears the kingdom news, but weeds of worry and illusions about getting more and wanting everything under the sun strangle what was heard, and nothing comes of it. “The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the News, and then produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.” (Matthew 13:18-23, The Message)
Are you letting the seed of Truth be planted in you by regular reading of the Word?
Do you pick up your Bible (or open the app) and soak in a Psalm, process a chapter from the Gospels, or take challenge from a New Testament letter?
Be like Jeremiah who exclaimed: “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty.” (Jeremiah 15:16, NIV)
Let’s not buy Bibles to decorate our coffee tables or to keep around like a lucky rabbit’s foot. A Bible is just a book, not a religious icon. The words in the Book are His Word and when we read, study, and understand with the Spirit’s guidance, we grow strong in faith, deep in conviction, and steady in assurance.
Here is a seed. Plant it and let it grow. “But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17, NLT)
Abba, help me to love You with my mind as well as my heart.
Keep me from slipping into a kind of sentimental faith.
Make my mind alive to Your Truth.
Give me a readily receptive attitude that desires to know and to do
what the Holy Scripture teaches me to do.
May the transforming power of the Bible cause my life to
Become ever brighter with Your wonderful, holy Presence.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.