If you reflect on the course of your life, you’ll likely discover that your best influences, whether parents, family, friends, church, books, mentors, were those who ultimately changed you by pointing you back to God’s Word.

My parents did the same for me.

I remember first reading through the Bible in one year at age 7, when my parents provided a $50 incentive if I would do so. Little did I realize at the time how priceless that habit would become.

As a young boy, I memorized chapters with my family. Then, at age 14, I began memorizing and studying the Bible on my own.

Around the turn of this New Year, I set Bible reading, memorization, and study goals for 2019. I’m sure many of you did the same.

As the excitement of a New Year with new goals wears off, we must continually battle distraction, drudgery, and spiritual lethargy.

In this post, I’ll share 5 practical tips to help you revolutionize your Bible reading this year. May these truths both challenge and equip you to emerge from 2019 a more victorious Christian.

1. Discover the Purpose of Bible Reading

Understanding why enables the disciple to persist when the going gets tough. Continually, the Christian opens the Bible to know God, to reflect His image and glory, and to do His will. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3).

As the earth revolves around the Sun, so should our lives orbit round the Son of God, who is the reason and divine energy for life. His Word reveals His character, salvation, and plan for our lives. The Bible is the “more sure Word of prophecy” (II Peter 1:19) giving us “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (II Peter 1:3).

In truth, the Bible is more than pages and text, it is a relationship. The critic may pick apart God’s Word for decades, but will never truly understand the Word of God till he meets the God of the Word.

2. Read in Delight, Not Simply Duty

Truth is, you will not always feel like opening your Bible each morning. Yet you must read, because God’s Word is your spiritual food (Matthew 4:4).

The more you read God’s Word, the more you should desire to say with David, “How sweet are they words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103). “Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; year, above fine gold (Psalm 119:127).

Delight causes you to treasure God’s Word far above all other books, pleasures, and pursuits. In the end, those who approach God’s Word with sheer joy and gratitude will glean the most from its pages.

3. Acknowledge Your Helplessness Apart From God’s Word

Without the Word of God, we would be left to grope in the dark, devoid of an objective standard for life. God’s Word “is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).

You must have God’s Word, for if it does not direct your life, then emotions or the whims of popular culture will.

Hebrews 4:12 declares, “For the Word of God is quick [living] and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

4. Unlock the Blessings of Meditation

The richest spiritual blessings come to those who fully soak up the Word of God through meditation. “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth He meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (Psalm 1:2-3).

To meditate means “to mull on” or to “ponder by talking to oneself.” As a cow repeatedly chews her cud, so we should extract maximum spiritual nutrition from every verse.

It’s not enough to read scripture each morning; you must ponder it throughout the day.

5. Persist in Commitment

Today’s culture rewards instant gratification. Xbox, McDonalds, Netflix, microwaves, and Amazon Prime all scream “now is best!”

Placing a finger on the pulse of today’s generation, Richard Taylor aptly observed, “Discipline is what moderns need the most and want the least.”

Unlike fast-food, the meat of God’s Word cannot be microwaved. Like any relationship, your walk with God requires time, care, and persistence.

As you commit to Bible reading in 2019, you probably won’t see demonstrable improvement from today to yesterday. However, if you daily delight in God’s Word, you can reflect in one year or ten years from now and discover how much God has transformed you through His Word.

QUESTION: Why do you read God’s Word? How will you delight in God’s Word more this year than last year?

Categories: Bible

9 Comments

Ann · January 8, 2019 at 3:10 pm

I read the bible because it grounds me in my faith, by having a daily commitment I retain my focus and the combination brings me peace.

This year, I have the privilege of using my reading as part of guiding my children – helping them set good habits by setting the right example. We started this after they came to us, but the start of a new year is a great time to start afresh.

(the opening of John’s Gospel is one of my favourite quotes, John 1: 1-5 was the first scripture I ever memorized).

    Joshua Bontrager · January 11, 2019 at 8:57 am

    Ann,

    Great reasons for reading God’s Word. How can we expect to God’s Word to be the foundation for our lives if we don’t read it?

    One of the most beneficial habits my parents instilled within my siblings and I was the daily Bible reading habit. How are you practically striving to instill a Bible reading habit within your children?

      Ann · January 11, 2019 at 12:41 pm

      Hi Joshua,

      With my youngest, we read the Bible to him every day (my husband and I alternate days) and listen to him read stories from his children’s bible.
      My middle two are incredibly curious and very responsive to my or their dad’s interest in their views, so one of us will introduce a topic and tell them where it’s discussed in the Bible. They’ll go and read, then we talk more after dinner – about what the Bible says and how we put those teachings into practice each day. They also thrive on the trust aspect of personal responsibility, so being ‘trusted’ to read without a parent looking over their shoulder is a huge thing for them (and being trusted to ask for help if they’re struggling with words etc).
      My eldest I don’t have to encourage anymore, just direct. He negotiated an extra 15 minutes before bedtime back in October, we agreed as long as it didn’t have a negative impact. He uses that time for Bible reading and likes to talk over breakfast. My eldest is also the one who is looking to take his next steps within the church, which is astounding given how resistant he used to be to anything faith related.
      Helping them find the best time of day for personal reading has been a good thing as well; just because 6 am works best for me, didn’t mean that morning reading was best for my children.

Anonymous · January 8, 2019 at 5:03 pm

Hey, Josh, Cassidy and Wallace,
Thanks for the great tips on reading the Bible.. They are wonderful and practical reminders.
I’m praying for you daily. Please give Wallace extra hugs from us…
Love to all the family as you sing and share with many,
Manee and Dandee

    Joshua Bontrager · January 11, 2019 at 8:54 am

    Manee and Dandee,

    Glad you found the post helpful! We certainly will do that!

Joanelle · January 8, 2019 at 10:37 pm

Reading this really encouraged me. Thanks for sharing!

    Joshua Bontrager · January 8, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    My pleasure!

Rachel · January 10, 2019 at 11:17 am

Joshua,
Thanks for the reminder to keep God’s Word a top priority! What do you feel are some ways your parents helped you to fall in love with the Bible? You mentioned that they gave you an incentive to read the Bible in one year. I would love to hear of any other things they did to help you love the Bible. I have 7 children and this is something that I feel I need to work on improving in our home.

    Joshua Bontrager · January 11, 2019 at 8:52 am

    Rachel,

    I’m deeply grateful to my parents for instilling in me a love for God’s Word. Here are few tips from their example:

    (1) They showed us what it meant to love God’s Word. I can still see my Dad reading his Bible in the office, or my Mother reading hers on the couch in the living room. They wanted God’s Word to be important to us because it was important to them.

    (2) They put us to bed early. For my younger years, I often went to bed between 7:30 and 8:30. When we were younger, my parents set specific bedtimes for each of us that only fluctuated if we had company over, were gone, or were celebrating a special occasion. Getting to bed early allowed them to structure in our Bible reading early in the morning.

    (3) They set a time of day for us to read. When we started, most of us children would meet together around 6am in the living room and read God’s Word on our own. At the beginning, I read the Bible for about 20 minutes, and then had a few minutes of prayer time.

    (4) They paid us $50 for our first time through the Bible in one year.

    (5) They saw to it that we loved God’s Word. At the beginning, I didn’t realize how important Bible reading was, but the more I’ve read God’s Word, the more I’ve discovered how essential it is to the Christian life. Don’t feel like you have to wait to start your children on Bible reading plans until they grasp the value of scripture. They can only discover how valuable it is when they dive into it themselves.

    Thanks to my parents, reading God’s Word every morning has become as routine to me as eating breakfast. The more I’ve read God’s Word, the more I’ve come to cherish it for myself.

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