“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” -Joshua 1:8 NIV
One of the most alarming and growing concerns in the United States is the reality of “Biblical Illiteracy.” As a culture, less and less people are familiar at all with what the bible teaches or the stories of the bible.
However, what is even more concerning, is the lack of “Bible Engagement” in the church among God’s People. The numbers continue to slide and point to a rather pitiful reality that God’s people are not reading, let alone engaging in, or applying God’s Word to their lives.
Before God led the Israelite’s into the promised land, a land that was hostile and unfamiliar, he gave Joshua a little “pep talk.” In that “pep talk” he gave Joshua the key to being truly successful in what he was being called to do. That key was remaining in God’s Word and being sure to put it into practice.
Before Jesus would send his disciples out with the Gospel message, he gave them this promise in regard to their prayer life and bearing fruit in service to him: If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:7-8).
God’s Word is central to our effectiveness as his witnesses and ambassadors in this world.
The other day, I finished a book by Ed Stetzer called “Christians in the Age of Outrage.” In that book, he wrote the following that statistically proves this very word Jesus spoke to his disciples:
“After 10 years of research, LifeWay states two things about maturity:
1. Bible engagement is the #1 spiritual discipline for growth.
2. Bible engagement affects every other discipline. People who engage the Bible give more, go more, & evangelize more.
Read the Bible this year!”
As we head into 2019, I encourage you to prioritize spending time in the Bible. Commit to even just 15 minutes a day. Find a daily reading plan. Challenge a friend to join you to help encourage and hold each other accountable. At the same tine, don’t beat yourself up or quit in despair if you miss a day. But recognize that spending time in God’s Word and ensuring God’s Word is in us, is the key to spiritual effectiveness, service and witness.
Also, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you already know the bible or stories. Information is different than application. God’s word is to be read, mediated on, and applied to our lives. Additionally, the bible is unlike any other book in the world. Being that it’s God’s Word, it has an endless depth to it that we can never exhaust. God is always revealing more of himself and new insights in different seasons of our lives and situations we find ourselves in.
Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and heart anew and afresh as you engage in his Word. Ask him to give you a love for his word. Ask him to help you not take it for granted, for there are still over 1 billion in the world who don’t have access to the bible in any way, shape or form…
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. -Psalm 119:105