Why Should I Read the Bible?
“When the church isn’t for the suffering and the broken, then the church isn’t for Christ.” Ann Voskamp writes in her book, The Broken Way. She goes on to say, “Because Jesus, with His pierced side, is always on the side of the broken. Jesus always moves into places moved with grief. Jesus always seeks out where the suffering is, and that’s where Jesus stays. The wound in His side proves that Jesus is always on the side of the suffering, the wounded, the busted, the broken.”
“What do I do with this one broken heart?” Ann asks. I find this question often pops up in my mind as I become more aware of fragmented hearts of one kind or another all around me. Some are broken over death of a loved one, where extreme sorrow just wreaks them. In separation or divorce there is generally great anger, but under the rage, another pained heart lies cracked open. It is sometimes more difficult to identify what is behind the walls of silence. There too, I believe, is a brokenness that screams louder than words. When we slow down enough to listen, we will hear each of these saying, "Please see me! Help me!"
I recently shared with a friend that while I had confessed Jesus as Lord years ago, I hadn’t yet moved past the shame. She graciously pointed out to me that it seems that people either get stuck in shame or stuck in pride.
Can you identify where you might be stuck in your own life?
Reflecting on this thought, I will add that “stuckness” in either pride or shame, doesn't just hurt us, it impacts our relationships as well. In both, our actions are controlled by fear and we remain trapped. Our relationships with others are ineffective because we aren’t quite seeing things as they truly are. We often become either reactive or secretive in response to scenarios where demonstrating love would make all the difference in the outcome. It seems I digress, yet it all goes back to the fact that Jesus seeks out the wounded, but he does not want us to stay wounded. He died so that we can be raised to new life with Him and in that new life point to the glory of God so that others can also be transformed. In this transformation, there is freedom. Freedom not from the hurt, but freedom from shame or pride, or whatever it is that holds you back from living the life that God designed for you. The life referred to in Jeremiah 29:11, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
How do we then transition from trapped to free? I am not a counselor, therapist or licensed in any way, so I can only share my experience. The first step for me was knowing that Jesus didn’t want me to continue to be ashamed of my past or to reprimand myself for mistakes I make today. I am learning to admit where I have been wrong and move on. I am learning this as I immerse myself in my Bible. I realize this may sound cliché. I suspect that if you have spent any time in church, you have heard this admonition often. Admittedly, there are times when I have picked up my Bible to read and get lost in the words on the page. If we don’t understand the reason for reading, then it is just and empty use of time. It becomes another box on our mental task list of things we need to do to be good. When we approach the Bible in this manner, the purpose for spending our time in the Word is quickly lost and nothing is gained. We need to know why is it important to read our Bible, in order to be fruitful in it.
· We read to understand God.
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:33-34 (also see, Deuteronomy 8:3, Jeremiah 9:23-34, John 8:31-32 and Romans 15:4)
· We read to understand ourselves.
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 (also see, Lamentations 3:40, Romans 12:3 and 1 Corinthians 13:5)
· We read to be in relationship with God
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3 (also see, John 5:39-40, Romans 10:17 and Romans 12:2)
There are other reasons to read the Bible, but these are the three I focus on and it is my hope that these reasons will be motivation enough for you.
I have found that it is your Bible reading time is better when you develop a routine. Spending the first hour of my day with my Bible and God is my favorite time of the day and if I ever miss it, I feel it. In their teen years, my kids could tell when I had skipped this precious time. I delight in Bible journaling and find the Bible study time is enriched by this exercise. I am giving you the steps I follow, but please adjust for what works best for you.
Pray for whatever is on your heart, but include that you will be able to understand what you read and discern God’s message to you for that day.
Read the passage you are focusing on for that day. I generally choose 2-3 verses.
Record the verses you read. (I will tell you, I didn’t want to do this at first but decided to give it a try. Not only does it help with retention, it helps when you later go back and read what you have previously journaled, giving context.)
Research for some commentaries on the verses. If you do not have a study Bible, there are several Bible study apps online. I frequently use https://www.biblestudytools.com/.
Write your response to what you have read, what you feel God is telling you through His Word.
Say or write a prayer that takes what you have read and applies it to your life. What do you sense may need to be changed in your life because of what you have read?
Review what you wrote in the morning at the end of the day. What did you notice may have been different because of what you read that morning?
Pray once more keeping in mind what you have learned or been reminded of. What may still need to be remembered into the days ahead?
Let me encourage you to try this process for one week. For me, it made a huge difference in my understanding of myself, of God and of our relationship with each other. I have been more aware of His presence as I go throughout my day. Remember, when you feel shame, or pride, creeping its way back into your mind; “This is how we know that we belong in the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence: If our hearts condemns us; we know that God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God.” 1 John 3:19-21
We are not counselors, just Christian women seeking to help others who have been hurt or are wanting fellowship as they raise their children. For deeper work, there are helpful books to read, counselors who will often use a sliding scale for billing and women’s fellowship and study groups. You can also e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Below are some resources and events in the Pasadena, CA area that you might find helpful.
Fuller Psychological and Family Services
This division of Fuller School of Psychology is staffed by a variety of supervised therapists has a sliding fee scale and are doing currently doing telehealth, due to COVID 19 restrictions. Their number is (626) 584-5555.
Women's Discussion Groups
Women’s Wednesday Night
Life Giving Stories
April 14 -May 26, 2021, Wednesdays at 6:30 pm via Zoom Register at https://www.paznaz.org/womens-ministries/
Women in the Word
Gideon as taught by Priscilla Shirer
April 6-May 11, 2021, Tuesdays at 9:30 am via Zoom Register at https://www.paznaz.org/womens-ministries/
Women’s Hybrid Retreat
Living Loved: Embracing the Fullness of God
July 16-17, 2021
Key Note Speaker: Jennifer Barnes Maggio
Details to follow, registration opens Mother’s Day
Recommended Reading List
The Broken Way: a daring path into the abundant life
Peace and the Single Mom
Jennifer Barnes Maggio
Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out and Lonely
This list is growing, feel free to contact us with your own recommedations.