Psalms 111:1-4 NKJV
1 Praise the LORD!
I will praise the LORD with my whole heart,
In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.
2 The works of the LORD are great,
Studied by all who have pleasure in them.
3 His work is honorable and glorious,
And His righteousness endures forever.
4 He has made His wonderful works to be remembered;
The LORD is gracious and full of compassion.
A few years ago when I was working a sales job, I liked to take my half-hour lunch to read. They eventually put a TV in the company’s break room, but I still spent my time reading. After I came to Christ, that practice didn’t change, but the materials did. One day, one of my fellow workers remarked that I always seemed to be reading the same book. “What are you reading every day?” he asked.
“A really Good Book,” I quipped, winking at him and holding up my Bible so he could see what it was.
“Don’t you get tired of it?”
“Nope. Like I said, it’s a really Good Book.”
A few days later, he saw me reading something by C.S. Lewis, and he said, “Aha! So today you’re reading a different book!”
“No, not really,” I replied. “It’s just a book about the other Book.”
I’m not bragging. It’s just a simple fact that I don’t get tired of reading my Bible. I have only once read it straight through from cover to cover, and that was very early in my walk with Christ, but I have re-read every book and chapter many times over, and I continue to study the Bible daily.
A recent study by Lifeway Research shows that Americans really do believe that the Bible is important and they ought to be reading it, but that same study also shows that only 19% of Protestant churchgoers actually read their Bibles daily. And although 90% of those same respondents felt they wanted to honor Jesus with their lives, far fewer actually read their Bibles even weekly to see just how to do that.
Why don’t people read their Bibles? Some folks I have spoken to indicate that they feel the Bible is too difficult to read, that perhaps they are not smart enough to understand what they read. And perhaps more than a few people might say their schedule doesn’t allow for it. Some folks get bored reading it. (Does the Book of Numbers come to mind? Yes!) Others say they don’t see the relevance for their lives. Well, here’s what Jesus had to say to all of that:
Luke 12:34 NKJV
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
“But we’re not talking about treasure!” you may reply. Oh, but we are, we are.
Look at the verses above from Psalms 111, especially at verse 2. Here’s the old King James version:
Psalms 111:2 KJV
The works of the LORD are great,
sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.
Here’s a question for you: Do you take pleasure in God? Does He delight you, appeal to you? Do you treasure Him? Do you love Him the way you love your spouse, your children, your favorite sports team or TV show? Here, again, are Jesus’ own words:
Matthew 10:37-38 NKJV
“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”
And in case you forgot what comes next…
Matthew 10:38 NKJV
“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”
Jesus never said it would be easy to follow Him. He compared living a life for Him to carrying a cross—a cross of shame, a cross of toil, a cross of persecution, and yet a cross of redemption. And why did Jesus walk that road, live that life?
Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV (my emphasis)
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who FOR THE JOY THAT WAS SET BEFORE HIM endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus did it all for JOY in His Father, JOY in serving us (Philippians 2:5-7), JOY in fulfilling the Father’s will for all mankind.
So I will ask again: Do you delight in God? Do you seek to know Him and take joy in Him?
In the verses above, the Psalmist reminds us that the works of the Lord are sought out by those who delight in them—and thus those who take pleasure in Him whose works they are. I can tell you why I read God’s Word: I want to know Him better, to understand what He has done and will do, to see His plan for all humanity and for me.
When I met my wife a few years ago, we spent hours upon hours talking about ourselves. And we ate it all up, because beyond our common love for God, we were finding a love for each other. And we are still learning, still maturing, still growing in our faith and in our knowledge of each other. Why? Because we take the time to learn about each other. I take pleasure in her, in the things she does, in the way she does her job, in how she parents our children, and in the myriad beautiful ways she looks from one season to another.
And, as you’ve probably guessed, I delight in God, and so I seek to know Him more, too.
As Jesus said, where our treasure is, there our heart is also. If we treasure anything else more than God, then that is the thing we will spend our time on and devote our attention to. We will spend endless hours reading about celebrities and trivia, and we will spend hours watching videos and movies, and we will devote more time to sports than to reading our Bibles.
The reason people do not read their Bibles and come to know God more is simple: They do not treasure God enough to give Him their time and effort.
“Whoa! That’s harsh!” you say. Yes, it is.
I am not saying everyone needs to be spending as much time as a pastor reading their Bibles. (Although that would be AWESOME!) What I AM saying is that the works of God are wonderful and are meant to be remembered, and we cannot do that if we are spending all our time and effort on useless things. We are meant to REDEEM the time we have, NOT WASTE IT. And the sad part is, that even in this day when we have so many resources available, most people don’t even try to find them. (Here’s one for you pastors out there: How often does a parishioner ask you for help finding a Bible study guide, something to help them make sense of their reading? Not very often, is it?)
Friends, we need not face the Bible alone. First of all, most churches have at least one Bible study group, and many have a half-dozen or more small groups that meet to discuss Scripture. (And I ought to remind you that you do not necessarily need to attend a study at your own church. Ask your friends about other studies at other churches.) Also, there are Bible reading plans to help you attack the Bible one day at a time, spending as little as 20 minutes a day to finish the whole Bible in a year. There are also audio Bibles for those who have trouble reading. Beyond that, we have books upon books ABOUT the Bible—which I know can be daunting, but again we can ask others what helps them understand the Bible. And let’s not forget online resources. (I recently found a nice one for beginner Bible readers, called Enter the Bible.)
My point is that the Bible reminds us again and again that it is God’s Word, and that we are to KNOW that Word. How can we test the spirits if we do not know the Voice of God as it is clearly written in His Word? How can we know whether something we are considering is Godly or self-serving if we don’t have examples to compare our decisions to? How can we make disciples and share the gospel if we cannot explain at least some of God’s Word? The Bible is full of stories and commandments and history and poetry and admonishments and directions and promises. Yes, there are the boring parts. But for every long list of names and numbers, there are countless stories of heroes and hope. For all the darkness of prophecies against God’s enemies, there is the great light of Jesus Christ for those who love God.
I can tell you this from my own experience: No time you spend reading and studying the Word of God is ever wasted. Knowing Him can only increase your love for Him, and you will actually delight in Him more and more. And the more you delight in God, the easier it gets to discipline yourself to study His Word more. And the more you study your Bible… You get the idea.
Father God, You are our greatest treasure, our great reward. We seek to know You more, delighting in Your works and Your Word. May Your Holy Spirit guide us into understanding the Bible better, and help us to take pleasure in knowing Your works as we never have before. Be our sole delight, O Lord! Amen.