How Bible Reading Can Change Your Life

Last year, my wife and I were hosting a dinner gathering in our home and one of our dinner guests was a young woman from China. She was attending a university in the US and was visiting with us while attending a Christian conference. During our dinner together, we asked her to share her testimony of how she became a Christian. Her story confirmed to me the awesome power of the Scriptures and how simply reading the Bible can change a person’s life.

Reading the BibleThe Best Diversion

She began by telling us her story about growing up in China where she and her family were all atheists. She knew nothing of God or His word. However, while attending a university in China she had the most amazing experience.

She would often go to the library each day to seek some diversion from her studies. Though she was a student of math and science, she felt she would like to read something different—possibly something on philosophy. But when she searched the shelves of the library she could find nothing suitable to read.

Turning across the aisle she noticed the religion section. At the bottom of one of the shelves she found a large, white-covered book, with the title “Holy Bible” on it. Having never read a Bible before, she began from the first page in Genesis. She repeated this practice for a number of days and then stopped.  However, after a couple of weeks of not reading the Bible, she felt something was missing. She had this strong desire to continue her Bible reading.

The Awesome Power of the Scriptures

While she was reading she came to the Bible verse that says, “And the dove came to him toward evening time, and there in her beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had abated from the earth (Gen. 8:11).

When she came to this verse she was so deeply touched that she said, “I want to become a Christian.” No one told her that she needed to become a Christian, and the subject of this verse wasn’t even about becoming a Christian. Instead, the power of the Scriptures touched her related to the need of becoming a Christian, and this simple experience began her quest to find out how she in fact could become a Christian.

Although time does not permit me to tell the rest of her story, I cannot help but marvel at how a born atheist, without ever hearing the preaching of the gospel, could want to become a Christian just by reading the first eight chapters of the book of Genesis (which, by the way, does not even mention Christ’s name). All I can say is that the Spirit of God is ready to meet people on any page of the Bible.

How many lives could be changed if more people would pick up the simple practice of my Bible-reading friend. Many more of us could share how reading God’s word changed our lives.

I know my own experience confirms this. Though born in a Christian family, I can still testify that it was my own personal reading of the Scriptures that sent me on a quest to enter into the reality of what I read in God’s word.

A Simple Daily Practice of Reading God’s Word

I believe you’ll be amazed at what ten minutes of daily Bible reading can do. This simple daily practice of reading God’s word with prayer will change your life. For more details on this you may want to read my post entitled, “Practical Points on Bible Reading…

Since one of the main reasons people give for not reading the Bible is that they don’t understand it, I’ll also recommend my favorite study  Bible—the Recovery Version. It’s a Bible you can really understand. For more than two decades, my personal reading habit has been strengthened by all the helpful features of the Recovery Version. You can read the Recovery Version Bible online, and you can order a free copy of the New Testament Recovery Version Bible from Bibles for America.

Thank you for reading this post, and I hope that all of us can pick up this habit of daily reading the Bible to experience the power of God’s word.

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Men of God, Living on God’s Instant, Spoken, Applied Words in the Gospels

In my last post I presented some Old Testament examples illustrating the proper attitude of contacting God’s word—an attitude of coming to receive the life supply—as seen in Moses living on everything that proceeds out from the mouth of God (Deut. 8:3), the Psalmist tasting God’s words and being enlivened by them (Psa. 119:103, 93), and the prophet Jeremiah, finding God’s words and eating them (Jer. 15:16). Now I would like to continue along this line by considering how men of God, received God’s word as their food in the Gospels.

The Lord Jesus—Taking God’s Every Word as His BreadMatt. 4:4

In Matthew 4:4, the Lord Jesus, standing in His position as man, defeated Satan’s temptation to turn stones into loaves of bread by speaking forth God’s written word from Deuteronomy 8:3. He said, “Man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God.” Footnote 3 on this verse in the Recovery Version points out that, “This word indicates that the Lord Jesus took the word of God in the Scriptures as His bread and lived on it.” It is interesting to note that the Greek word for “word” here is not the word “logos” but the word “rhema.” Hence, it not merely the constant, written word of the Scriptures (logos) that we live on, but the Scriptures that have been converted to instant, spoken words applied to our situation (rhema). It was with such a digested and applied word that the Lord Jesus defeated Satan. We also need to read, pray and muse upon God’s written words just as Jesus did (Deut. 8:3) so that these words may become our daily bread and our authority to defeat the enemy also. One practical point to note from this example was the Lord’s pattern of audibly proclaiming God’s words. Such a practice of speaking out, praying over and singing God’s word, helps us assimilate and digest God’s word.

The Disciples—Eating the Lord by Receiving His Words—John 6:57, 63, 68

In John 6, the Lord revealed Himself as the believers’ bread of life (v. 35), the true bread out of heaven (v. 32). But how could the Lord’s disciples eat this heavenly bread? Jesus revealed in this chapter the process through which He was passing in order to become their bread including: 1) being incarnated (vv. 32-51a), 2) being slain (vv. 51b-55), 3) being resurrected to indwell (vv. 56-59), 4) ascending (vv. 60-62), 5) becoming the life-giving Spirit (vv. 63-65) and 5) being embodied and realized in the word of life (vv. 66-71).

The practical application to our eating Christ (v. 57) as the bread of life is by coming to Him and believing into Him (v. 35). We should never separate our coming to Bible from coming to the Lord Jesus Himself (see John 5:39-40 and footnote). But how can we come to Him today? Verse 63, points out that it is the Spirit that gives life, referring to His becoming the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45b; 2 Cor. 3:17). To eat the flesh of His physical body was not what Jesus meant. Rather He can give us life only because He is now the Spirit and His Spirit is embodied in His living words. Note 3 on verse 63 points out that “First, the Lord indicated that for giving life He would become the Spirit. Then He said that words He speaks are spirit and life. This shows that His spoken words are the embodiment of the Spirit of life…When we receive His words by exercising our spirit, we get the Spirit, who gives life.”

From these two illustrations we can see how consistent the Bible is in revealing the attitude we should have in coming to read God’s word. May we be more deeply impressed that God’s words are intended to be our food and that His words can never be separated from God Himself. May we ever come to the Word, by coming to the Lord, exercising from deep within, and prayerfully speaking forth God’s words with a spirit of faith (2 Cor. 4:13) that the word would always profit us (2 Tim. 3:16; cf. Heb. 4:2).

Practical Points on Bible Reading and Reading for the Central Line

What I intend to present in this post are the practical points that have been most helpful to me in reading the Bible.  I have taken these points mainly from “Reading the Bible,” the sixth chapter in Lessons for New Believers  by Witness Lee. (You can read it yourself at www.ministrybooks.org, under “Additional Titles by Witness Lee” – listed alphabetically by title.)  There are twelve points that have greatly helped to enrich my practice of reading the Word. These I have divided into three categories: 1) the proper attitude, 2) some simple ways, and 3) some tips on time.

The Proper Attitude for Reading the Bible

The following three points have helped me to have a proper attitude in reading God’s word:

1. Have the attitude of contacting God Himself;  be inwardly prepared to meet God, with a true and sincere heart to draw near to God, and a quiet and open spirit to fellowship with Him; it’s good to begin with a short prayer— John 5:39-40; Matt. 5:8, 3.

2. Have the attitude of coming to receive the life supply; open your spirit, the deepest part of your being, to take in the bread of life from the treasure store of God’s word—Psa. 119:93; Jer. 15:16; Matt. 4:4; John 6:63, 68.

3. Have the attitude of coming to receive enlightenment; this requires both your heart and your spirit; it helps to pray when you read the Bible saying, “Lord, I come to Your Word to contact You. Cause my heart to incline toward You and my spirit to open to You. Cause me to love You more than knowledge and doctrine. May my inner being be nourished and enlightened by Your Word”—Psa. 119:130; 2 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 1:17-18.

Some Simple Ways to Read the Bible

 The following simple ways to read the Bible have rendered me considerable help:

1. Read the books of the Bible sequentially, consecutively and not randomly.

2. Don’t read too much at one time; rather, consider your own situation and develop a workable schedule; the most important thing is to be persistent; avoid impulsive reading. (Personally, I use a custom reading schedule that I made using www.readhisword.com.)

3. Blend reading of the Word with prayer; the moment you receive inspiration, briefly stop your reading, turn the inspiration into a short prayer and then continue reading.

4. Underline precious verses and portions that impress you; you may want to use different colors of pencils to highlight different topics; for example, verses on Christ’s titles, person and work might be one color.  I’ll try to cover this more in my conclusion.

5. Don’t seek too much understanding when reading the Bible which may cause you to be preoccupied with matters that you are not yet prepared to understand.

6. Muse on the Word; when time permits, muse on the Word by prayer, recall it and consider it with other portions of the Word; this doesn’t need to take place while you’re reading the Bible, but during any free time—Psa. 119:15.

Some Tips on Time

The following are a few points that I have employed in setting a regular time in the Word:

1. The best time to read the Bible is in the morning; when we come to the Bible every morning, we are actually seeking to touch the Lord and receive Him as the bread of life; this may be likened to the children of Israel gathering manna each morning—Psa. 119:147-148; John 6:33, 35; cf. Exo. 16.

2. It is best to read the New Testament in the morning and find another time during the day, for example, after dinner or before bed to read the Old Testament.

3. Try to set apart at least ten minutes at a time; twenty to thirty minutes is better, but start with what you can maintain and build up as your capacity grows; remember “the tortoise wins the race.”

Focusing on the Central Line of the Bible and Using the Recovery Version

These practical points on Bible reading are not a part of the central line of the Bible, so they are not points of contention. They are just a number of points that have rendered some help to me over the years. The most important of the points is the proper attitude in coming to the Word. The ways will change and develop over time but our attitude should only deepen as we look for the wonderful Person revealed in the pages of this unique Book.

In bringing this post on practical points back to the view of the central line, I would say that we should “bridle” our reading according to the central line of the Bible. That is to direct our focus to the Word of God, the Triune God, the economy (or plan) of God, the all-inclusive Christ, the life-giving Spirit, the Body of Christ, and the New Jerusalem. If you direct your reading to these great points, you’ll discover “the diamond” in box of the Bible. Look for these points. Pick them up and gaze on them. Pray and muse over them. Underline verses that relate to them. I’d recommend using a different color pencil for each one.

To help you focus on this central line and to get much more out of your Bible reading, I’d like to add one final practical point on Bible reading—obtain a copy of the New Testament (or better yet—the Holy Bible) Recovery Version.  This has been the most helpful tool in my practice of Bible reading over many years. You can get a free copy of the New Testament Recovery Version online at:  www.bfa.org. You can also purchase the Holy Bible Recovery Version online at the publisher’s site: www.lsm.org. (The Recovery Version has rendered me the greatest help because of its understandable and accurate text, enriching and supplying footnotes, and exceptional and enlightening outlines.)

May the Lord richly bless your Bible reading with His dear presence, making it so fresh, nourishing, and enlightening to you, such that you’ll always want to come back for more.