Monday, January 5, 2015

First Things First

What did you read today? Was it something about your health issues? Did you spend some time on Web MD searching for answers for your pain? Maybe you read a self-help book about living with chronic pain, or making the most of your life as it is. While this kind of reading may sometimes be helpful, I have an idea for a change in your reading habits, and mine too.

I’d like to propose that we make a commitment, right now, that every day we will read God’s Word before we read anything else. This will usually mean that Bible reading is one of the first things that will happen each day. Before Facebook, before the newspaper, before anything else, we will get into God’s Word and meditate on what we find there. There are at least three reasons for you to consider this change, and I hope that after I present my case, you will see the benefit.

Godward Focus

First, reading God’s Word before anything else sets our minds toward Christ from the very beginning of the day. Before we have a chance to covet our Facebook friends’ happy lives, or worry and fret about the evil depicted in the daily news, we will have a moment to reflect on the goodness and mercy of God. We will be reminded of His love for us and His incredible grace in our lives. This will remind us to be grateful for all that we have, rather than focusing on what we don’t have.

Note to self

Another benefit of first-thing Bible reading is that it sets our self-talk in the right direction. Did you know that you talk to yourself all day long? Every thought of your heart is a conversation with yourself. Either you will believe your self-talk or you will combat it with biblical thought. I don’t know about you, but if I let my conversations with myself go unchecked, they usually tend toward the negative. If I’m not careful, they will circle the drain until they lead me to despair. But when I bathe my heart and mind in the Word of God first thing in the morning, that default setting is reset to a more godly thought pattern.

Perspective

Finally, when I read the Word of God first thing in the morning, I gain eternal perspective on the other things I will read throughout the day. When I carry with me that assurance of hope from my morning reading, I am less likely to worry and fret about the headlines or the lab results or the Web MD diagnosis. God’s Word is different from anything else you can read. By the power of the Holy Spirit, It penetrates the heart and mind (Hebrews 4:12), and stays with you throughout your day, as you walk with the Lord.

There are lots of reading plans with charts and check boxes, accountability suggestions, and systems for completing the Bible in a year. I’m not against these. They can be good for forming a reading habit if you have not already done so, and I believe every Christian should be able to honestly say they have read the whole Bible. After all, how can you be ready to defend the truth of God’s Word if you haven’t read it?

But my challenge goes a little deeper. I want you to meditate on the Word of God. Even if it means that you read only one verse or a short passage each day, I want you to stay there until it sinks into your heart and mind. Pick a book, and read until you come to a verse that really speaks to you somehow. Write that verse out in a journal, and think carefully about each word. Ask the Lord to show you how you can apply it in your life today, and write down what you learn. By the end of the year, you will be amazed at what you have learned, and how you have grown. What do you think? Will you accept my challenge? Leave me a comment if you like, and we’ll head in to 2015 with a plan!