Not too long ago I was gifted with an old family Bible, not my family but a dear friend’s family. It was originally given as a Christmas gift, December 25, 1895. This Bible is probably six inches thick and it has metal clasps to hold it shut. The pictures are beautiful and ornate, and it is written in the king’s English. This Bible sits on a shelf in my office and I look at it often. I wonder about all the people who have paged through it, looked at the pictures and read its words. How many lives were touched by this one Bible I wonder? Now it is very fragile and more of an heirloom or treasure. And they don’t make Bibles like this anymore to my knowledge.
There are other Bibles in my office as well. I have a supply of study Bibles for people to buy if they are looking for a new one. I have extra study Bibles for the confirmation students. There are Kid’s adventure Bibles, the ones we give to kids when they reach second grade. And I have the toddler and baby Bibles we give when kids are baptized. Plus, there are my personal Bibles, the ones I use to teach and study with. Each one has a story. They have different study helps, maps, charts, and graphs. They are different translations and print sizes. One I use way more than all the rest.
There is something about opening up a Bible that brings excitement and anticipation. From the beginning introduction pages…yes you should read them…to the study helps in the back, the Bible is chock full of wonders. When I sit down to read, I pray, asking that God would help me to see what it is He wants to show me that day. Sometimes He hits be right between the eyes with a passage. Other times I find peace or comfort. There is always something to be gleaned from God’s mighty Word. I am looking forward to reading with you this next year. It will be a “Journey of a Lifetime” for each of us. Whether you have read the Bible through before or this is your first time, it is a grand adventure. Now more than ever we need to read that which is truth, God’s truth, the ultimate truth. Scripture is the only place we can read that we know is true.
The psalmist tells us, “Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105. The Bible is where we turn to find guidance, direction, and reassurance that we are headed in the right direction. When Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted by the evil one, we see Jesus response to one of the evil ones attempts. Jesus responds with, “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 Our Bibles are written on paper or parchment by human hands, but God is the true author of all scripture. That is why we know it is truth. And later on, in Matthew’s gospel we read this. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Not only is God’s word truth, but it is also everlasting.
God promises that His Word will always do what He has set it out to do. From Isaiah 55:11, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Reading God’s Word shouldn’t be a chore that we have to do or that we dread doing. And it shouldn’t be something we do just to check off a box on a to do list. This is God’s Word. It is alive and active and sharper than a double-edged sword. One scholar tells us the main reason we read the Bible is not to know the Bible but to know God. The Bible is where we encounter God. We could read the same chapter every day for a year and God would still use that chapter in our lives. Billy Graham said this about reading the Bible. “The very practice of reading the Bible will have a purifying effect upon your mind and heart. Let nothing take the place of this daily exercise.” When we read the Bible there will always be chapters, verses, even whole books that touch us more than others. My hope for you as we read is that you find places you can turn to when you are looking for specific things…things like peace, comfort, joy, hope, guidance. All of life is in the scriptures. And while we may read scripture alone, it is good to be part of a group. That way there will be others to discuss what you have read with. There will be a reason for you to keep reading, both as accountability and as encouragement. And it is simply more fun to read and study together.
Allow me to leave you with these words from the prophet Isaiah. “Grass dries up, and flowers wither, but our God’s Word will last forever.”
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W