I have heard people say that they don’t read the Bible because they already know all the stories. They learned about Noah and Abraham and Moses and Jesus in Sunday School as a child. What would be the point in continuing to read the same stories over and over again? We don’t do that with any other book… Not even our favorite books. We may read our favorite book several times over the course of our lifetime, but we don’t make a point to read a little bit of it each day. Why should we, then, do that with the Bible?
I think there are a lot of important answers to that question.
For example, the Bible is such a long book, jam-packed with wisdom and instruction, that there is no way we could absorb and retain it all without reminding ourselves of what it says via frequent readings.
Also, we have to remember that the Bible is like no other book in that it is alive (Hebrews 4:12). That doesn’t mean it has a heartbeat or brain activity. It means the Holy Spirit uses the Scriptures to speak to us in our exact situations, bringing to our attention truths that are specific to our lives at that very moment. Theoretically, we can read the same passage ten times on ten different days, and it will hit us ten different ways if we have an open heart.
Here’s what I’m talking about.
Today I had no idea what I was going to write about. I just knew it had been awhile since I had last written, and I needed to sit down and produce something. I bought my coffee, opened my laptop, and asked the Lord what I should write on today.
I didn’t really take the time to sit quietly and wait for Him to answer. Instead, I was reminded of the phrase “all joy”. I had read it in the Bible sometime last week and remembered being struck by it. I had no idea where I had seen that phrase, so I did a quick search on my computer.
Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Wow. That is a powerful verse, I thought. I considered writing on it, but I got the feeling I had written on it before. So, instead, I backed up to the beginning of chapter 15 and read the whole thing.
I’ve read Romans 15 at least eight times in my life. But it’s not a chapter I frequent. So I’d forgotten a lot of the riches it contains. In fact, it was as if I was reading it for the first time. Several verses stuck out to me as containing amazing concepts. But verse 4 is the verse that spawned this blog post.
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
The Holy Spirit highlighted this verse to me in a way that has never struck me before. The Spirit seemed to say to me, “Reading the Bible will encourage you to have hope.”
Who doesn’t need more hope in their life?!
I read the verse again and something else stuck out to me. We have to have endurance. We won’t reap the encouragement of the Scriptures, and experience the subsequent hope, if we aren’t faithfully, regularly, and openheartedly coming to the Bible. It requires some effort on our part. We have to push through our fatigue, our indifference, and all our other excuses that keep us from reading the Bible each day. We have to endure, pick it up, and ask the Lord to speak to us in a personal way. And He will.
He will use the Scriptures to teach us and to encourage us so that we might have hope.