Who among us readers has not been caught in an assumption? We might use a word we think is right but really don’t know the meaning of and someone calls us on it. It’s rather embarrassing when we get caught but often we don’t so we assume we were right and move on none the wiser but again, none the wiser.
As a minister I hear a lot of assumptions spoken about the Bible. “God helps those who help themselves”, or “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”, are things I hear fairly often by people who are well meaning and assume it is a phrase lifted from the Bible. It is spoken so often without challenge that most assume it is holy writ. Another common phrase equally unchallenged as a quote from the Bible is, “God buries your sins in the sea of His forgetfulness.” Again, well meaning but not included in any Bible I have ever read.
Lest I sound too judgmental, I too have been caught speaking a phrase I was certain was a Bible quote. “A fool and his money are soon parted” assuming this was a quote from the Book of Proverbs. Alas, it is lifted from Ben Franklin’s Poor Richards Almanac. My bad.
My point? There is no substitute for knowing the real deal. Yes, this is a plug for all of you wonderful readers to take up your own Bible and read it, yes, all the way through, cover to cover. It is possible. I am not a voracious reader myself but I do manage to read the Bible from cover to cover every year. I have read my Bible(s) 34 times cover to cover and am in my 35th reading as of this writing.
I don’t know if it is true or not, but one critic of the Bible was scoffing at the fact that the Bible is the number one best seller of any book virtually every year. He said if the Bible is the best selling book in the world, it is the most unread best seller in the world. Hmm. I can’t comment on that statement for anyone else, but I can make sure that isn’t true about me. How about you? Would you care to make the Bible the most read best seller for you? I hope you will consider it. There are so many benefits to reading the Bible that you will discover. Hopefully among the benefits will be the ability to discern what is and isn’t actually scripture.
Consider some other benefits of reading the Bible this year. Here is an actual Bible quote that describes the valuable benefits of scripture reading:
You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies;
For they are ever with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.
— Psalm 119:98, 99 (NKJV)
Wisdom and understanding are something we could all use more of. Peace, truth, and encouragement are other benefits the Bible tells us accompany those who spend time reading its pages. I find reading the Bible helps me focus for the day and gives me something good think about or ponder. Perhaps the greatest benefit I feel is that I just enjoy reading the Bible every year. I never cease to find something new, understand something better, and review some of the familiar stories, characters and truths that speak volumes about our lives.
On a personal note, I find it is an excellent way to begin my day. To read through the Bible each year, I take about thirty minutes each morning to read a portion of the Bible. This actually is more than I need to read to get through in a year, but it helps when life gets interrupted so I don’t fall behind. The use of a Bible reading guide is very valuable not only to track your progress, but to keep your place when you can’t get to your Bible for a few days.
For those with smartphones, tablets or computers, the You Version, online Bible App has many reading plans, versions of the Bible, notes, searches, etc. Just go to: www.YouVersion.com for a free download and have a take anywhere Bible with you all the time.
So, I hope you consider going to the source for your inspirations. Find what really is among the pages of the Bible. Pull yours out, dust if off and find out what is inside. Make it the most read bestseller of all time for you.
Rev. Stephen Brown is the pastor of Kenai New Life Assembly of God. He has pastored New Life for the past 28 years.