I’ve been there. We’re coming up to the new year. Your church, parent, or youth pastor had challenged you about daily devotions.
Maybe you tried to do a “read through the Bible in a year” plan. Maybe you tackled the Old Testament— diving right in at Genesis. Maybe you got bogged down somewhere in the book of Leviticus and wondered when you were going to get out of the part about laws, sacrifices, and infectious skin diseases! Let’s face it: Reading the Bible—especially reading it every day—is hard work. It takes serious discipline.
I think, though, sometimes it’s hard for us to read it every day because we forget two important truths about the Bible—truths that make all the difference.
First: We forget that the Bible is not just a book about God; the Bible is God speaking. The apostle Paul tells Timothy that the Bible is “God-breathed,” that is, inspired by God. There are, of course, many different human authors who wrote the books of the Bible over hundreds of years, but the doctrine of inspiration means that, ultimately, there is one author of the Bible: God himself. The God who made us—and everything else in the universe—made sure that his written Word contained exactly what he wanted it to contain. Nothing in the Bible is there by accident! The Bible is God speaking to us, and he says what he says on purpose.
This truth has huge implications for how we read, study, and listen to the words of the Bible. We don’t read it just to get more knowledge or to get the “right answers” at youth group. We read it to hear God speaking to us! Reading the Bible should be, first and foremost, personal.
Do you read the Bible that way? Sometimes I don’t. I forget that the Bible is God speaking—to me—today. That makes a huge difference in how we approach it.
Second: we forget that the Bible is not just a collection of random books and writings; the Bible is one story. This truth comes from the fact that the Bible has one main author: God. If that is true—if God inspired the Bible and is the ultimate author of it—it makes sense that it would all hang together. And it does! The Bible has an incredible unity to it—a unity that would be impossible if God hadn’t designed it that way.
The Bible is one story. It’s a story of God’s love and salvation for the people he has created. It has a beginning: creation (Genesis). It has an end: new creation (Revelation). It has a climax: the cross and resurrection. It has a hero: Jesus Christ, God’s Son. And the best part is that we are living in the final act of the story. We are living as part of the church of Christ, waiting for Jesus to come back. We are “Bible characters”!
That’s why I called my book, The Story, because that’s what the Bible is. The Story contains 365 devotions that walks through Scripture – putting on display the big picture plan.
This is a not a commentary.
In fact, the devotions could be read in one sitting.
Because of this: Please, please, PLEASE read the Bible passages. Don’t just read my devotional thoughts. If you do that, you will have missed the most important and life-giving part of this process: hearing God speak to you through his inspired Word. The devotional thoughts are meant to help you understand God’s Word better, not to stand alone as your time with God.
To get you started, P&R is providing the first 30 days of The Story – a tour through the book of Genesis – for Free. Simply sign up and beginning January 1st you’ll begin to receive a new devotion each day – but remember – PLEASE read along with your Bible.
Beginning January 1st, 2016, you’ll receive a new devotion every day for 30 days. The devotional will cover the book of Genesis and show the major themes that set up the rest of the Bible.
(Offer ends January 1st)
You’ll also be receiving additional insights on studying the Bible – from yours truly.
I hope to join you in 2016!
Jon Nielson has served as pastoral resident at Holy Trinity Church in Chicago and has worked in youth and sports ministry there. He has also worked as director of training for the Charles Simeon Trust, an organization that provides training in biblical exposition. He is currently the undergraduate ministry director for students at Princeton University.