Did you know that the more you read the bible, the more you will experience personal transformation? Bible engagement transforms lives, specifically your life if you are willing to read it. According to the data, 42% of believers are more generous after reading the bible; 54% are more loving, and 56% are more engaged with their faith. When people were asked if they felt like they read it enough, 57% said they wish they read it more. This data reveals that reading the bible does make a difference, so you should read it on a regular basis.
I am often asked by new believers if they should start reading the bible at the beginning. While Genesis is a great book to read, it can be a bit confusing. Most people who start reading the bible in Genesis quit by the time they finish Deuteronomy. They get hung up on all the Levitical Laws and names and timelines. So my advice to new believers is to start with the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John explains the life and ministry of Jesus. It is easy to read and will help a new Christian wrap their hands around what it means to be a follow of Jesus. Then after they finish it, I offer to meet with them or connect to talk about what they read. From there I encourage them to read the Book of Acts because it gives the history of the church and introduces them to the work of the Holy Spirit.
Growing Christians also ask me how to read the bible. I suggest finding a reading plan online that they like or reading the bible from cover to cover in a year. This takes discipline, but it is worth it. Personally, I like reading through the bible once a year. I use the Youversion (online bible app) chronological one year reading plan. This plan helps me to see the scriptures unfold in chronological order. I highlight verses that stand out to me so that I can go back and reference them. I also like to read my hard copy of the bible. I write notes in the margins, use a highlighter to mark verses, and underline key passages. After using the same bible for more than a decade, it is full of my personal notes and highlights. I often reflect on what I wrote and find encouragement in seeing all the answered prayers.
If you are feeling stuck in your faith right now maybe it is because you need read the Bible more. Reading God’s Word is always spiritually refreshing. God is always revealing himself to us in new ways through His Word. You could read the bible a thousand times and still learn something new about God every time you read it.
The bottom line is that the more you read God’s Word, the more you will know about God, his ways, and his will for you. The Holy Spirit will bring biblical truth to life in you. And when you know God’s Word, you will be able to apply it to your life. The goal of every Christian should be to know God and we know God through His Word as it is written in the Bible. The Bible is not just an ancient book, it is God’s inspired Word given to you. So add bible reading to your calendar today. Make it part of your daily routine and see what God does in you and through you. You will be blessed for it.
(resources: stateofthebible.org, accessed 2/26/2019)
In Acts 16:11-15 Paul has been out on his missionary journey making disciples, planting churches, and strengthening existing ones. Silas and Timothy are with him. The three of them travel to the town of Philippi, a city with anywhere from 5-10 thousand residents. Even though the city was well known, there were very few Jewish people in it, not even the required number of married men to start a synagogue. Verse 11 picks up the story.
“11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. 13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.”
Paul typically went to the synagogue to speak to people about Jesus. Since there wasn’t one in Philippi, he went outside the city to the river where he met a few women who gathered there for prayer. One woman at the river was named Lydia. Lydia owned her own business selling purple cloth, which was very expensive and labor intense to make. She was not Jewish but loved to worship God. Lydia believed Paul’s testimony about Jesus, put her faith in Christ, and was baptized. Lydia was Pauls’ first convert in Europe.
Lydia was a prosperous business owner who leveraged her resources for the glory of God. She welcomed Paul and the others into her home and cared for them while they were in her city. She used her influence as a business owner to help others to connect with Christ. By inviting the men to stay at her home she was letting everyone know she had become a believer in Jesus Christ.
Years later Paul wrote the Philippian church, which he saw emerge from a handful of spiritually hungry women led by Lydia. He saw people who were far from God come near to Him and he was elated with what was happening there. Lydia was certainly one of the main reasons why the church grew. Paul writes:
“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:1-6
You can use your influence for the glory of God like Lydia did. You have influence in your family, with your friends, at work, school, or at the gym. Generously give your resources. Give your time, talents, and treasure to impact others. God wants you to use all of them for His glory.
“I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations.” Isaiah 66:19