Craving the Check Mark
Have you ever started one of those one-year Bible reading programs? A few years ago I started one with the best intentions, to read the Word of God. If you've heard my testimony of grace you know that as a young guy I struggled with a legalistic approach to God's Word. I viewed it as an obligation filled with superstitious effects. The way this played out in my life was that I would attempt to spend my morning or evening reading my Bible and praying, hopefully about 30 minutes or to at least read one chapter. I would often fail to live up to that commitment and would feel all sorts of condemnation over my failure. I would then view any act of sin as a direct result of my failure to read the Word or spend enough time in prayer.
This life of bondage to my own laws left me exhausted and drove me away from reading the Word of God or spending time in prayer. So much so that while I was in Bible College I really had no personal time of prayer and Bible reading at all. I read for class or assignments but was literally afraid to devote time to the Word and prayer. I feared coming back under the bondage of law-keeping.
In 2011 I was going through a lot, my wife and I experienced our first of two miscarriages and I was shaken pretty hard. During this painful season I found myself drawn by the Holy Spirit to the Word of God. I had an intense hunger for it. So I started reading every morning and devoured it. The Lord did incredible things in my life during this season. I found grace on every page.
As time went on I wanted to try one of those Bible reading programs on my Bible app. It started out really good, and overall I do believe it to be a helpful thing. However, I soon started to crave the checkmark. This is not the case for everyone so I'm not telling you to ditch your reading app or your reading program but for me I kept checking the meter that showed how far I had read and how much remained. I enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment at checking off a box. I had drifted from the reason for reading God's Word. He was speaking but I was looking for accomplishment. Reading programs can be great when used as an aide or tool to help your Bible reading but not when the program becomes your focus.
So why do we read the Word of God?
Well because I want to be satisfied. Nothing will satisfy in this life like Jesus Christ.
John 6:35 I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
His Word is alive and not just a bunch of words about him, it’s the Word of God. In reading his Word faith is awakened in our hearts, there’s grace there.
Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Paul encourages us to devote ourselves as well to public reading of the Word in our gatherings. This shows us to commit ourselves to it.
1 Timothy 4:13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.
As I mentioned in the message, Grace in the Gathering, from the series The Body, reading the Word is one of the Ordinary Means of Grace. These things are not fancy they’re the stuff of everyday, basic Christianity. These means that God uses to pour grace into our lives are so simple, they’re ordinary but through them we experience the extraordinary.
Ray Ortlund writes, “How awakening it is when we come before the Lord through His means with the humble faith and sincere repentance that the gospel calls for. The early church was living proof of the power of the ways of God.” I believe God uses these as a means for reviving our hearts. In these means God is showering His people with unexpected favor, grace.
I encourage you to see the beauty of God's Word and treasure the gift of having it so readily available. Joyfully lay yourself in the path of Christ's promised grace and power by spending time with the Lord because only He can satisfy your heart. Not for a check mark or for a time clock but because He's good and He’s giving us the gift of hearing from Him.