"And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19
When I was in middle school, anytime you did something wrong or forgot an assignment, the teachers would hand out this slip of paper called an "Attitude Adjustment". You would have to take this home for your parents to sign, and see exactly what you did wrong during the day. I mention these this morning because it was about one year ago from now that I received an attitude adjustment slip. It was lunch time, and I was sitting down to read my Bible. At that time I was in a personal challenge of reading the Bible cover to cover, and I'd gotten past the more interesting stuff at the beginning of the Bible, and I was at the point where I was reading it just to read it. I was reading it because I had this task before me to read the Bible completely through. It had become a task and a chore- something that had to be done.
One day in particular I sat down to read and I think I read the same verse about twenty times. It just wasn't processing, and I was lamenting the fact that I had so far yet to go in my Bible when I almost felt as though a pair of big beefy hands were gently laid on my shoulders. (Not unlike my husbands hands, I might add.) And I just felt... warmth, and love, and I closed my eyes for a minute and went back to the Bible. Just like that the words that I had been glazing over leaped off the page and I continued reading with renewed vigor and interest. That gentle warm touch reminded me why I was reading the Bible. I needed an attitude adjustment, I needed a reminder of why I was doing what I was doing- and that is to understand and draw closer to God. The words that are on the pages of my Bible are words that God has put down on paper just for me to read. They are words that help me to better understand Him, and they are words to help shape my heart to be more like his.
The Bible is so much more than a book. It saddens me so much when I hear people talking about how they teach their kids that the Bible is simply a book full of stories. Oh, it is full of stories- but the stories are so much more, they are testimonies of the goodness and graciousness of God! They are stories of provision and protection and divine encounters! They are stories of faith and hope and love, and every time we read them, they become more and more a part of us. But one of the most important facets of the Bible is that the Bible is the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Jesus talks in Matthew about this very thing- it's the verse I posted above. The words of God are the keys to the kingdom of heaven. The more we read our Bible, the more we take it in, the better we will know how to communicate with heaven! When we use the words that God has already given us, then what is loosed in heaven will be loosed on earth- and what is bound in heaven will be bound on earth. The secret, the mystery of how to do that is locked within the pages of scripture.
And it's a mystery I want to discover! I used to read mystery stories a lot! I read as many Nancy Drew stories as I could get my hands on- I loved the intrigue and trying to solve the puzzle before the author revealed it on the pages. And now I'm trying to solve the mysteries of Heaven using the best resource there is!
The Bible also gives us clues as to how we're to live. How we are to conduct ourselves with each other- in all circumstances.
"The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:31
My attitude adjustment was necessary because I was viewing my daily Bible reading as a chore- as something that had to be done in order for me to be a "good Christian". But you know what? I don't want to be a good Christian. I want to be more like Christ. And the only way to do that- the only way to get to know Him more and learn more about what I need to do to change is to Read. His. Book. And I need to read that Book with an open heart and an open mind- not with the intent of finishing a chore. How is that any different than doing the dishes or laundry? Or how is that any different than sitting down to a textbook for school? I needed a change of heart- and while my reminder was personal to me, I just felt like I really needed to write about this this morning and encourage anyone who may be struggling with their Bible reading. Ask God to change your heart when it comes to His Precious Words. Ask God to give you an excitement and a desire to read every single word on the page- and to give you an understanding of those words. The more you read, the closer you come to knowing God, and knowing just how wonderful and loving He really is.
"I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you." Psalm 119:11
The more you take it in, the more Christ-like you become. I've come to the point where it's not about quantity at all. Some days I don't read more than a verse or two. Some days I'll read an entire book of the Bible, or a good chunk of Psalms. But I read, and I read with expectation. I sit down and open up the book expecting that God has something to say to me today- and it never fails. There is always something new and fresh and meant just for me. I'll also go through a period of time where I don't read at all. Maybe I'll have read a passage one day and I really just want to roll it around for a while. So I do that. I may read the same passage over again, but I just mull over what that specific passage means to me.
Now sometimes, that does lead to me not picking up my Bible for a few days- and I always can tell when I've let that go on too long. I will start to feel a disconnect. I'll literally get a little short with the kids or with Andy. Or I'll find myself getting annoyed at the smallest things. This may go on for a day or two and then I feel that nudge. That "uh-oh" moment when I realize that the world is creeping back in and I must banish it with some Godly inspiration. It works every time- and this isn't just for me. I can tell when Andy has not been in his Bible as he should. When we're both spending our time in the Word, our household is like a well-oiled machine. We're pleasant and enjoying each others company and our kids, and speak gracious words to each other. When we're not in the Word, we get short and distracted with other things. The Bible can be a soothing balm to just about any abrasive situation we come across.
Reading my Bible should always be a pleasure to me. I should never view it as a task- as something that must be done. Rather, it should be something I do because I want to. And boy, do I want to. I want that connection- I want that perpetual IV of God coursing into my veins, because when that IV is pulled out for a time, my spirit shrivels up. God IS my source, and the way that source keeps going is through the words that He's already given me.