Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
When the literary genius Sir Walter Scott lay dying, he said to his son-in-law, “Bring me that book”. His son-in-law looked at the more than 20,000 volumes in the shelves of Scott’s library and asked, “Which one?”. “Need you ask?” replied Scott. “There is only one book—the Bible”.
Indeed the Bible is the greatest book in the world, and even though the Bible may have been written 2,000 years ago, yet it has everything to do with life today. This book is all about life, understanding yourself, finding God and his power to transform. Far from being a book of religious rules, the Bible brings life as you read it.
The Bible is about life. As one man was reading the Bible to learn about God, a different realisation dawned on him: This book is all about me! He felt like it was describing his struggles, fears, hopes and desires. Reading the Bible not only helps you to see God more clearly, it helps you to see yourself more clearly. The Bible can be like a mirror to our souls.
Eugene Peterson, a writer who has translated the Bible, says: “When you hold a Bible in your hands, it contains our collective stories. Each of us can find little glimpses of ourselves in its pages. The people in the Bible are a whole lot like you, and a lot of them were far from perfect. We need to open our eyes and see what God would have each of us understand about ourselves.”
A story of people
The Bible is a story of people and how God works in their lives. You are a part of that story too!
Like any good story, the Bible deals with the big questions and themes we face in life—life, death, hope, disappointment, love, tragedy, evil, existence, meaning, purpose. The Bible is a relevant book to understanding life—it offers insight into why things are the way they are, why we are the way we are, and how things could be different.
It’s a guide to life in this not-so-perfect world. The Bible is honest about life with all its problems and human frailties. Its contributors tell it like it was, no matter how raw and real, admitting their mistakes and weaknesses in facing life’s challenges. You’ll find the Bible offers practical wisdom and guidance for life—how to live at peace with yourself, with others and with God. The Bible can help you find God himself.
The Bible is a direct way to get to know who God really is. The Bible describes itself as God-breathed. Just like a letter to a close friend, the Bible is God’s letter to people from his heart. It is his message to you and it is what he wants you to know about him. In searching for God, go straight to the source to find him: read his words in the Bible.
A book with power to change
The Bible is more than just a book—it’s a book that has power to change. Have you ever wanted to change something about yourself? In your past efforts to change, maybe you have encountered the huge difference between knowing what to do to change and actually doing it. Simply knowing what we ‘should’ do in life doesn’t always seem to provide enough motivation or power to act on it.
Going far beyond offering inspiration or self-improvement techniques, the Bible’s message tells us how God offers us the power to change by trusting ourselves to Jesus. Jesus says, “The Spirit of God can make life. Sheer muscle and willpower don’t make anything happen. Every word I’ve spoken to you is a Spirit-word, and so it is life-making” (John 6:63). James, the brother of Jesus writes, “Humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you” (James 1:21).
This is not a mere change of your habits or words, but a change of your heart, hopes and your very being. But perhaps the idea of change makes you cringe. Whether it is a change you are resistant to or whether it is a good change you welcome, change is uncomfortable.
Many people think that following Jesus means giving up everything they deem pleasurable in life. Giving your life to Jesus is not so much about giving up what you think ‘the good life’ is—it is more about coming into the fullness of life that God intended you to experience. Jesus says, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed” (John 10:10).
God’s letter to people
Reading the Bible can bring you new life. Read the Bible with your mind to find out what its main message is—let it speak for itself. This kind of reading is comparable to how you might read a newspaper article. You have to read it to understand what it is actually saying before you can react to what it is saying. As you read, ask questions about the main characters and central themes in the grand narrative of the Bible’s story line. What does it say about Jesus? God? Humanity? How does it give insight, clarify or change your view of who God is? Jesus? How people are?
The Bible is much more than just a book—it is God’s letter to people and his intention is to speak to you through its words. Keeping this in mind, be willing to engage with what you read. What do you think about what it is saying? How do you react to what you are observing? What resonates with you? What doesn’t sit so well with you? Why?
Respond to what you read. True knowledge and understanding happens when you respond to what you are reading and experience it for yourself. God intends for the Bible to be much more than mere information for you—there is power in its pages for transformation.
(To be continued in Why Read the Bible – Part 2)
By: David Kerr