Saturday, September 9, 2017

Do You Read the Bible Like a Nonbeliever?

Over the years in my pastoral ministry, many people have complained to me that they do not have motivation to read the Bible. They have a sense of duty that they should, but the desire is not there. It is remarkable how many of those people feel that the absence of the desire is the last nail in the coffin of joyful meditation on God’s word.

 

The most basic prayer we can pray about reading the Bible is that God would give us the desire to read this book. Not just the will — that would be next best — but the desire.

That is what the apostle Peter said we should have: “Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk” (1 Peter 2:2). Similarly, the psalmist said that the righteous person delights in the law of the Lord (Psalm 1:2). And why wouldn’t we, since God’s words are “more to be desired than gold” and “sweeter than honey and drippings from the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10)? Why wouldn’t we? Because our hearts tend to become cold and dull and hard and blind.

All of us know what it is like to read without seeing “wondrous things.” We have stared at the most glorious things without seeing them as glorious. We have seen marvels without marveling. We have put God’s sweet kindness on the tongue of our soul without tasting sweetness. We have seen unspeakable love without feeling loved. We have seen the greatest power and felt no awe. We have seen immeasurable wisdom and felt no admiration. We have seen the holiness of wrath and felt no trembling. Which means we are “seeing without seeing” (Mattew 13:13). This is why we must continue to weave the thread of God-dependent prayer into our reading: “Show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18).

That’s the most basic reason we need to pray about our Bible reading. We drift away from the desire to do it. Few prayers have I prayed more often than this — Lord, keep me from drifting away from your word! “Incline my heart to your testimonies” (Psalm 119:36).

Reading Like Atheists

Over the years in my pastoral ministry, many people have complained to me that they do not have motivation to read the Bible. They have a sense of duty that they should, but the desire is not there. It is remarkable how many of those people feel that the absence of the desire is the last nail in the coffin of joyful meditation on God’s word.

When I ask them to describe to me what they are doing about it, they look at me as if I had misunderstood the problem. What can you do about the absence of desire, they wonder. “It’s not a matter of doing. It’s a matter of feeling,” they protest. The problem with this response is that these folks have not just lost desire for God’s word, but they have lost sight of the sovereign power of God, who gives that desire. They are acting like practical atheists. They have adopted a kind of fatalism that ignores the way the psalmist prays.

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The post Do You Read the Bible Like a Nonbeliever? appeared first on The Aquila Report.



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