We love Jesus… so why are we still dealing with these issues? In this series, we address how the gospel frees us from the shame associated with our daily sins and struggles, and then helps us overcome them.
By Kathy Johnston
Do you ever feel guilty when you haven’t spent time reading the Bible? Have you ever started a reading plan and in a few short days or weeks got so far behind you quit? I sure have!
Here’s how the cycle usually goes: I start off with determination and a “can do” attitude. But alas…about the third week into January, I can get so far behind that I become overwhelmed and just quit. Of course feelings of guilt and shame soon follow, as I listen to the nagging voice of the devil telling me I’m a loser Christian and God is for sure shaking his head at me in displeasure.
Isn’t it funny how easily we can forget the gospel, and that our salvation and standing in Christ has nothing to do with our performance, even in our attempt to read the Bible in a disciplined format? Ephesians 2 tells us that it’s while we were still dead in sin that he made us alive in Christ. Yes…that means that before we had ever picked up a Bible and read it, he had already chosen us to be holy and blameless before him. (Ephesians 1:4-15)
And yet, if you are at all like me, how quickly I can begin to think my right standing with God is measured by my performance, or lack of it. I hate that. I know it’s not true, but the enemy really tries to derail me with it sometimes.
We build our lists of things that we do or don’t do, to measure God’s love for us. Things like “I didn’t read my Bible today so I’m sure he’s not happy with me”…or, “I read 13 chapters today so I’m feeling pretty dang spiritual, I’m sure God’s giving me the thumbs up today!”
Haha! I know that sounds ridiculous but it’s just the way our natural minds work sometimes. Not that reading the Bible isn’t good for us, it most definitely is! But God’s love for us is not based on whether we have or have not read his Word, or gone to church, or paid our tithe, or any other “have to do” items that we somehow think makes us “better” in God’s eyes.
The truth is, the Bible is God’s words to us. He gave us his Word so we could know him, trust him and see how he has made a way for mankind to once again have relationship with Himself. He reveals his great story of creation, fall, redemption and restoration throughout the pages of his book. He shows in his Word that he desires relationship with us and that he wants to use us in his process of restoration. He has rescued us from the power of sin, bondage and hopelessness that all humanity is born into. He offers his salvation as a free gift, by his grace alone, through faith alone. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
When we pick up our Bibles, we hold in our hands his very words, written over the centuries of human history by authors, inspired by his Holy Spirit, to reveal to us his perfect character and his great plan to make all things new once again. He wants us to know who He is, what he has done, what he is still doing and how we are part of his plan.
The enemy however, wants us to look at reading the Bible as some kind of “works justification”, not as a way we can know God. Satan does not want us to see that God’s word is alive and active, that it cuts between soul and spirit, joint and marrow…exposing our innermost thoughts and desires. (Hebrews 4:12)
As we read his Word, we begin to understand the true state of our sinful nature apart from Christ. At the same time, we discover that God is actually rich in mercy, full of grace and steadfast love and that in fact, we are no longer “wretched” beings, dead and separated from God, but instead, we’re alive! We’ve been transformed into new creations that have been saved by his grace and seated with him in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 2:4-7) And we find that God is full of patience and mercy in the process of transforming our hearts.
The enemy knows this is the effect of spending time in God’s Word. Satan is going to use any tool he can to keep you from it. You can count on it. And often, if he can’t keep you from it, he will at least try to make you feel guilty when you don’t. So reading the Bible becomes a chore rather than a privilege to know God and be renewed by his words of hope.
So I guess the ultimate purpose of this blog is to encourage you to read the Word. Not out of guilt or as another thing to check off your spiritual “to do” list, but to approach God’s word as HIS words of life and truth and love to you.
As Rachel Jankovic writes so beautifully in this excerpt from her blog:
“We need God’s word more than we need food. We are strengthened by it. We are equipped for every good work through it. We can trust that where God sends out his word in our lives, it will not return to him void. It will accomplish the thing for which he sent it.
We’ve simply come to feast. We have all been invited. There is a place prepared by a loving Father for each of us. The food is abundant, endless, nourishing, restoring, perfect, and occasionally confusing. The task is simple. Eat it. Be filled. Do it again. Do it forever. Enjoy the bounty before you — enjoy what your Father has done for you and said to you. Trust the Master of this feast, and enjoy the table fellowship.
But many of us are not in our chairs. We’re under the tables, scavenging for crumbs dropped by the “good eaters” at the table — famous bloggers, Christian teachers, great preachers. We can find enough crumbs at their feet to survive, maybe even live well, but we wouldn’t be obeying God. There is a place with your name on it, a book for you to eat. Get up and eat. Do not be satisfied with crumbs, because your Father is not satisfied with that for you.”
Ladies, let’s come to the table and feast on his Word! Not out of guilt or obligation, but because it’s life for us! Grab a girlfriend or two and commit to each other to spend time in his word every day. Start a text thread asking what you’ve each read and how he spoke to you, or questions you had as you read through the scripture that day. It could be a word, verse, chapter or book! But whatever it is, just do it! Let’s encourage each other to eat! And when one of you hasn’t, it’s okay! Help each other back to the table…Jesus is still there waiting and loving you still!