Published January 5, 2016

Shelia Shares
"A Profitable Resolution"

It was the Sunday after Christmas and I started the Sunday School session with a question: "Who here has made a ‘New Year's resolution' for the coming year?"

No one raised their hand. Not one person among those present had made a New Year's resolution.

"Did you make one?" someone asked.

"No, I don't usually make resolutions. I tend to not keep them, so I think it is better to not make them." Everyone smiled and I think they understood what I was saying.

Then I explained that I had been asked to write a paragraph for a magazine article about making resolutions, so I had taken time to think about it. I wanted to share what I had decided to make my "goal" for 2016.

My goal is to read the Bible daily.

When I became a Christian, I began to do what I thought was daily Bible reading. I used a devotional guide and read a verse and a story about the verse and felt I had met with God. Although the devotionals that accompanied the Scripture were uplifting, it was many years later that I realized I was reading mostly about the Bible, rather than actually reading the Bible itself. There is a big difference.

So, for many years I read through the Bible every year.

Then, I had my eye problems and got out of the habit of daily Bible reading. I now do my devotions online with an audio feed and this year, for the first time since my eye surgery, I have completely read through the Bible again. But, I still struggle to have "regular" daily Bible reading.

It does take a commitment to make time for Bible reading. Actually, if you devote 15-20 minutes a day, you can read the entire Bible in a year. Thinking about the amount of time we devote to other things, 15-20 minutes does not seem like that much time to give to hearing what God has to say to us each day.

Trying to read through the Old Testament and then New Testament in order was a problem for me. By the time I got halfway through Numbers, I would get bogged down. I would find myself distracted as I read long lists of names and the measurements of temple items or buildings.

The Navigators put out a daily Bible reading guide back in the 70s or 80s. This one fit me. I still use it and every day I read from four different passages. The four sections of Bible passages are (1) the Gospels, (2) the rest of the New Testament, (3) Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and Job, and (4) the rest of the Old Testament. For me, if one particular passage of Scripture seems hard to comprehend, I will probably pick up some key points from one of the other passages.

It is rare that I feel like it has been a waste of time and I haven't got anything out of the readings. Even on those occasions when I wonder what I have gained by reading this day, I have sometimes recalled part of the Scripture later in the day. The Bible says that God's Word will do what it needs to do and we just need to read and recite and share it. The results are up to the Holy Spirit.

As it is sometimes with prayer, we spend our time reading about prayer rather than actually praying. To make prayer effective, we need actually to pray.

The same is true with studying the Bible. Rather than spending all of our time reading about the Bible, we should actually read the Bible. If it is truly God's Word, then we need (and should want) to hear what He is saying.

After all, as Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."

Join me this year in committing to reading the Bible. It is not too much to ask you to spend 15 minutes reading the Bible. Maybe that is 15 fewer minutes on Facebook or Instagram. Maybe that is 15 fewer minutes watching TV or a movie. Maybe that is 15 fewer minutes dreaming of making your first million or dreaming of the boy (or girl) next door. Maybe that is 15 fewer minutes spent trying to "get even" with that annoying acquaintance of yours.

In prayer, we speak with God. The Bible is His turn to speak with us — and He will if we are willing to listen to His voice.

- Shelia

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