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Rethinking How & Why You Read the Bible

I encourage homeschoolers to have a daily Bible time and to try to read the Bible through in a year or two.  But this is not the goal.

The Pharisees read the Bible daily and  memorized large portions of it, but when the Lamb of God stood right in front of them they didn’t recognize Him.

We have a tendency to judge our Christian walk by how much time we spend reading the Bible, and feel guilty for not studying it every day.

Down deep we often believe God is upset because we are not reading it more. This is a performance-based legalistic view of Bible reading that leads more to guilt and even resentment instead of love, joy and peace.

The life of Jesus in us is what matters most.  We can’t equate “Bible smarts” with spiritual maturity.  They’re certainly not the same.

You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me,  yet you refuse to come to me to have life. (John 5:39–40)

Our goal should be to have a relationship with God, to bring glory to Him by the way we live our lives, and by how we relate to Him and others (Matthew 22:37–39; Mark 12:29–31).

The Bible is Our Map

God’s Word is the map to guide us on our journey and the light to show us the way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105

The Free Believers podcast used an analogy of the Bible being a map to Disney World.

If you are planning a trip to Disney Word you can go to Google Maps and print out a map.

You use the map to find your way to Disney. But when you get there you do  not sit beside the Dumbo ride reading the map. You ride the rides.

This is exactly what the Christian world looks like today. It’s a day at Disneyland where thousands of people have filled the park. However, all the rides are empty; there are no lines at the restaurants, no one is paying attention to the characters walking around, and the light parade goes unnoticed. Why? Because everyone is sitting around in clusters studying the map and going over how they got there.~Darin Hufford, Christians and the Bible

The Destination is Not the Map

We know how fundamental the Bible is to daily living and to daily learning. How often, however, do we get so tied up in completing a number of pages the main focus gets lost.

My  daughter, Rebecca, teaches her five children Bible study every morning. Recently she said the wisest thing I ever heard from any homeschool mother:

“Teaching Bible is a priority in our home, but  our children are more influenced by watching Mom respond to the everyday trials of life than the hour spent each morning instructing them on biblical truths. Their thinking, immediate reactions and responses seem to mirror my own more than they do the missionaries or patriarchs of the faith we have read about. The old adage is true, more is caught than taught.” ~Rebecca Keliher, Home Educating Family Magazine

How Do We Change this Mentality?

Jesus says we haven’t a hope of Hea­ven unless our righ­teous­ness sur­pas­ses that of the Pha­ri­sees (Matthew 5:20). We can read the Bible every day, attend church every time the doors are open,  and it be nothing but hypoc­risy and pride.

Our cha­rac­ter is deter­mi­ned by our moti­ves, and motive is always a mat­ter of the heart. Man looks at the out­ward appea­rance, but God looks at the heart. God doesn’t judge us by the amount of time we spend on our knees or in His Word,  he jud­ges us by our hearts.

How do we renew our mind? We need to ask God to lead us. We must stay in prayer and have faith that the God who created the universe and wh0 knows the number of hairs on our head will show us what we need to train our children for Him.

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God.Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:6–8)

We can either be spiritually minded  or we can be carnally minded. We can give God permission to work through us, allowing His love to flow through us, daily.  Moment by moment  we can offer ourselves to God and allow His Holy Spirit to reveal to us what He wants us to do and say.

We can trust Him and rely upon Him no matter what  the circumstances are.

Jesus taught that all the commandments in the Bible can be summarized in two precepts: loving God and loving others (Matthew 22:37–40). These should be our goals, not the number of Bible pages we read each day.

What is your motivation for Bible time? What are your goals?  Do you feel guilt or shame because you don’t read enough?

16 comments

  1. Great post. I was just talking about this same topic with some mom friends last night!
    .-= { jamie }´s last blog ..Prioritizing Loving =-.

  2. Hi Robin,
    I seem to be awakening to this more and more when I even thought I saw heart issues and my heart before the Lord as priority. But when you get the truth that He really does love every intimate detail about us and about others and that He cares to work in us and be fully alive in us, reading the bible is more precious.

    We’ve been enjoying meetings led by Harold Eberle from worldcast ministries and he shares this same heart. He has written many books and spent four years soley seeking the Lord in Christian mysticism and found he wasn’t really more holy like he thought he’d be. He found holiness in the every day activities of playing with his sons and being one with his wife.

    I bought his book on Grace and on the new wineskin and am looking at the one called, The Living Sword, letting the Holy Spirit Interpret God’s word. He also has many bible studies to watch on his website worldcastministries.com

    He was particularly drawn to Romans 10 v. 6-8 that talks about what faith knows. Faith knows the word that is nigh to us, in our hearts and mouth (NIV) Our righteousness comes through this faith (by grace). Faith doesn’t demand who will ascend to heaven or descend to hell and it doesn’t lord that over others. He talks about this, here, you won’t be disappointed listening to this! The reference to Rom. 10 is at minute 38 (start there) on the video.
    http://vimeo.com/5733881

    (I also liked at minutes 35-37 where it talked about spiritual superiority that we can fall into)

    Love in the Lord, Joni

  3. Terri Layne

    Great post! Thank you! Often I have felt guilt over this, or read the Scriptures with my girls and almost immediately acted in an unGodly manner! What does that teach them? That there is no power in the Word, that I am quenching the Holy Spirit, and they may even wonder if I am a believer at all! Sigh…..So glad that there is unending grace. I tell them that is why I need Jesus!

  4. Reading the Bible gives us the foundation to understand and learn about God to the best of our ability, and to continue to grow in our walk with Him.
    .-= Stephen´s last blog ..PATIENCE =-.

  5. Great post! I’ve committed to daily Bible reading, not to check off something on a religious “to do” list, but out of passion to know God better. The key to any relationship is communication and that means talking and listening. Without a doubt, reading His word is the best way to hear Him speak.

    I used to be much more of a “religious” reader and since it’s become about getting to know God, it’s incredible how many times the word has come to life (Heb 4:12) for me in very real and very personal ways.

    Ephesians 3:20 blessings on you, your family and your ministry!

  6. Great post, Robin! Amen and amen.

  7. Thank you so much for bringing us, yet again, to the point of what we are trying to teach our children. It is so easy to get catch up in our lists of things to do that we miss those precious moments of teaching our children through LIVING God’s love.
    Many blessings to you,
    Bek

  8. Excellent! It is similar to general education (whether homeschooling or public school)…the goal is not to come out the other end with a list of thousands of books you have read, or hundreds of courses you have taken, but true knowledge and wisdom.

    Thanks for sharing Robin!

  9. Thank you again for sharing your wisdom. So much good information in there that I want to read again and again until I *know* it!

    Thank you!

  10. I try to read the bible in 3 years. Being Catholic there is A B and C cycle. We are on cycle B.

  11. Robin,
    This is such a great post! I do feel guilty if I don’t read my Bible every day. Unfortunately, the first church I was a member of, was very legalistic and it was drilled into our heads that you should have a morning quiet time, and of course, be at church if the doors were open.

    I personally don’t read chapters at a time unless I just want to. My preference is to read one or two scriptures and really focus on what I’m reading and what God is showing me through those sentences.

    It’s just sad the way Christians have compartmentalized Christianity with rules and regulations. Didn’t we learn anything by reading about the Pharisees?

  12. This is such a great post for me right now, thank you so much! I DO feel guilty that I am not studying and reading enough and that my children are not either.

    I’m always thankful that each day is a new one to start over and get on track – how I act and react to everything that goes on each day.

  13. Robyn, I read on your site that you had discovered Wayne Jacobsen’s and others’ writings and been blessed. I think your comparison to reading the map instead of going in to ride the rides is brilliant. God revealed these things to me not very long ago and I believe we are on the brink of revival out of the Institutional Church and that He will replace it all with HIMSELF! Thank-you for all you do. Your history curriculum is awesome!

  14. I made it a goal to read through the Bible simply because after 15 years of being a Christian I’d never done it before. But I must admit, reading it straight through doesn’t leave me “being fed & communing with God” like using a study guide does for a given passage or using Bible study helps (concordance, commentaries, etc.) It’s very dry reading straight through – like bread & water. This is very unlike the rich & juicy tidbits I devour when I’m digging in and studying. Also, God reaches out and grabs me seemingly only when I don’t have a “goal.” I can’t wait to be done with this. Am reading about 5-6 chapters a day, 2-3 in the Old Testament & 2-3 in the New Testament each day.

  15. Jackie

    Robin:
    I loved this article. I think all parents need to read this and should think about how they are teaching the Bible to their children.

  16. Jennifer

    Great post! My question is where to start with my kids (7 and 9). They have been in Christian school and will move to public school this year. I realized that I was relying on the school to do most of the formal Bible teachings. How do I teach them to do a quiet time? Should I modify a homeschool cirriculum?

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