Turn on the Torch in 2021

Did you know that the longest chapter in the word of God is about the word of God? Psalm 119 is 176 verses of acrostic poetry devoted to the beauty, necessity, and power of God’s written word, the Bible. And some of it is heady stuff. The psalmist says, for example, in verse 97, “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long”, and in verse 103, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”

Kevin DeYoung says in his excellent book ‘Taking God at His Word’, “Surely it is significant that this intricate, finely-crafted, single-minded love poem—the longest in the Bible—is not about marriage or children or food or drink or mountains or sunsets or rivers or oceans, but about the Bible itself.”

I think he’s right. It is significant. The fact is, we need the Bible. We cannot know God truly and follow him faithfully without it. It is, to use another image from Psalm 119, “…a lamp for (our) feet, a light on (our) path” (v.105). To try to follow Jesus apart from the Bible is like stumbling around in a dark room with a torch in your hand that you haven’t yet switched on. It’s not only a bit ridiculous, it’s dangerous.

So, the question is: How can we turn the torch on in 2021? How can we begin to read the Bible if we haven’t yet started? Or if we’ve stopped because we tried but found it tough going? Or the busyness of life has pushed time in God’s word to the margins? Or whatever reason that has led us to neglect the lamp we need to light our way.

YouVersion (the Bible app) offer the following ideas to help you light the lamp and spend time in God’s word this year.

Pray for the desire of your heart to change. It takes a change of heart for any discipline to stick. Just because we know we should do something doesn’t mean the discipline to follow through comes naturally. A change inside our heart will help what happens on the outside.

Why do you want to read the Bible every day? Make up your mind about the benefits of starting the day in God’s Word. When we are faithful with our time and make a daily commitment to seek Him early, God will do the work and make a way for everything in your day.

Make it a non-negotiable part of your day. Just like an athlete prepares for race day, we must protect this time to practice and work out our faith in God’s Word every day.

Set your alarm and schedule time with God. You might write your commitment in the calendar to protect this time from “urgent” requests. Wake earlier than the rest of your household to ensure there are no distractions. Consistency creates a habit. Over time, this time with the Lord will become a non-negotiable part of your day.

Use your phone. Download the YouVersion Bible App on your digital device so the Word is always with you. Whether you’re waiting in a doctor’s office or waiting on a friend, you can make the most of your time in the Word. You might put your device on airplane mode while reading to avoid distracting alerts.

Subscribe to a reading plan on the YouVersion Bible App. The Bible App allows you to set a daily reminder for your Bible Plan commitment.

Connect with others. Find a friend to connect with you in the app and discuss the day’s devotional together. Invite a group of friends to subscribe to the same reading plan and comment using Plans with Friends to create a community of reading accountability.

Start small, simple, and doable. A runner doesn’t run 20 miles on the first day of training. They start with small goals. As stamina grows, so does the workout. Starting with a lofty reading goal may lead to burnout or feeling like a failure when you’re short on time.

Focus on a few verses a day to keep your reading manageable with the time you set aside. You might find yourself learning more when you read less. The book of Proverbs has 31 bitesize chapters, convenient for reading one a day. Look at the calendar and read the chapter that corresponds with the date (i.e. On October 23rd you would read chapter 23 in Proverbs).

Set mini goals like memorization. Learning to memorize scripture will help you dive into the Word. The ultimate goal is to have God’s Word engraved in your heart when the Bible isn’t handy. Pick a new memory verse every 30 days.

Listen to the Bible on the go. A day might come when you find it hard to read God’s Word. Try the audio feature in the Bible App and listen to Scripture while you’re driving in traffic or out for a walk.

Make reading the Bible a family practice. Subscribe to a Bible Plan the entire family can share together. Discuss the devotional during dinner or over dessert. Choose the Bible App for Kids or pick up a few Bible stories that can be shared at bedtime.

It takes discipline to grow spiritually. That discipline will lead to delight in what we are doing, and delight will always guide us into an increased desire. When we stay committed to reading God’s Word daily, our delight for the Bible grows, and we find ourselves enjoying the discovery of wisdom in God’s Word.

There will be days when we fail to read even a verse, and that’s okay. The goal is not to check a box or cross off a list of activities that might be considered religious. We want to sincerely create a habit of being in His Word because we love God and truly believe His way is the only way to live our best life.