Delighting in God's Word

Delighting in God's Word

Cultivating Consistency that Lasts

by Guest Writers, NR Johnson | October 29, 2018

I was three days behind and I could feel the pressure mounting.

As I sat in my overstuffed recliner and turned to the correct entry, I knew today would be the day I would catch up and stay on track. Only one paragraph in, I found Oswald Chambers’s pithy words convicting and yet encouraging. 

I love reading My Utmost for His Highest, returning to it every few years as a rich supplement to my Bible reading and study time. Yet, I tend to have a consistent problem with it. I start the daily devotional on January 1st and within a matter of weeks (sometimes days), I miss a day or two and fall behind. With a desire to catch up, I attempt to pack a couple days into one, often getting little out of the reading — but at least I’m caught up. For a while. But only too soon I fall behind again. By mid-year, I’m so far behind I either give up altogether or quit trying to catch up and merely attempt to stay on track from this point forward.

Sound familiar? Perhaps not with a devotional like My Utmost for His Highest, but what about your daily Bible reading?

Now that we are several months into a new year, examine the past months — have you stayed consistent in your Bible reading and study? For far too many of us, we desired to complete a Bible reading plan this year, only to find ourselves days or weeks behind, pondering whether we should throw in the towel and start afresh next year.

Know Your "Why"

If you struggle to read the Bible, examine your “why.” (Why do you read the Bible?) I’ve found that in nearly any endeavor, if my “why” is strong enough, the “how” takes care of itself. If I know why I should and why I want to do something, I’ll figure out a way, I’ll make time for it, and I will cross any hurdle in my way. But when my “why” is weak, I quickly give up.

Why do you read God’s Word? Obviously, there are dozens of reasons why you should read the Bible, but let me propose three ideas to strengthen your “why.”

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1) Grow in Intimacy

Our primary reason for engaging Scripture should be to know the Author, God Himself. All Scripture is God-breathed (see 2 Timothy 3:16), and when we read His Word it is a way to grow in relationship with Him. If I don’t spend time with someone, my relationship with them won’t deepen and strengthen. Similarly, when I come to the Bible with a desire to know the Author, I read it differently; I ponder who He is and all He longs to do in and through my life. I grow in intimacy.

2) Grow in Intellect 

I’ve often said I’m more interested in transformation than information — but knowing and understanding God’s Word is still vitally important. Without a proper understanding of His Word, how will we truly understand God’s character, nature, and purpose? One of the reasons I read and study the Bible is so that I have a proper understanding of it. I grow in intellect.

3) Grow in Insight

Insight is slightly different than intellect. I can have an understanding of something, but when it transfers into insight, I realize how such understanding can be used practically in the way I live. Intellect is like looking at a puzzle piece and understanding the piece itself, whereas insight is like standing back and looking at the puzzle box — the big picture — and knowing how each piece fits within its context. When I read the Word over and over, I become better acquainted with the global picture and God’s purpose which allows me to see how each story, each book, each character, and each verse fits into the whole. I grow in insight. 

Start Anew 

Perhaps, like my reading of Oswald Chambers, you too have found yourself behind in your Bible reading for this year. What should you do?

May I suggest starting anew? Too often we plan to catch up, reading several days worth of reading just so we can stay on target — but to do so often means we rush through it, getting little out of what we read. Perhaps you should just hit a “refresh” button and start afresh. Don’t try to catch up, merely go back and pick up where you left off.

Maybe you haven’t read your Bible in months. If so, don’t wait until the start of a new year, begin now. Don’t make excuses, find a plan and dive into the Word.

A mentor of mine once said that consistency compounds. If you desire to see progress in your Christian life, if you desire to walk in daily victory and triumph, if you long for greater intimacy with Jesus Christ — it will demand a consistent progression. Even small activities, done consistently, result in tremendous transformation over time. Far better to do ten push-ups a day over a month than a hundred at one time. The same is true for reading the Bible. Sure, having an hour of reading a day will be a great profit to your life … but even if you don’t have that much time, consistent reading (even a little) will be a blessing and enrichment to your spiritual life over time. Even if you are a slow reader, you can still read the entire Bible through in a year, even if you only read ten minutes a day. Just think how much you could experience by giving the Word twenty or thirty minutes a day!

Need a few suggestions? Here are five of my favorite Bible reading plans.

Bible Reading Plan 1

George Müller read his Bible daily for decades. How’d he do it? Each day he switched between the Old and New Testaments. One day he’d pick up his Bible, read the Old Testament for as long as he had time, and put a bookmark where he ended for the day. The next day, he’d pick up his spot in the New Testament, read for as long as he had time, put his bookmark there, and return to the Old Testament the following day. The benefit of this plan isn’t in trying to read a certain amount each day but delighting in God and His Word through reading for however long you have.

Bible Reading Plan 2

Designate certain days to read from a different section of Scripture. For example:

Mondays: The Law (Genesis – Deuteronomy) 
Tuesdays: History (Joshua – Esther)
Wednesdays: Poetry (Job – Song of Solomon)
Thursdays: Prophets (Isaiah – Malachi)
Fridays: The Gospels (Matthew – John)
Saturdays: The rest of the New Testament (Acts – Revelation)
Sundays: Your choice

Again, it’s not about quantity but quality. This plan is great because you’ll likely find yourself anticipating certain days in order to read from that day’s section. And you’ll also notice that though you may only read through the prophets or histories once, you will read through the Gospels several times.

Bible Reading Plan 3

Read the Bible chronologically (in the order the events took place). I love reading this way so I see the flow of events — and it helps logically put everything in its place in history.

Bible Reading Plan 4

Read the Bible quickly — in 30 or 90 days. Whether you read the entire Bible or just the New Testament, reading the Bible in a short period of time allows you to see connections and parallels that you often miss when reading slowly over a longer period of time.

Bible Reading Plan 5

If you like variety, there are several One Year Bibles available. These Bibles are structured to split your reading into four sections: Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. Over the course of a year you’ll read through the entire Bible by daily reading smaller sections taken from each of those four areas. A variety of this (and one I like a lot) is the Robert Murray M'Cheyne reading plan where he has four passages to read — but the passages are often profoundly tied together, and you’ll finish the New Testament twice and the Old Testament once in the course of a year.

Want more suggestions and help in choosing a Bible reading plan? I encourage you to listen to episode 49 of my podcast and download the Bible reading plan suggestions by visiting: deeperChristian.com/49.

Put it into Practice

Reading the Bible is not something you should do once in your life. It should be a consistent and normal activity in your routine. George Müller read the Bible nearly 200 times, 100 of those he said were read on his knees. Once you finish reading through the Bible, start over. For variety, choose a different reading plan, read it in a different translation, or listen to it via audio Bible.

What I’ve personally found is that the more I engage with the Word through reading and study, the more exciting the Bible becomes — because I continue to grow in intimacy with the Author, grow in my intellect and understanding of it, and grow in insight of how to practically put it into practice. In other words, my life is changed, my thinking renewed, and my love for Christ increased.

But remember, reading the Bible is only one side of the coin — you should both read and study God’s Word. Reading will give you the global picture while studying provides a greater depth of understanding.

In this eight-week Bible study guide, I want to lead you through knowing a greater delight of God’s Word as declared in Psalm 119.

I invite you to join me on this exciting journey of diving into God’s Word to know Him more. Though this guide may appear simple, it has the potential to radically change your life as you seek to grow in intimacy with Christ. Know I am praying for you and cheering you on into the endless depths of Jesus and His Word. 

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Ready to get started? 

Week One: Psalm 119 Overview 

» Read Psalm 119 several times, preferably in one sitting.  

Consider the main theme and focus of the Psalm.

Key prayer: Ask God (the author) to prepare your heart 

And give you insight into His word.

Questions to ask & thoughts for study:

+ Psalm 119, while also being the longest psalm and chapter in the Bible, is an acrostic poem using the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.  Each section of eight lines (verses) all begin with one letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  This was done so that the psalm would be easier to remember and for poetic beauty.  In English, the first eight verses would all begin with the letter A, the next section of eight verses would all start with the letter B, and so forth.

+  Read section one, Aleph, (Psalm 119:1-8) several times.  How does this form an introduction to the entire psalm?  What is the major focus and theme of these eight verses?

+ What are the different descriptive words the psalmist uses for "God's Word"? (i.e. law, precepts, etc.)

+ According to Psalm 119:1-8, how we are to interact with and engage God's Word?  How can you specifically and practically apply these truths to your life today ... this week?

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Notes for Weeks 2-8:

Each week will give you the focus of your study in Psalm 119. For each section, ponder the following questions:

  • What is the key theme?
  • What insights (if any) can I glean about God’s character, the life of a believer, and the transforming power of God’s Word?
  • How is the Word of God described? How am I to interact and engage with God’s Word? How does this lead to a greater delight in God and His Word?
  • What other insights from this passage do I see? How does this relate to other passages in Scripture?
  • How can I specifically and practically apply these truths to my life today … this week?

Week Two: Psalm 119:9-32

» Read Psalm 119 in entirety at least once this week.  Examine the next three sections as follows:

DAY 1: Read and ponder Psalm 119 as a whole.  Review last week's study.

DAY 2-3: Section 2 (Beth) – Psalm 119:9-16

DAY 4-5: Section 3 (Gimel) – Psalm 119:17-24

DAY 6-7: Section 4 (Daleth) – Psalm 119:25-32

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Week Three: Psalm 119:33-56

» Read Psalm 119 in entirety at least once this week.  Examine the next three sections as follows:

DAY 1: Read and ponder Psalm 119 as a whole.  Review last week's study.

DAY 2-3: Section 5 (He) – Psalm 119:33-40

DAY 4-5: Section 6 (Waw) – Psalm 119:41-48

DAY 6-7: Section 7 (Zayin) – Psalm 119:49-56

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Week Four: Psalm 119:57-80

» Read Psalm 119 in entirety at least once this week.  Examine the next three sections as follows:

DAY 1: Read and ponder Psalm 119 as a whole.  Review last week's study.

DAY 2-3: Section 8 (Heth) – Psalm 119:57-64

DAY 4-5: Section 9 (Teth) – Psalm 119:65-72

DAY 6-7: Section 10 (Yodh) – Psalm 119:73-80

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Week Five: Psalm 119:81-104

» Read Psalm 119 in entirety at least once this week.  Examine the next three sections as follows:

DAY 1: Read and ponder Psalm 119 as a whole.  Review last week's study.

DAY 2-3: Section 11 (Kaph) – Psalm 119:81-88

DAY 4-5: Section 12 (Lamedh) – Psalm 119:89-96

DAY 6-7: Section 13 (Mem) – Psalm 119:97-104

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Week Six: Psalm 119:105-128

» Read Psalm 119 in entirety at least once this week.  Examine the next three sections as follows:

DAY 1: Read and ponder Psalm 119 as a whole.  Review last week's study.

DAY 2-3: Section 14 (Nun) – Psalm 119:105-112

DAY 4-5: Section 15 (Samekh) – Psalm 119:113-120

DAY 6-7: Section 16 (Ayin) – Psalm 119:121-128

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Week Seven: Psalm 119:129-152

» Read Psalm 119 in entirety at least once this week.  Examine the next three sections as follows:

DAY 1: Read and ponder Psalm 119 as a whole.  Review last week's study.

DAY 2-3: Section 17 (Pe) – Psalm 119:129-136

DAY 4-5: Section 18 (Tsadhe) – Psalm 119:137-144

DAY 6-7: Section 19 (Qoph) – Psalm 119:145-152

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Week Eight: Psalm 119:153-176

» Read Psalm 119 in entirety at least once this week.  Examine the next three sections as follows:

DAY 1: Read and ponder Psalm 119 as a whole.  Review last week's study.

DAY 2-3: Section 20 (Resh) – Psalm 119:153-160

DAY 4-5: Section 21 (Sin & Shin) – Psalm 119:161-168

DAY 6-7: Section 22 (Taw) – Psalm 119:169-176

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NRJohnson is a writer, teacher, and communicator who helps Christians build their lives around Jesus Christ. His passion is for believers to gain greater intimacy with Jesus, understand God’s Word, experience the victorious Christian life, and transform the world through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. He is an avid fan of Set Apart Girl Magazine and proudly showcases them on his living room coffee table. Connect with his ministry and learn more about how to study the Bible at: deeperChristian.com/Bible.