As followers of Christ, we are trying to become like Jesus. That is God’s will for us. He is our role model. He is the standard against which all humanity is measured. And that is because He is the only person who has ever lived, whose life was perfectly aligned with God’s will. To become like Christ, we must consistently practice those inner disciplines, those habits, that Jesus modeled on earth and which he passed along to his disciples.
If we are to progress in Christlikeness, the first spiritual discipline or habit is spending time in God’s Word. The faithful study of the Bible brings many benefits. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus tells us that God’s Word nourishes our spirit: “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” The Bible tells us that God created us in his image, and as his image-bearers, we are not just physical beings, we are also spiritual beings. This means that we need to be nourished spiritually just as much as we do physically.
Not only does God’s Word nourish our spirits, it renews our minds. To become a truly godly person, you have to begin to think in a godly way. Your actions always follow your thoughts. How you think is critical to how you live. Your thoughts will ultimately determine your actions, your character, and your destiny. If we are to become like Christ, our minds need to be renewed, and the consistent study of God’s Word is indispensable in that process.
There is a third benefit you can expect from spending regular time in God’s Word: it liberates us from sin’s power. Jesus once said, “If you continue to follow my teaching, you are really my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). All of us need to be set free today. We are in bondage to our anger, our lust, our unforgiveness, our jealousy, our bitterness, and our selfishness. God’s Word, the Bible, is the source of the liberating truth that we need.
There is a fourth benefit that comes to those who spend time in God’s Word: it equips us for service (2 Timothy 3:16-17). This verse tells us that God’s Word is profitable for: teaching (how to get on God’s path), reproof (where you got off the path), correction (how to get back on the path), and training in righteousness (how to stay on the right path). What is the end result? It is a person God can use. A person who is adequate and equipped for every good work.
There is a fifth benefit you can expect from regular exposure to God’s Word: it gives us wisdom beyond our years (Psalm 119:99). Why? Because Scripture gives us insight into reality: the way things really are. There, we find God’s perspective on things, not just man’s opinion. Armed with God’s Word, we are not left to guessing and speculation, at least not on topics about which God has spoken.
We have talked about some of the benefits of getting into God’s Word, but those benefits will never be yours until you make daily time with God a habit. Here are some pointers on how to do so: (1) Select a specific time. The best time to have a quiet time is when you are at your best. Select the time when you are most alert. But whatever time you set, be consistent. (2) Choose a special place. Wherever it is, it needs to be place where you can focus and concentrate, and give God your undivided attention. (3) Gather the resources you’ll need. (Bible, pen, notebook, highlighters, etc.) (4) Begin with right attitudes: Reverence (Ps. 111:10), expectancy (Psalm 119:18), and willingness to obey (John 7:17). (5) Follow a simple plan.
Let’s look at how to overcome some potential problems in establishing the habit of Bible study: (1) The problem of discipline: If you choose to have your time with God first thing in the morning, the dilemma you will face is the problem of the blankets. So, plan to go to bed on time and get up immediately. (2) A second problem you will have to deal with is the problem of distractions. You can avoid them by reading and praying aloud, walking during your prayer time, and keeping a “to-do” list and pencil handy. (3) The Problem of diligence. Developing a habit requires diligence—especially at the beginning. You have to overcome a lot of negative inertia. Here are some suggestions for encouraging diligence: Make a covenant or vow to God. Schedule it on your daily calendar. Be prepared for Satan’s excuses.
Application / Challenge
Develop the habit of spending time daily in God’s Word. If you don’t already have a plan, consider using the “Digging Deeper” section to each week’s Talking Points, Walking Points.