It was nearly 8 o’clock–that part of the morning when you’re scrambling to find shoes and fill lunchboxes. My husband was pouring an extra cup of coffee before driving our third grader to school.
“How was the gym this morning?” I asked him while I cleaned the baby from a breakfast he decided was beneath him.
“It’s mid-March,” my husband sighed. “I’m already feeling tired of my disciplines—the gym, eating right, even my Bible study feels dull.”
Our oldest piped in with his seventeenth “I’m tired” declaration of the morning while roaming the house in the snailish way that kids do when they have been warned for the tenth time to get your shoes on for the love of all that is holy or so help me I’ll throw away every electronic gadget you’ve ever touched.
“You have no idea what tired is, Son,” I quipped back to him. “You slept for ten straight hours last night. I got up with your little brother five times between the hours of 11 and 2. I’M tired.”
And to be frank, I am. I laid in bed from 6:06 am to 6:22 am wondering if I could keep my eyes open long enough to read anything in my Bible. Eventually the responsible, motherish side of the argument won, and I practically held my eyelids open with my fingers while I read 1 Timothy 3 this morning. Am I really sitting here reading about qualifications for elders and deacons when I could be sleeping? Am I really absorbing anything useful?
But I know that if I keep reading Paul’s letters to Timothy I’ll find Paul’s emphasis on the usefulness of Scripture because every word is inspired by God and equips us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:14-17). And for those reasons, I needed the reminder to keeping going.
It’s mid-March, folks.
And this is the classic era of lapse when it comes to disciplines, both physical and spiritual. I can’t speak much to the physical discipline part since I’ve exercised approximately three times in 2017 as sick kids, travel, and surgery have been the dominant themes of my year thus far. But, I can speak to the part where we all struggle to keep up our resolution to study the Word regularly. Back in January, I encouraged you to allow the new year to be a catalyst for setting up healthy spiritual disciplines. Now we’re at the point where you might need a little nudge to press on. If you began the year in Genesis and you’re now in Leviticus or Numbers in your Bible reading plan, you might be tempted to throw in the towel. Moldy walls? Weird physical ailments that make you blush? Incredibly long lists of names and genealogies? How can this be helpful for personal growth in Christ? What’s the point of pressing on when what you’re reading seems so far removed from your own life?
This is when it’s helpful to take a step back and look at what you’re currently reading in light of the entire Bible. Wading through the oddness of Leviticus? Look for the emphasis on holiness and the works of the priests. Consider how this prepared the people of God for the coming of Jesus who is our Great High Priest. Maybe you could read Leviticus in tandem with Hebrews, noting the way Jesus fulfilled the Law and put an end to our need for the sacrificial system. Compare and contrast the differences in living under the Law with living under the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus. Stuck looking for purpose in the long lists of names and people groups? Note the broad sovereignty of God over both the nations and the meticulous details of the institution of the sacrificial system for Israel.
Remember the goal is to see God in all of Scripture.
You’re looking for what you can learn about Him, what the Scriptures reveal about man, how even those unusual Old Testament passages point to Jesus, and how we can find application for our own life as believers. (Here is a detailed method and video demo for this process if you need a guide.) The endgame is not checking off a list but rather, knowing the God we claim to love so much. Growth and fruit come from long seasons spent in the Word, loving the Lord by knowing Him and keeping His commandments. We can’t really look at the last week of Bible study and prayer and marvel at our growth. This is a long-term investment, and six months (or a year, or two years) down the road you’ll be able to look back and see how much you’ve learned and grown in both your faith and affection for the Lord.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, and you know that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ~2 Timothy 3: 14-17
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