Steeping in the Bible
Habits of Grace series
As a part of our Habits of Grace series here at Bethel, we spent this past Sunday considering the significant place the Bible should have in the life of a Christ-follower. We examined Colossians 3:15-18 (particularly 16), which reads:
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
We were rightly exhorted by Pastor Steve to increase prioritizing Bible time in our lives. To compliment this, Bible scholar and author David Mathis punches this point when he writes: “Without the Bible, we will soon lose the genuine gospel and the real Jesus and the true God. For now, if we are to saturate our lives with the words of life, we must be people of the Book [the Bible].”i How significant this is! As followers of Christ, with whom God wants a genuine relationship, if not friendship, we should desire to know Him and His grace-based offer of salvation as deeply and personally as possible. That is what people in relationship(s) do—know one another. The Bible is a primary means of knowing God for who He is. As such, we must be “people of the Book.”ii
Additionally, through the writing of Paul in Colossians (above), we are encouraged to create the space to not just read, but dwell on the words of the Bible as the very thoughts and words of God Himself (John 1:1)! This is a very specific thing.
To dwell is to: “remain for a time; to live as a resident; exist [with], to keep the attention of; to speak or write incessantly about.”iii
Pastor Steve this past Sunday, and the Apostle Paul in Colossians 3:16, both unpack for us that God’s Word should be a sought-after component of our lives. As the definition above notes, the Bible should: “take up some of our time; reside with us; exist with us; captivate our attention; be spoken of and written about incessantly by us.”
What does dwelling mean practically then? A few examples…
· Prioritizing the Bible and steeping in it should be a scheduled, consistent part of our lives. No day should ever be complete without Bible-time of some kind.
· The Bible, whether physical (paper), digital, or audio, should be a known (existing) fixture in our lives; so much so that other people should know the Bible, and time with it, holds this place of value in our lives.
· As Christians, we should say no to other things, even other good things, so that we can say yes to Bible-time (it should be that captivating to us). We must prioritize the best things (relationship with and knowing God) over only good things.
· We should be talking, posting, tweeting, sharing, dropping stories about, thinking about, and pondering the application of, the Bible every day. Share what we are learning. What Jesus is doing in, through, and around us is of much higher value than anything else.
This would be an easy spot to stop. But, as a fellow believer (as opposed to a Bethel pastor), I thought I would close this article by sharing what this looks like for me in everyday life. I suspect we may have some of the same time and priority struggles. For me…
· My Bible time is in the early morning. I get up between 6:30 and 7:30am most days, depending on the day, and start by either listening to the Bible or reading it. For the last two weeks I have been reading, studying, and meditating on Ecclesiastes.
· I always have a plan. When I don’t plan my reading in advance, I am more prone “to phone it in” (likely more about this next week). · I typically read another book in the early morning as well. Something like this, this, or this. I enjoy these types of books. They’re biblically focused and feed my soul.
o Don’t pick a book like this if it does not feed your soul. Pick things that will be helpful and encouraging for you.
· Most mornings I have a few text-groups of people I message/send Bible thoughts to: my small group (hey fam!), my close pastoral colleagues here and around the world, and my closest friends/family back in Kansas City. These are life-giving times of communication surrounding biblical things. And they help keep me focused on them throughout the day as the thread takes life and others share their thoughts as well.
· I post, share, like, retweet, share, a lot of biblical thought. I talk about Star Wars, Batman, and counseling too. But I post a lot of biblical thought because it is what I am thinking about.
I could go on, but I hope you see my point. The above is how I start my day, and subsequently characterizes much of it. On the days I do not engage in the above, it makes a difference—and that difference is not good. So—I encourage you to look and see how you might start to steep in God’s Word in a personalized way that will bring needed, new life and enhanced relationship with God.
Final note: as we continue in this Habits of Grace series, we cannot encourage you enough to join a small group, engage in the companion curriculum, and take this time to get better connected with others doing these same things! It will be worth it!
i Mathis, D. (2016). Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus Through Spiritual Disciplines. Crossway, p. 39.