“Other books were given for our information — the Bible was given for our transformation.”
— Source unknown.
You will hear a lot of words today: words from family and friends; words from the worlds of radio and TV. You will probably read a lot of words today: words in newspapers, magazines, and books; words on computers and iPods. Nearly 100 percent of the words you will hear and read will not be remembered. Most will come from people you will never meet and from sources grounded in secularism and selfishness. Do not despair. You have the unparalleled privilege of reading God‟s inspired, inerrant, infallible Word in Holy Scriptures and hearing from God through prayer. All believers, including those who are new in the faith and those who have walked with God for many years, need to read from the scriptures daily because the Bible is a living word. As believers, we must remember that “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4, NIV). To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to be intimately involved with Him as a person. It defies logic to say, “I am a follower — a disciple, but I do not know my Master or His teachings.” The Holy Spirit was poured out upon the early church for the purpose of revealing Jesus as He is: alive and powerful and making His Word live. One of the most interesting verses in the Bible is found in Acts 4:13: “When they [rulers, elders, and teachers of the law] saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Some time had elapsed since Jesus had ascended, yet the unbelieving leaders of the temple came to the conclusion the disciples had been with Jesus. What made these men who followed Jesus so powerful and Christlike? The secret was in the disciples‟ daily communion with God. A “prayerless disciple” is a conflict in terms — an oxymoron, an impossibility. Prayer is the only way man can have a living relationship with God. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ, it is not only necessary to know Him personally but also to be a student of all His teachings. What a marvelous gift every believer possesses — the Word of God. To think any believer at any time can have a word from the Lord is incredible, yet the study and reading of God‟s Word does not seem to be a high priority in the daily lives of many American Christians. The reason Bible study is such a high priority in our emphasis on discipleship is because it serves as the source of absolute truth in a day of relativity. It is the moral compass in the midst of a lost, immoral world; and most importantly, it is the living Word from the living God to those who have spiritual life. The Bible is our manual for faith and practice. There has never been a greater need for every believer to establish a personal time alone with God and His Word. The fact is the world has entirely too much input into the minds of believers. The average Christian life is becoming increasingly secular in thought which in turn manifests itself in godless lifestyles. With today‟s busy schedules, one way to get people into the Word and on their knees is through appealing to them through providing incentives to do so through testimonies of busy people who have a consistent devotional life, beginning with the wonderful benefits of prayer and the Word.
For instance, during his presidency, George W. Bush stated that he read the Bible through “from front to back every year, maintained a steady prayer life, and read from a devotional classic each day.” It would be hard for anyone to use a lack of time as an excuse not to insist upon a significant period of time each day for intimacy with God. Pastors can start Bible reading programs by challenging everyone to read the Bible through in a year or two along with the rest of the church by using reading guides or One Year Bibles in a good, modern translation. God‟s Word for Today is a wonderful tool to help your congregation hear from God on a daily basis. Each day there is a brief but powerful devotional with spiritual insight and a practical application to meet the challenges of the day. The devotional is designed to encourage us in our Christian walk by forming the habit of maintaining a daily spiritual regimen of Bible reading and prayer to aid in growth as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. It includes a Bible reading guide to keep your congregation on track with a goal of reading the Bible through in a one – year period. If we are to see strong disciples develop in our churches, then individual Bible study and personal devotion are absolute musts. All of us who live in the culture understand the demands placed upon people, but a vast majority of those demands are not of God; they are from a world that is desperately trying to press Christians into its mold. Pastors and responsible leaders in discipleship must first show the way and then believe people will follow. It should come as no secret that the whole kingdom of God is contrary to the kingdoms of the world; but the very nature of faith is victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil.