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Practice These Things

May 18, 2018

Have you ever wondered why some preachers (like me) speak so much about having a daily quiet time and encouraging every believer to spend some time in God’s Word every day? Does it really make that much of a difference?

There are all kinds of reasons that people give for not studying God’s Word on their own. “I don’t know where to start”. “When I read it myself, I don’t really understand it.” “I don’t like to read.” “When I start to read, my mind wanders”. All of those are legitimate concerns, but they are not good reasons when you consider God has made His Word a priority.

What does God’s Word say about reading His Word? Let’s look at one passage from Paul’s writing to Timothy,

I Timothy 4:13-16, 13 Until I come, give your attention to public reading, exhortation, and teaching. 14 Don’t neglect the gift that is in you; it was given to you through prophecy, with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. 15 Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Paul is instructing this young preacher that the reading of Scripture, the preaching, and the teaching are of high priority. Paul implores them to do this until he returns to them, but honestly, it could be stated with the same emphasis as if it was stated by Jesus Himself, telling all of His church to keep the focus on the Word.

You may say, “this speaks to the public gatherings, to church services, bible studies, and the like.” I wouldn’t disagree with that statement – that must be a priority, and this is another illustration of how important it is very every believer to be dedicated to a local church.

However, I believe we also have to look at that verse in context. In verse 16, Paul tells Timothy to pay close attention to his life and teaching, to persevere in it, for in doing this he will save both his own life and that of his hearers.

So, what is the justification here for the individual to read the Word of God on his own? I’m so glad you asked. Consider these questions…

How important is it for the believer to really know God? Is there a better way to really know who God is than to know His Word? If the Holy Spirit is our Teacher and Counselor, isn’t prayer really only the application of what we’ve learned in His Word?

Let’s take it a step further… If preachers and teachers like Timothy are supposed to stay in the Word so diligently so they will teach the pure truth accurately, and if we have all been called to “go ye therefore”, isn’t it then important that we, as empowered missionaries of the Gospel, know the Word of God?

The Word of God is to be preached and taught in the local church to empower the body to do the work of the church, inside and outside of the church. To that end, we must know what it is we are to be sharing and living out, therefore we must have a growing knowledge of the Word.

Convinced yet?

What about those concerns we dealt with at the beginning of this? Let’s take those one by one. Certainly this is not an exhaustive list, but hopefully this will address some general concerns and hesitations people have about reading God’s Word on their own.

“I don’t know where to start”. Honestly, I can see where this is a concern for some. The Bible is a big book and there is so much area to cover. The main thing is, just start. Take a small chunk at a time and don’t worry about the mileage you cover, just cover what you cover well. I often encourage people to start in the Psalms, but don’t restrict your reading to that. Take a small book of the New Testament, like one of Paul’s epistles, and read a few verses or chapters a day. Maybe even journal your thoughts about what it says. The main thing is, just start.

“When I read it myself, I don’t really understand it.” I get this too. My first counsel is to take it slowly, even if it’s one verse each day that you read a number of times. There are a number of study Bibles with great notes and other resources which can help you too. I would also suggest that before you read, you ask God to give you understanding.

“I don’t like to read”. This is perhaps the number one reason people give for not reading on their own. I get it. Reading is hard for some people. Some have trouble comprehending or focusing on what they read. Others just flat don’t enjoy it. There are Bible apps which will read the Word to you, if you are one who would rather listen to it than read it. As God to give you a desire for it.

“When I start to read, my mind wanders”. Even as many years as I have been reading The Word, I still have this happen to me at times too. Sometimes I have to catch myself and then go back and read again. God’s Word is too important for me to take it for granted or just to check the box that says “read today”. Remove distractions, get in the right environment for you. Do it when your mind is fresh (for me it starts before 6 in the morning most days). 

2 Timothy 2:15, Be diligent to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth.

I pray God gives you a rich time in His Word, every day of your life.

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

From → Blog Posts, Podcasts

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