[CF Devotionals] 2011-07-06 - THE Best Book

Ps 119: 11 Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You. (NASB)
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (NASB)

Question to Consider: How do you feel about Bible reading? What needs to be different, to help you feel more excited about spending time each day in God's Word? How does regular Bible reading help you grow spiritually? What happens when you don't spend time in the Word?

I love to read. To me, enjoying a good book or magazine is a great way to relax and get my mind off day-to-day life. It is also a way to learn new things and "expand my horizons," as they say. I picked up this love of reading from my family. My parents are both avid readers, and always made it a point to read  bedtime stories to my sister and me when we were young. Now, she reads to her kids the same way. My 81-year old grandmother reads a couple novels a week, and has, for as long as I can remember. Giving books as gifts for birthdays and Christmas is common in my family, and we often talk about the things we're reading.

I keep a stack of library books on hand, and am always in the process of  reading at least two at a time. I like to be involved in a couple of different kinds of books, so I can switch back and forth, depending on my mood. I might be working on a mystery and a memoir at the same time, or maybe a family saga and a short story collection. I'm fairly picky and have gotten pretty good at "judging a book by its cover," I think. I enjoy most of the books I start. Every now and then, though, I'll think, "This book just isn't very good."  Sometimes, I just don't buy the plot or the characters. Other times, I think the writing is sloppy and doesn't flow well.

For the past couple weeks, I've been plodding through such a book. This story had some decent moments, but overall, I thought it was really "lame." I happened to be running low on reading material when I started it, and wasn't sure it would be of much interest to me from the beginning, but wanted to give the story a chance. I wish I'd gone with my first instinct and not bothered. Once I start a book, though, it has to be really bad for me to not finish it, so I saw this one through to the end. I was glad when I finally finished it, earlier today.

I thought several times about giving up on it, and wouldn't have missed much if I had. If I'd let go of it, I could have moved on to something better much sooner. I don't have as much read for pleasure time as I used to, so I don't have a lot of patience for the occasional times when I just plain don't care for a particular book. Maybe I need to be less rigid about my "must finish it" policy. I have to admit to being kind of aggravated with myself, for wasting read time on a book that just wasn't holding my interest.

Fortunately, the Bible is one book that can't disappoint us. It is God's personal communication with us, and reading it is never a waste of time. THE Bible is entertaining and exciting. There are plenty of great true stories in both the Old and New Testaments, that are full of compelling characters and interesting plot twists. These stories are one way God teaches us through His Word. There is no other book on Earth that contains such a fascinating and diverse collection of writings and writers. And yet all of the pieces fit together to reveal the ultimate story of God's love and God's plan.

Some parts are easier to read than others, and may even seem more interesting, but we need to become familiar with the whole Book, as every part is important. The Bible is God's message to us. It is how He lets us know who He is, and how we can know Him better and do His will. There are lots of famous authors out there, but only one Book was authored by God Himself.

Some people are intimidated by the Bible and don't know where to start reading.  If starting at the beginning seems fitting to you, Genesis is certainly exciting, and teaches us a lot about how humanity and God have gone about things from the beginning. If starting with Jesus makes the most sense to you, why not try one of the four Gospels? Proverbs is full of wise thoughts and teachings, and Revelations tells us how things will be when all is said and done. There's no "right" way to read the Bible, and you don't have to read it from cover to cover. Just reading a few minutes a day will help you begin to  get into the habit, and you'll learn something new every day. The more you read the Bible, the more comfortable you will feel reading it, and the more familiar it will become. It's kind of like getting to know a new friend. Some people read a chapter or two from the Old Testament, and a chapter or two from the New Testament, each day.

If you find the Bible hard to understand, pray that God would give you understanding. He doesn't want you to feel confused or frustrated. He wants to speak to you through His Word. Find a translation that is written in every day English. Some people get the Bible on CD, so they can listen in the car, while cooking dinner or exercising, etc. Some people keep several translations around, because they like to read the same passage in slightly different wording - to get a richer understanding of what is being said. You might like to make use of a reader-friendly Bible commentary, or get involved in a Bible study about a topic that interests you. If you hear a sermon or read a devotion with a passage that catches your attention, go back and reread it in your own Bible, and read the verses before and after the passage that was referred to. This way, you can get a feel for the context. Jot down questions about things you don't understand, so you can discuss them with a church leader or spiritual mentor, or do more research on them later.

There are a lot of good books, but none have as much to offer as the Good Book.

Lord, thank You for Your Word. Help us to be excited about studying it, and about what You have to teach us. Thank You for communicating with us through the Bible. Please forgive us for the times when we don't read or study it as we should. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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