We all make New Year’s Resolutions every year that goes something like the following:
— “This year is finally the year I’m going to read the Bible the whole way through.” – New Year’s Resolution on January 1
But in reality, this is what ends up happening:
— “Looks like I’m just not going to be able to read the Bible all the way through this year.” – New Year’s Reality on January 11
These are the conversations that a pastor hears or likely discerns from his congregation the beginning of every year. While the occurrence is quite common, I’d like to offer (maybe) a different slant on how to think about the actual goal of reading the Bible in a year.
Reading the Bible in a year, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. However, the end goal should not just be reading the Bible all the way through. Further, the end should not just be learning all the stories in the Bible. While these are important features of reading the Bible, there is a deeper (quite obvious) goal in reading the Bible in a year.
In John 5:39 Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” In this one verse Jesus provides us the end goal in Bible reading. It is not just to “check the box” that we read the Bible that day, it’s not just to know the stories of the Bible, instead, we are to understand that the Scriptures are written to “bear witness about” Jesus. Therefore, the goal in Bible reading is to look for Christ in the Scriptures; then, after we have seen Him in the Scriptures, to love, adore, and savor Him more.
So, if I could re-write everyone’s New Year’s Resolutions every single year, I would write it this way:
–“This year I want to commune with Jesus more than I did last year.”
Perhaps this is too simple, but in the end, it is the real ultimate goal that all Christians should have.
Therefore, here are 3 Intentional Means to Pursue Communion with Jesus. (these 3 are not exhaustive, but quite biblical)
(1.) Devote yourselves to corporate and private constant PRAYER.
Have you noticed that this is a way the Bible describes prayer? Three times in Acts the Bible says that we should devote ourselves to prayer. (below)
Acts 1:14 – All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
Acts 2:42 – And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Acts 6:4 – But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.
Here is the key: Prayer takes devotion. If we truly want to commune with Jesus, we must devote ourselves to prayer. The Bible uses the word “devote” signifying to us it is a work. It feels tough to do, because IT IS tough to do.
This is why the Bible encourages us to pray at all times during the day. For example, “pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” (Ephesians 6:18)
So how do you do this? Be intentional to pray everyday. Make it a massive priority over all things – definitely over entertainment. At one point in Martin Luther’s life someone told him they had too much to do, they didn’t have time to pray. To which Martin Luther famously said, “I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.”
We must learn to see prayer as the most powerful and efficient use of your time. If you want a close relationship with Jesus, you can have it, but you must cultivate that relationship through conversation and prayer.
(2.) Give yourself to deep THINKING.
Deep thinking, or Christian Meditation as J. I. Packer calls it, is an important feature for Christians to adopt and practice for communion with Jesus. Packer in his famous work Knowing God writes,
“Christian people suffer grievously from their ignorance of the practice. Christian Mediation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to one’s self, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is an activity of HOLY thought consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God. It’s purpose is to clear one’s mental and spiritual vision of God and to let His Truth make its full and proper impact in one’s mind and heart.”
In our fast-paced, 140 character, drive through, microwave, high-speed internet, 4G LTE, go go go world, it is quite important for Christians to slow down, take time and think on the deep things of God. They should meditate on the works, ways, purposes and promises of God in order to commune with Jesus.
The Bible encourages us to do this. (listed are just a few verses among many in the Bible)
Psalm 77:12 – I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Psalm 64:9 – tell what God has brought about and ponder what he has done.
Psalm 101:2-4 – I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.
Psalm 143:5-6 – I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah
So how do you do this? Read. Spend more time reading books than watching Netflix. Read the old saints that have gone before us and provided us a wealth of material. (see below for a suggested list) Further, have deep conversations with others. Talk about important things with your family and people in the church.
(3.) DEPEND on the Word EVERYDAY to See Jesus and live.
John Piper writes, “I have a burden that we get beyond propositions and Bible verses to Christ. I do not mean “get around” Bible verses, but “through” Bible verses to Christ, to the person, the living person, to know Him, cherish Him, treasure Him, enjoy Him, trust Him, be at home with Him. I want to count Him more to be desired than all other things — wife, husband, children, success in career, leisure, vacations, health, food, sex, money. He’s more precious. Bible reading is meant to deepen our personal relationship with Christ.”
If Christians truly believe that 2 Timothy 3:16 is true – that the Scriptures are “breathed out by God” – then we must be deeply burdened to read and study the Scriptures in order to see Jesus. The Scriptures are the place where you will most clearly see Him, and experience Him, and savor Him for who He is, what He has done for you.
So how do you do read the Bible everyday? Press into the beauty of the Gospel and enhance your gratitude to Jesus for it.
May we keep the most important “resolution” we can make this year – to press into seeing and savoring Jesus Christ.
Suggested Reading List:
Soul Winner – Charles Spurgeon
Mere Christianity – C. S. Lewis
Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ – John Piper
God is the Gospel – John Piper
Gospel Wakefulness – Jared Wilson
Think – John Piper
The Pursuit of God – A. W. Tozer
Knowing God – J. I. Packer
The Explicit Gospel – Matt Chandler
Lectures to my Students – Charles Spurgeon
Cost Of Discipleship – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The Cross of Christ – John Stott
The Pursuit of Holiness – Jerry Bridges
The Reason for God – Tim Keller
Biblical Foundations For Baptist Churches – John Hammett
Meaning of Marriage – Tim Keller
Future Grace – John Piper
Systematic Theology (or Bible Doctrine) – Wayne Grudem
 John Piper. http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/why-we-read-the-bible