Yes, He loves the people; all His saints are in Your hand; they sit down at Your feet; everyone receives Your words. Deuteronomy 33:3
A love for the Word of God is essential to a healthy Christian life. How can such a love be nurtured? I’d like to offer some practical advice after seventy years of personal experience. But first, it would be helpful if you took a few moments to read Psalm 119:97-104.
If we are to cultivate a love for the Scriptures, it is essential that we learn to:
Appreciate their Value
“Do you understand what you are reading?” That is the question an evangelist put to a man who was searching for the truth in the Scriptures as he rode home in his chariot (Acts 8:29). He learned much as a result because the Holy Spirit sent Philip to lead him to the Christ. But also contributing to his coming to understand and believe was his obvious respect for the rare scroll of Isaiah he held in his hands.
In our day, we have all the other scrolls as well. The Scriptures are complete and available to us in a compact form. On the cover of most copies are the words The Holy Bible. We believe it, don’t we? As evangelicals, we are prepared to stand for the fact that we have the Word of God in our hands. But our ability to understand and benefit from what we might frequently read (I am hoping that is true of you) depends on more than an orthodox view of inspiration. The thoughts of the wealthy Ethiopian referred to above were not, at that moment, focused on the things he would face when he arrived back in his country, and the duties of his office and home would press in on him again. Nor was he distracted by having to watch the desert road, for he was riding in, not driving, the chariot! He chose to use this opportunity to search in his precious scroll for answers to his question(s). God met him at that point, a principle that holds true for you today. The Holy Spirit might or might not provide you with a human instructor, but either way, He is pledged to meet your need. This proverb applies: “them that seek me early [or earnestly] shall find me” (Prov. 8:17). I am drawing your attention to the importance of unrolling those sacred scrolls in an appropriate frame of mind. They deserve the deepest reverence and respect.
Find the Time
In his day, King David had a priority and vowed he would not give sleep to his eyes until he had found a place for the Lord (Ps. 132:4-5). More than once, that principle has prompted me to use the earliest opportunity to get alone with God and His Word. If you work different shifts or are a mother on call to cater to a variety of needs at unexpected moments, the same time and place on a regular basis is not always a choice you can make. I was shifted frequently from one location and responsibility to another in the armed forces. That made it necessary for me to plan ahead. I discovered that it is always possible to find a way to fit in an activity that you value. If you are more alert after the children are in bed, set aside a time and place between supper and 10:30 p.m. If you are a morning person, you still have to make sure you get the number of hours of sleep your body requires before you begin. Whatever the case, plan ahead in order to make sure the Word of God is given the time it deserves.
But perhaps you are a mature Christian and have already worked your way through this. Assuming this to be the case, how is it that many of us still prejudice our “morning watch” by allowing ourselves to sit up too late?
Control the Competition
Psalm 94:19 reads, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me Thy comforts delight my soul.” A great variety of ideas have to be processed by us every day. Often, they arrive at the door of our minds without invitation; and, if the door is ajar, they push it open and invite their relatives in as well. Thus, news of a friend’s illness might begin with concern; but then all sorts of possibilities are entertained, and fretting and worrying settle in. We need to meet them all at the door and say, “I will attend to you later, but right now I am talking with Someone else.” Wonder of wonders! You open the door later to find that most of them have left! That principle was one that the early Christians employed to silence rising fears in Acts 4:23-30. Their prior knowledge of the Scriptures, and the spirit of worship with which they applied them to the rising storm, produced peace in their hearts, enabling them to discern the will of God and to pray with absolute confidence. Such conquests as this are not the reward of the casual reader.
Develop an Appetite
Did you notice verse 103 in the recommended reading above? “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Does that reflect your experience and mine? Obviously, such a testimony will never be ours if we are in the habit of hurriedly snatching a portion of the Word as we gulp down our morning coffee and hurry off to work, or limit our “Bible reading” to a pre-digested devotional thought from someone else. Do you say, “It is better than nothing”? The danger, of course, is that we may be deceived into thinking—guaranteed.