It is exciting to know that God has a clear desire for his people. He wants us to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
Last week we were reminded that one way God grows us to be like Jesus is through his Word. As I thought about the many ways God’s Word grows us I was reminded of something the 17th Century English church leader Richard Baxter wrote:
The reading of the word of God, and the explication and application of it in good books, is a means to possess the mind with sound, orderly, and working apprehensions of God, and of his holy truths: so that in such reading our understandings are oft illuminated with a heavenly light, and our hearts are touched with a special delightful relish of that truth; and they are secretly attracted and engaged unto God and all the powers of our souls are excited and animated to a holy obedient life.
Sadly, it is not only the language that seems dated as we read such a quote! Sometimes the Bible reading itself seems very outdated. The modern church has many things going for it but few people would say piety is one of them.
So, let’s imagine for a second (hopefully that won’t be too hard) that Baxter was right. What if the reading of the Bible illuminated our minds with a heavenly light and touched our hearts with a special delight as we hear our Heavenly Father speak to us? Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing?
It seems to me that Baxter is simply expressing what the Bible itself says about God’s Word. Psalm 119, the longest Psalm of the Bible, expresses the delight that God’s people can find in his Word. For example verses 105-112:
Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.
I have solemnly sworn to keep Your righteous judgments.
I am severely afflicted; LORD, give me life through Your word.
LORD, please accept my willing offerings of praise, and teach me Your judgments.
My life is constantly in danger, yet I do not forget Your instruction.
The wicked have set a trap for me, but I have not wandered from Your precepts.
I have Your decrees as a heritage forever; indeed, they are the joy of my heart.
I am resolved to obey Your statutes to the very end.
If a week has passed, and your best laid plans from last Sunday to get back into the Bible haven’t quite worked out, then let me give you some bible reading baby steps to get you going.
Find a friend, maybe grab a coffee, and read together through Psalm 119. When you finish, ask each other: (1) What has delighted you from God’s Word in Psalm 119? (2) What have you learnt about God? and (3) How does this point you to Jesus?