“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
~ Romans 10:17 ~
It is impossible to overstate the importance of God’s Word. Through his Word he created the heavens and the earth. Through his Word he promises, edifies, encourages, corrects, and disciplines. And through his Word he re-creates: calling and reconciling a people to him. The testimony within God’s Word speaks to its fundamental importance in our lives, as does the testimony through the centuries of the Church. The bible ought to be that which creates, and primarily sustains, God’s people. And yet, many Christians struggle to make the time for bible reading and reflection. More books than ever are now published, more than 4 million in the U.S. in 2019 alone, but our reading habits are in decline. Pop culture has certainly drawn many away from general literature reading, but even ideas are often engaged with differently as podcasts and social media replace more serious reading.
None of these things other forms of engagement are wrong in themselves, so long as we continue to make God’s Word central to our lives in study and devotion. We cannot hope to “understand the things freely given to us by God (1 Corinthians 2:12)” if we do not abide in his Word. My concern is that the Church’s bible reading habits mirror the reading habits of society. We have never had so many discipleship resources available to us, but reading books or listening to podcasts aboutthe bible should never replace reading the bible itself. If you are one who struggles with scripture devotion I want to encourage you to commit to growing in this discipline. Thankfully, there are wonderful resources to help you read, study, and understand the bible faithfully. Before we get to reading, perhaps you struggle with anysort of reading. Then consider an audio bible. There are many free versions of the bible that can be listened to through your various devices. For those who are reading challenged, an audio bible is a great way to hear and learn God’s Word. One good free source for audio bible translations is biblegateway.com. Besides the bible itself, biblegateway also offers reading plans, devotional aids, and scripture engagement tools.
For confident readers looking for better biblical engagement I commend the Logos bible software from Faithlife. There are numerous levels within their subscription service, but even the free version is excellent and includes numerous translations, Greek and Hebrew help, a bible dictionary, devotionals, and commentaries. The free download version even includes a built-in training course to help you master the software.