1 Timothy 4:7-8 reminds us that the purpose of spiritual discipline is Godliness. The foundational spiritual discipline is the daily intake of God’s Holy Word.
“The alternative to discipline is disaster.” – Vance Havner
No spiritual discipline is more important, more basic and more broad than the intake of God’s Word. (John17:17)
The Bible tells us about…
- His character
- His nature
- His law
- His love
- Why you sin
- How you may be saved.
- How to live in a way that glorifies God and satisfies yourself.
“God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him!” – John Piper
Therefore, if you are to know God, if you are to be Godly, you must learn and live the word of God! The easiest way to intake God’s Word is to hear it.
Hearing the Bible
- Luke 11:28 – “Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.”
The purpose is obedience and Christlikeness (which is godliness), but the method encouraged by Jesus is hearing His Word.
- Romans 10:17 – “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Initial faith in Christ comes from hearing the inspired Word about Jesus Christ, and much of the faith that believers need for day – to – day living comes from hearing the Bible’s message. Gifts of faith are often given to those who discipline themselves to hear the Word of God. There are many ways to hear God’s Word: radio programs, TV programs, podcasts, or CDs (Remember those?). But the best way for you to hear God’s Word is by faithfully attending a local, Bible-believing, Bible-preaching church, and participating in that church as a member.
- 1 Timothy 4:13 – “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
It was then, and is now, important for God’s people to hear God’s Word. The ongoing worship of God cannot be separated from God’s Word. We are to discipline ourselves to hear and obey the Word of God. Please note: hearing the Word of God is not merely passive listening, it is a discipline to be cultivated.
Reading the Bible
A second way in which to intake God Word is to read it. Jesus assumed that those who claimed to be the people of God would read the Word of God! Just as the following passages indicate.
- Matthew 4:4
- 2 Timothy 3:16
- Revelation 1:3
Three practical suggestions for successful daily Bible reading.
(1) Find the time. This is primarily a matter of discipline and motivation.
(2) Find a Bible reading plan. A good plan will include variety. By that I mean daily reading from different sections of the Bible. Many who want to read through the Bible become confused in Leviticus, discouraged in Numbers, and quit by Deuteronomy. It is easier to maintain momentum—and build it up—by reading in more than one place each day.
(3) Meditate on at least one word, phrase, or verse of what you read. This aids application. The more you apply the truth of Scripture, the more you will become like Jesus Christ.
Studying the Bible
A third way to take in God’s Word is by studying it.
“Reading gives us breadth, but study gives us depth.” – Jerry Bridges
Some Biblical examples:
- Ezra 7:10
- John 17:17
- Acts 17:11
- 2 Timothy 2:15; 4:13
There are two general reasons why we do not study God’s Word:
Many of us are too lazy to put in the effort of studying our Bibles. There are also many of us who are intimidated by the prospect. Let us be neither. The basic difference between Bible reading and Bible study is simply a pencil and a piece of paper.
“We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because its dull and boring, but because its work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or…passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.” – R.C. Sproul
Ask yourself a couple of questions:
- If your Godliness was measured by the quality of your Bible intake habits, what would be the result?
- What is one thing you can do to improve your intake of God’s Word?
Admit to God that there has been a lack of this spiritual discipline in your life. Ask the Lord to give you the desire and the direction necessary to motivate you to the daily intake of God’s Word – hearing, reading, and studying.
Godliness is the goal of spiritual discipline. Remember this, and the disciplines will become a delight instead of a drudgery!