These statistics make the prophecy in the book of Amos very real.
“Hear this! The days are coming - this is the declaration of the Lord God - when I will send a famine through the land: not a famine of bread or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” (Amos 8:11)
I think it is interesting that as we become less concerned with personal Bible reading, the less truth we hear from the pulpits of America. It makes sense. If the people coming to church aren’t engaged in the Bible on a daily basis, they aren’t familiar with the demands of a holy God. If the preacher preaches the truth of God, it will not resonate with the people, and they likely will not keep coming back. So I begin to wonder which came first… the lack of Bible reading among the people, or the lack of Bible preaching among the preachers.
It isn’t that the word of God is not readily available. In America it comes in every color, size, and reading level. It comes with notes for hunters, soldiers, teenage girls, moms, and many other specific types of interests. It is published in magazine form. It is in audio form. It is on our cell phones. Basically, you can always choose between playing Candy Crush or reading the Bible, because they are on the same device. But we apparently choose Candy Crush… most of the time.
Then we wonder why our world falls apart. We wonder why our marriage fails. We wonder why we keep falling back into that favorite sin. We wonder why we are easily discouraged, depressed, and depleted spiritually. We are in the midst of a famine of the word of God. Not because it isn’t there, but because we aren’t taking it in. We say we want to hear from God, but we don’t do the most basic thing to find out what He is saying.
Along the way the Bible has been attacked as untrue, or antiquated. People say that it is the ramblings of authors who just wrote things about life and God from their own perspective. They say it cannot be trusted. And as we go on, more people live their lives without the life-giving wisdom ready to leap off of those pages. Paul wrote to Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) So are you going to believe the apostle Paul, or something you read by some blogger on the Huffington Post?
The Bible is hard to read, mainly for people who don’t read it. And I will guarantee you that if you don’t read it, it will be impossible to read it. This is a growing problem in a time when many people do not read well, or do not read at all. But with the advancements that have given us the audio version of Scripture on our phones, reading problems are not an excuse for not getting into the Bible. Trust me… not reading the Bible is harder than reading the Bible.
I also readily realize that the Bible is a spiritual work, with a spiritual enemy. Satan does not want you to read the Bible. I’d say if we interviewed the Devil and asked him, “What 5 things do you wish people would not do?” reading the Bible would make the list. He knows the power of the word of God. Jesus used it over and over again when He put the smack down on the enemy of our soul.
The Bible is not a magical book. But it is a transformational book… and that is better than magic. Reading the Bible will improve your life. It even improves the lives of non-believers who read it. That’s how powerful it is. But the same Spirit of God who inspired men to write it down will also speak to you as you read it. It is His word, and He wants you to get it.
The psalmist said, “The entirety of Your word is truth.” (Psalm 119:160) There is no area of life into which the Bible does not speak. And if it only speaks truth, there is something there for you today. I challenge you to read a portion of Scripture every day for a month and see what happens. If you don’t know where to start, simply open it up and start reading. It is better to read without a plan than to have a plan to not read. Or you could read this devotional every day for a month. You know it will always include a section of Scripture.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.