Don’t Read Your Bible
Lysa TerKeurst

"Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word." Psalm 119:37 (NIV)

I have a request today. Don't read your Bible.

Does that shock you? Relieve you? Make you angry at worst? Curious at best?

Read on and see what I mean by my request.

There have been many days in my Christian journey where God was reduced to something on my to-do list. Somewhere along the way I picked up a checklist of sorts with what good Christians are supposed to do: Pray. Read your Bible. Go to church. Don't cuss. Be nice.

Being the rule following girl I am, I subscribed to the good things on that list and waited with great expectations to receive the zap of contentment and happiness good Christians girls are supposed to exude. But then I felt something was wrong me. I still felt restless. I still reacted in anger. I still felt a bit hollow.

I was going through all the motions but didn't feel connected to Jesus. Others around me seemed very connected. They would talk of being 'moved by the spirit.' They would hear from God Himself. They would clap their hands and shout amen in the middle of a sermon that sounded like Greek to me.

I often felt like a weightless soul grasping at the air hoping to somehow snag this Jesus that was just out of reach. Have you ever been there?

Have you ever sat in a church service watching everyone else eagerly flip open their Bibles to the exact right passage while you were left sweating because you didn't have a clue how to find what they were reading? Have you ever walked out of church watching everyone else smile and shake hands and seem so gentle while you mentally beat yourself up for throwing the orange juice carton across the kitchen that very morning?

Suddenly this nagging sense creeps in that you don't belong- that you'll never get it- that you don't have what it takes to be a Christian. That's where I was. I lived there for a long time until someone challenged me to stop simply reading my Bible because it was a thing on my Christian checklist. They challenged me to experience God.

In other words, look at the words in the Bible as a love letter. God's love letter to a broken down girl. A love letter not meant to simply be read... but a love letter meant to be lived.

I won't lie. It took a while. It took many days of sitting down with my Bible while praying gut honest prayers. I told God I wasn't connecting and didn't understand. I asked Him to help me. I begged Him to help me. Finally, one verse suddenly came alive to me one day. I literally felt moved when I read it. I think I read it 100 times that day. I memorized it and thought about it all day long. All week long. Maybe all month long.

I was overjoyed. I had a verse. A verse where Jesus spoke tenderly and clearly and specifically to me. It was Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper not harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope." Slowly, I added more verses. Day by day. Chapter by chapter. And eventually my Bible became my greatest treasure, my love letter.

Every day now I open up God's Word with great expectation and intentionally look in the chapter or two I read for my verse for that day. Usually one verse among the many I read during my devotion time, grabs my heart and I know was meant just for the day ahead. And then I attempt to live that verse out in some way that very day. When I make the connection between what happens in my life that day and why I needed that verse, I experience God. I see Him being active in my life and I become even more deeply aware of His constant presence.

I'm sure some Bible scholars would probably take issue with my simplistic approach. But it sure has helped me throw less orange juice cartons across the kitchen.

And 'less thrown cartons' sure seems like a step in the right direction to me.

So, back to my original statement. Don't read your Bible. In other words don't simply read it because you have to check it off the Christian to do list. Read it with great expectations of connecting more deeply and living more authentically with God.

Dear Lord, thank You for showing me the Christian life can be so much more than a checklist. I want to not only read your Word, I want to live it each day. Please give me the wisdom to understand and the courage to become more like You each day. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Lysa TerKeurst’s blog for your chance to win a copy of her new DVD teaching series featuring a session on how to study the Bible for everyday girls like us.

Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst

What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Read Psalm 119 today and make a list of some of the amazing ways God's word can help us everyday.

Each time you sit down to read your Bible, ask God specifically to help you understand and apply what you're learning.

Which of the promises from Psalm 119 touch you most personally right now?

Power Verses:
Psalm 119:15-16, "I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word."

Psalm 119:66, "Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I believe in your commands." (NIV)

© 2010 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Susan M said...

This was was written just for me!!

i didn't throw the orange jucice carton i threw a friend. i am where you where i hope i can get past it but i'm not sure i feel used and just plain spent i need friendships like they were a lifeforce just like i need air. i keep hoping to get the feeling and message that god is my friend and the only one i need i pray and pray for that but it hasn't happened i feel lost and alone i want to be a good friend and a person god would want to befriend but i'm not...

Blogger KimPossible1973 said...

I really needed this today. I always hear people say just read the Bible until you understand what it's saying, but after reading and reading & not getting a clear picture I gave up.

I will take your advice and I pray that I will feel the same about the Scriptures as you do.

Thank you!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow! i started taking a class about Christ and it has opened my understanding more to let me get beyond reading but understanding. Proverbs 31 always speaks to my heart at the right time. thank God for your talents of encouragement.

Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for the phrase "a love letter from God." I just finished my Bible study lesson from Women of Faith series."A Grand New Day." This one focused on prayer, and reminded me that prayer, like Bible reading, just doesn't belong on one's daily "to do" list. That just really cheapens our relationship with our God.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a strong believer, but I loose my temper from time to time and really beat myself up for "throwing orange juice cartons". It's encouraging to know that you once shared my struggle, but are now a strong leader. I hope to get where you are some day. God's power is made perfect in our weakness.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lysa, aww, you're awesome! Thank you sooo much for posting this blog, I loved it and yeah, it was just what I needed! Thank you, thank you, thank you! XOXO, Mel! <3

Blogger Rhonda said...

I'm excited by this! Each day, in the car on my way to work, while sitting at my desk at work, at lunch time, driving home from work, etc.- I get a yearning to know God so much more, to really KNOW God. I feel like I cannot get past the first step of learning. I have been a Christian for years and at times feel closer to God than others, but I haven't had my "hit on the forehead" experience. I get upset by this and I feel like I am faltering. I dive into the Bible thinking that if I don't get it NOW, I'll never get it and I guess that just gets in the way of me listening for God. With each little "temper tantrum" I throw, I feel it's one more step in the wrong direction. Thank you for Proverbs 31. It proves that we are all in this together and we're all here for each other.

Anonymous Rebekah said...

God really does meet you where you are. I am a big list maker. I love FlyLady (an organizational website) and I have a list for everything. Just as I was about to sit down for a quick online devotional I began to wonder why I am not excited about this "item" on my list. I eagerly DVR one of my favorite talk shows every day and can't wait to enjoy it (sans comercials) every afternoon. It is my reboot time, my me time. I realized how backwards this is for a Christian woman. Why do I not feel even more emotional about spending time with God in His word? It is because I lack connection with the work, I lack understanding of it, and I lack motivation to do anything about it. I need the Holy Spirit to guide me through this! Your devotional today was for me and it makes me feel excited about the possiblity of enjoying my time with God in His word. Thank you very much for your honesty. Honesty is so refreshing!

Blogger Kelsie said...

I think we tend to forget WHY we need to spend time in God's Word. We think we're okay, and we rely on ourselves and our own strength. Throwing the orange juice cartons and things of that sort should remind us of our sinful nature and what our tendencies are when we live in the flesh. And we are in WARFARE. How can we combat the enemy without the weapon God has given us - His Word? Satan doesn't want us in the Word, that's for sure. This is an encouraging devotional because it's crucial to the Christian walk and something we can probably all relate to. Thank you, Lysa!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too can very much relate to today's blog and it seems yet again, that Proverbs 31 has just the right word at just the right time. I have felt for a long time that I'm grasping at air and trying to snag Jesus who seems just out of reach. I often battle with the idea of opening the Bible although I do so every day and I wonder if I just don't have the diligence or sincerity of heart to cut the mustard as a Christian. But I will keep on, pressing on against the wind! As someone else has just said in the comments, this is warfare and sometimes it takes God a long time to reprogramme us!

Anonymous said...

Dear "looking..", God loves you, loves each of just as we are. The Bible says in Romans 3:23 "All have sinned...." John 3:16 says "For God SO LOVED the world (you, me)that He GAVE His only SON that whoever (you, me) believes on Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." In Matt. 7:7 it says "Ask and it shall be given you;seek and you shall find...." God is right there and He is waiting for you with His arms open wide. Believe what He says in His Word, do not believe the lies that Satan is telling you that you are not a person God would want to befriend. He has given everything for YOU, my friend. I am praying for you.

Blogger T-Reese said...

Thank You, Thank You and Thank You!!!!! I so needed to read this today. I've been feeling disconnected and I know it's because I haven't gotten into my Fathers presence. I got into a routine these past couple of days but Praise God that it's not too late to start over again.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

After an exhausting weekend with feelings and so much to deal with; thank you for the insight. I think I finally can stop and start being me and I know God says, Hey I love you and thats ok!!!!

Anonymous God's Jewel said...

WOW! This is powerful thank you sooooooo much for sharing!!!

Anonymous Prudent Knowledge said...

Unfortunately, it's just too easy to "go through the motions" and do things that "good Christians do".

But the Bible is meant to be a joy, not a burden. A blessing, not a chore. I admit I haven't been reading it as deeply as I should be. I should take this as a "Call to arms" from God to read up! :D

Hey, thanks for letting God use you like this. :)

-Prudent Knowledge

Blogger Unknown said...

I have been a christian for many years (most all my life) but I feel empty and angry.Things in my life seem to be going so bad.This article spoke to me deeply at the time I needed it.I love God with all my heart but just can't get it together lately.I willtry your way.

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