My sister recently posted some old family photos on the internet, so I took a look at them. As I was going through the photos, I came across a picture of me holding a book with gold lettering on the cover. I realized that the photo was from my 18th birthday, and the book was my Bible when it was brand new.
I have an assortment of Bibles that I have collected over the years. A lot of them were gifts from schools, churches, family and friends. I have various translations: an Amplified version, a New Century version, and several King James versions. I have one particular KJV Bible that I take to church with me. They are all on a shelf in our home office, where I draw my cartoons.
Then there is the one I think of as “my Bible”. That is the one I read most of the time. I don’t keep it on the shelf with the other Bibles. It can usually be found in the kitchen or the living room, where I do most of my reading. It is the New International Version Bible that my parents gave me for my 18th birthday, nearly 30 years ago.
I was very blessed to have parents who modeled Bible reading for me as I was growing up. It was not unusual for me and my brother to see both of our parents reading and studying the Bible. I remember my Mom had a Dake’s Annotated King James Bible that she liked to read. My Dad enjoyed reading his Amplified Bible. I wanted a Bible of my own, one that was easy to read – a reliable translation into modern English. I expressed that desire to my parents, and they chose the NIV Bible for me. I think it was a Holy Spirit inspired choice. It was just the right Bible for me.
I wish I could say that I have read it every day for the past 30 years. Sadly, there have been times when I didn’t make Bible reading a high priority. But, in recent years, I’ve made it a part of my daily routine. I usually read about five or so chapters every morning, while I am eating breakfast. I feed my body and my spirit at the same time.
I recently completed the “Read the Bible in 90 Days” Bible reading plan on biblegateway.com. I was a little concerned that I would not be able to keep up with it, but I decided to take on the challenge. It had been a while since I read the Bible straight through from cover to cover. I started on June 1, and ended on August 30. I think it is a good exercise to read the entire Bible. Yes, there are some parts that are harder to read than others, lists of names and numbers and places that may not seem relevant today. But Paul wrote in his 2nd letter to Timothy, 3rd chapter, 16th verse that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” (NIV). I notice the word “all” in that verse. All of the Bible is useful, or as the King James says, “profitable”. And all of it is God-breathed, meaning it is the inspired Word of God. So, I’m glad I took the time to read the entire book, even the seemingly boring passages.
But, as my pastor has been recently pointing out to us, it’s not enough just to read the Bible. In John 5:39, Jesus, speaking to the Jewish religious leaders, says “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me,” (NIV). Where the NIV says “study the Scriptures”, the King James says“search the Scriptures”. We should not just read the Bible, we should be studying it, and searching through it. And what should we be searching for? We should be searching for Jesus. All of the scriptures, both Old and New Testatment, testify of Jesus. I have lately been making more of an effort to study, and not just read the Bible. When I sit down to read, I try to make sure I have a notebook handy to jot down any insights the Holy Spirit may give me. In John 14:26, Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will “teach you all things”, and I want to be a good student.
Well, the gold lettering that was on the cover of my Bible is all worn off now, but the book is still in good shape. There are no torn pages – no pages falling out of it. Maybe it will last for another 30 years.