My Personal Use of the Bible
This article was part of a collection of testimonies by Christians regarding their personal use of the Bible. It originally appeared in the November 22, 1968 issue of Christianity Today.
Among us preachers there is a tendency to read the Bible for ammunition, and it is indeed the great sourcebook for our preaching. But it is much more. It is strength, and it is sustenance.
Through the years of experience I have learned that it is far better to miss breakfast than to forego a session with His Word. Not that Bible reading is some kind of religious fetish which brings good fortune, but that I myself lack decisiveness and purpose and guidance when I neglect what is more important than my necessary food.
For many years I have made it a practice to read five Psalms and one chapter of Proverbs every day. The Psalms show me how to relate my life to God. They teach me the art of praise. They show me how to worship—how to dwell "in the secret place of the most High" (Ps. 91:1).
The Book of Proverbs shows us how to relate our own lives to our fellow men. The first verse of Scripture I ever memorized was taught me by my mother from the Book of Proverbs: "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" (3:6). These twelve words formed the foundation for the faith which later transformed my life.
I find that unhurried meditation on the Word of God is of great value. When in the morning I read a chapter and meditate upon it, the Holy Spirit brings new shades of meaning which are thrilling and illuminating. Sometimes his Word makes such an impact on me that I have to put the Bible down and get up and walk around for a few moments to catch my breath.
If the Bible does not inspire us in the privacy of our rooms, then we can be assured that our messages will not move those who listen to us preach. If it does not reach our hearts, it will never reach their hearts. If it does not stir us, it will never stir the hearers.
Our day at home begins with Bible reading and prayer. I know it is old-fashioned, but so are breathing, eating, and sleeping. The people who help us around the house join the family, and together we read a portion of God's Word, meditate upon it, make a comment, and then have prayer.
On my desk are many things—a telephone, a dictating machine, a pen, and a Bible, among other things. They are on my desk because they work. The Bible is the one indispensable item. If ever I get to the place where the Bible becomes to me a book without meaning, without power, and without the ability to reprove and rebuke my own heart, then my ministry will be over, for the Bible has been far more than my necessary food.
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