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Bible Engagement Blog


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Increasing Bible Engagement

In the Hebrew Scriptures the broad meaning for “wax” or “waxed” is “increase”. Although the Hebrew word for “wax” is translated into English as “increase” it specifically means either an “increase in increase”, or seemingly paradoxically, but nevertheless logically, an “increase in decrease”. Like where “David grew (waxed) stronger and stronger” while “Saul grew (waxed) weaker and weaker.” 2 Samuel 3:1.

Sometimes we’re doing well with our Bible engagement, and sometimes not so well (Romans 7:15). How are you doing? I’m more up than down at the moment. The more I read the Word, the more it’s reading me. But it might not be like that in a few months time. That’s because there’s an ongoing war inside me. While the Spirit inclines me to wax stronger, my flesh inclines me to wax weaker.

Which begs a question: How can we grow stronger and stronger in reading, reflecting and responding to the Word? Here are three ways to increase Bible Engagement:

Use a Bible reading guide.

I find Bible reading plans tend to be the death of me. When I hit Leviticus I’m starting to yawn and when I get to Numbers my days are numbered! Bible reading plans also feel mechanical. I want to read the Word to meet with Jesus – never to check a box simply for the sake of reading through the Bible in a year. While I don’t like reading plans, I do find reading guides helpful. Reading guides, like the Scripture Union Guides, steer the reader through the whole Bible in 4-5 years. It’s a slower reading focused on reflection and it helps me contemplate the Word in manageable portions. Most importantly, a reading guide includes suggestions on how I should apply the Word – and that’s essential.

Spice it up.

William Cowper in his poem The Task says, “Variety is the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour.” When Bible reading seems to lose its flavour it may be helpful to spice it up. There are many ways to spice it up. Sometimes I’ll read from a different version, listen to an audio adaptation, or watch a Bible video. Children can spice it up with a free Bible game like Guardians of Ancora. Writing the Word, singing the Word, memorizing the Word, dramatizing the Word, journaling the Word, drawing the Word, or praying the Word also helps me spice it up. There are loads of online options that help us spice it up too. There’s the YouVersion app, Bible Gateway, Study Bible apps, or journaling apps for sharing readings with others like the Replicate app.

Do it together.

“Two are better than one” (Ecclesiastes 4:9). Bible engagement is easier when we do it together. Sometimes reading the Bible with a friend or family member is the only motivation that gets us into God’s Word when we’re tired, frazzled or plagued by the tyranny of the urgent. That’s because when someone else encourages us to read and reflect on God’s Word it tends to lighten the load, strengthen the discipline of Bible reading, and spur us on. Bible apps make this easy. They let you see what your friends have highlighted, enable you to read their margin comments, facilitate sharing of passages with social graphics, or make it possible to read Bible guides together. But for me, there’s nothing to beat face to face Bible engagement. Most nights I read the Bible together with my family at the dinner table. Our discussions flowing from the Bible reading are usually stimulating and grounding. And because we do Bible engagement together, it’s the glue that binds us to one another and to Jesus.

That’s it in a nutshell. Bible engagement usually increases when we use a Bible reading guide, spice it up, or do it together. So here’s to waxing stronger and stronger!

© Scripture Union Canada 2019

2 Corinthians 4:5


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Strengthening Bible Engagement

For the Christian, God’s Word is our life-blood. Yet, even though it’s indispensable for our health and vitality, many of us find it difficult to engage with the Bible.

Strengthening Bible engagement. Why do so many of us struggle to connect with God’s Word? Why do we not do what we know we should do? We know the Scriptures are words of life. We know we find direction and comfort in its pages. And we know it’s potent and trans-formative. Yet we sometimes don’t engage with it and don’t always do what’s best for us.

Are you in a Bible engagement slump? Is the Spirit nudging you to engage more effectively? Here are five uncomplicated ways to strengthen your connections with the Bible:

Confession

Being in right-standing with God is crucial for Bible engagement. To connect with God’s Word you’ve got to remove hindrances. Possibly the biggest obstacle to engagement with God’s Word is un-confessed sin. Are you living your own way and denying God the right to rule your life? This is sin. To receive God’s Word you’ve got to “throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage” so that “our gardener, God,” can “landscape you with the Word” James 1:21 (MSG).

Accountability

Who do you answer to? One of the reasons why our Bible engagement sometimes comes to a grinding halt is because we’re not accountable to others. Bible engagement is always better when we do it together. We need Bible engagement buddies. “Two are better than one” Ecclesiastes 4:9. So find someone who will journey with you, and at least weekly, chat with you about your Bible reading and reflections. I find this happens best when we both use the same reading guide. No matter how you navigate the details of who and when, the goal is having a friend to help you up if you fall down (cf. Ecclesiastes 4:10).

Journaling

Effective Bible engagement requires note taking. When we put pen to paper it often jogs our hearts and minds in ways that form and transform us. Journaling doesn’t have to be all-embracing. Aim to capture the essence of your daily encounters with Jesus in His Word. How much or how little you journal isn’t important. Most of the time I jot down only one or two sentences. So it doesn’t  have to be a detailed diary of everything you hear God saying to you. What is essential is that you do it.

Praying

Praying the Scriptures will revolutionise your engagement with God’s Word.  Pray as you read and read as you pray. The two go together. Prayer comes alive when it’s infused with the Word and the Word comes alive when it’s accompanied by prayer. Are you prayers dry, lacking content, or the same old things you’ve always prayed? The Bible, while not a prayer book per se, provides the content for our prayers. As you read God’s Word use the words, phrases or themes of the passage to guide, shape, and give language to your conversations with God. This is done by praying a Scripture text word for word as your own prayer, by personalising a text, or by turning your thoughts and feelings about a topic or theme of a Scripture passage into prayer.

Obeying

Obeying God’s Word may seem like a foregone conclusion, but most of the time we don’t act on what we know. Transformation, not information, is the aim of Bible engagement. When we obey God’s Word it comes alive to us and we come alive to it! Bible engagement is more than talking, it’s acting. But, we often get sidetracked from doing it, don’t we? So every time we read God’s Word we must intentionally ask ourselves, “What does God want me to do with His Word today?” And then, we must ask Him to help us do what He’s directing us to do.

There you have it. Don’t be backward in coming forward! Implement these five simple tweaks, trust the Lord, do nothing in your own strength, and see your Bible engagement reach new heights.

© Scripture Union Canada 2019

2 Corinthians 4:5


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The Enemy of Bible Engagement

“This will be the year I read the Bible,” you say to yourself. And so you begin, with the best of intentions, but before long you’re taking strain. Then you get to Numbers and your days are numbered!

Why do so many of us struggle to read the Bible? Even when we really want to do it, we somehow fall short. Are we feeble, or what? Why can’t we muster the discipline? Why do competing priorities take precedence? Why do we struggle to focus on the text? Why?Reading-Bible

There are many practical reasons why we don’t read the Bible, but there’s one big spiritual reason that trivializes all other reasons: Bible reading takes great effort because Satan’s the enemy of Bible engagement.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Satan does everything in his power to undermine our engagement with God’s Word because he’s hell-bent on doing everything he can to destabilize, demoralize, damage or destroy our relationship with Jesus.

Here’s why: Satan hates truth because Jesus is the Truth (cf. John 14:6). And he hates the Word of God because God’s “word is truth” John 17:17.

Satan’s been the enemy of Bible engagement since the beginning of humanity. The first thing he did to undermine God’s relationship with the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden, was to twist God’s word (cf. Genesis 3:1).

Satan’s also been the enemy of Bible engagement since the beginning of Christ’s public ministry. The first thing he did to try and demolish Christ’s work to redeem and reconcile the world to the Father, was to twist God’s word (cf. Matthew 4:1-11).

Satan has been and always will be (until he’s thrown into “the lake of burning sulphur” Revelation 20:10) “that ancient serpent … who leads the whole world astray” Revelation 12:9. And one of the main ways he leads humanity astray is by blinding our minds to the value of the Word or obscuring the Gospel message that connects us with the One who is the Word. Satan uses smoke and mirrors to divert us away from God. “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” 2 Corinthians 4:4.

Let’s not forget that Satan’s called the “prince of this world” (John 12:31) because the whole world is under his control (cf. 1 John 5:19). That’s why it’s naive to think we can connect with the Bible in our own strength. We need supernatural power, a power greater than Satan’s power, in order to successfully read, reflect, remember and respond to God’s Word.

So don’t try to go it alone. Don’t think that a New Year resolution or your personal discipline will be enough for a Bible reading victory. And don’t be so arrogant to think that you can do anything you set your mind and will to do. For it takes One greater than the enemy of Bible engagement to help you get into, and stay in the Word. It takes “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit,” whom God sends to “teach you all things” and remind you of everything He has “said to you” John 14:26.

There you have it. To grow stronger in Bible engagement you need to depend on the Holy Spirit. So remember to ask God daily to fill you with His Spirit (cf. Ephesians 5:18) and then open the Book and trust Him to “make everything plain to you” (John 14:26 MSG).

© Scripture Union Canada 2018

2 Corinthians 4:5