Many Christians – including myself – have struggled with reading the Bible. Either we have too much work to do, are just plain exhausted from our day, or something unexpected draws our attention away from reading. There’s always an excuse why we don’t spend time in the scriptures. But is any excuse really good enough to justify leaving God’s word on the shelf?
I’ve read the Bible off and on for a number of years. Was I ever really consistent? Unfortunately, not so much.
I had all the excuses in the world:
- “Hey, I went to Bible college. I know this stuff.”
- “I’m on the computer most of the day, and my eyes get tired from reading.”
- “I’ll get around to reading the Bible, but this [day, week, month] I’m just too busy and need to focus on my work.”
The list goes on and on, but the truth remains that we need the Bible. We survive and thrive by God’s word. Consider the words of Jesus:
It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ – Matthew 4:4 NIV
Not only was Jesus explaining that we find life through every word of God, but he was quoting scripture to make his point!
We need scripture to be fully alive. The message of God is powerful to change us from the inside out, and consuming it should be one of our top priorities.
Finding a Consumption Method
So, how is one to consume the word of God? Instead of reading it, I thought to myself, “What if I were to start listening to the Bible? You know, on CD or something.”
After searching around on the web for some audio bibles, I found many of them cost $5o or more. Sure, that’s worth the money, but I wasn’t sure about how to format an audio bible for my iPhone without taking some time to organize all the chapters and books for easy reference.
Then I found it: BibleGateway.com has a handful of audio bibles free of charge (legally, might I add)! Take for example, the New International Version audio bibles – they have three different readings of this translation. One of these readings is dramatized, and I found that to be a compelling option.
After finding these free audio bibles, I wondered if there was an app for my smartphone. Sure enough, my search produced the Bible Gateway app for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
Okay, so I had my new consumption method. Instead of reading the scriptures, I’d listen to them through my smartphone. Now all I needed was a reading plan.
Finding a Reading Plan
There are a variety of reading plans available. You can choose to read the Bible chronologically, straight through, in one year, and even in 90 days if you think you’ll make it! Wow, how’s one to choose?
After reviewing the different plans, and keeping in mind that I’d be listening to the Bible instead of reading it, I concluded that The Bible in 90 Days reading plan would be challenging but probably the most rewarding. I had tried this plan before, reading it in an older translation, but given that I was going to be listening to the Bible I thought it would be more doable.
Thus, the adventure began.
How Listening to the Bible is Changing My Life
I’ve never experienced the scripture like this before in my life. For approximately an hour each day, my wife and I sit down and instead of watching television, we listen to the word of God.
I’ve found the dramatized audio bible very respectful and even helpful. The sound effects, music, and variety of voices really puts you in middle of the action. You’ll hear the animals entering Noah’s ark, God’s voice booming from Mount Sinai, and Jonah’s echo in the belly of the fish. Crank up the volume, close your eyes, and you’re there.
The Bible in 90 Days plan is providing my wife and I with a great flyover of the scriptures. Following it, you’ll consume every word of the Bible in 90 days. Stick with it for an entire year, and you’ll have listened through the Bible four times in that year – an impressive and worthwhile feat.
Three Changes in My Life
Here are a few of the changes that are going on in my life since I started listening to the Bible:
- I’m realizing that “biblical heroes” such as Moses and others were just as human as you and I. In fact, you could even call Moses a murderer (see Exodus 2:12). Or, how about Paul the Apostle? Formerly called “Saul,” he approved of Christians being put to death and dragged men and women to jail (see Acts 8:1-5). Even in these horrific sins, God showed them tremendous grace and used them in mighty ways. Feeling lowly? God can use you too!
- The fear of the Lord is penetrating my heart. God is, after all, powerful! Think about it. Picture all of those plagues he brought on Egypt, how he destroyed the whole earth with rain from the heavens, and so much more. If we believe the Bible to be true (and I do), then surely we must realize the power that God has here and now. Thank God for his grace on us through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, or we’d all be doomed. Respect God, and let the fear of him keep you from sin (see Exodus 20:20).
- I’m realizing that everything began with, continues to be, and will be about Jesus. You’ll find many foreshadowings of the sacrifice God was going to make with Jesus throughout the Old Testament (see Genesis 22 for a profound example). Jesus lived a sacrificial life, and we are to do the same for God by becoming living sacrifices (see Romans 12:1).
I’m convinced that consuming the scriptures on a regular basis will change your life. You’ll view others differently, God differently, and yourself differently. You don’t have to follow my method to digest the Bible, but if you’re looking for a new approach, I’d encourage you to give it a try. However you take in God’s word, just make sure you do so on a regular basis. The Bible will change your life. You’ll find more contentment than you ever thought possible, and grow closer to God throughout your listening.
I encourage you, if you don’t have a reading plan, and you’ve been inspired to start reading or listening to the scriptures, start a plan and leave a comment below. I’d love to hear about your bible-reading methodology, and how it’s changing your life!