Flip over, if you would, to Matthew, chapter 12. Matthew, chapter number 12. The verse that I wanted to point out there in Revelation, chapter 1 is verse 3 where the Bible reads, "Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein, for the time is at hand." The title of my sermon this morning is Blessed is He That Readeth. Blessed is He That Readeth. Now, reading the Bible is something that Jesus mentioned over and over again in His ministry. When you read the four gospels, you'll see Him over and over again talking about the fact that people were in false doctrine, or making mistakes because they didn't know what the Bible said, and he talked about the fact that they had not read.
Look, if you would, at Matthew, chapter 12, verse 3. The Bible reads, but He said unto them, "Have you not read what David did when he was in hungered, and they that were with him." Look at verse 5, "Or have you not read in the law how that on the Sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are blameless." Flip over to chapter 19, verse number 4. Chapter 19, verse number 4, the Bible reads, "And he answered and said unto them, 'have ye not read that he which made them in the beginning made them male and female.'" Flip over to chapter 21. While you're turning there I'll read for you Luke 4 where the Bible reads, "And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, and as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up for to read." Luke 6:3, Jesus answering them said, "Have you not read so much as this, what David did when he was in hungered, and they that were with him."
Look down there at Matthew 21, verse 16, and said unto them, "Hearest thou what these say," and Jesus sayeth unto them, "Ye, have you not read out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise." Verse 42, Jesus sayeth unto them, "Did you never read in the scriptures the stone which the builders rejected, the same has become the head of the corner. This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes." Flip over to chapter 22. There, twice in one chapter He is rebuking people saying, "Didn't you read that? Haven't you read that story? Don't you know what the Bible says here?" Look at chapter 22, verse 31, "But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying." Flip over to chapter 24, just to the right there.
While you're going to chapter 24, I'll read for you from Mark, chapter 2, verse 25. He said unto them, "Have ye not read what David did?" In chapter 12, verse 10, "Have you not read this scripture? The stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner." Chapter 12, verse 26, "And is touching the dead that they rise. Have you not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto Him saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.'" Look down at your Bible there in Matthew 24:15, "When you, therefore, shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel, the prophet, stand in the holy place who so readeth let him understand."
Now, is it just me, or is this something that Jesus is bringing up over and over again just in the book of Matthew alone, just again, and again, and again, and again, rebuking people for not having read the Bible. He's saying, "You should have known these things, if you would have read in the scriptures." That's why I want to preach this morning, Blessed is He That Readeth. Now, if you would, flip over in your Bible to 1 Corinthians 14. While you're turning to 1 Corinthians 14, let me read you some other scriptures, because this is something that's emphasized throughout the New Testament. Ephesians 3:4 says, "Whereby, when ye read you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ." Colossians, 4:16, "And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that ye, likewise, read the epistle from Laodicea." 1 Thessalonians 5:27, "I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren." In Hosea 4:6, the Bible reads, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."
This is the problem today amongst Christians, there's a lack of knowledge because there's a lack of Bible reading. From the pulpit to the pew, people are not reading their Bibles as they should. Let me tell you something, you can tell when someone has done their Bible reading and when they haven't, because when they haven't done the Bible reading, there's a lack of knowledge there. There's a lack of understanding of the scripture there. We need to be people that spend our times reading the Bible and putting in the work necessary to not just be ignorantly coming to church and listening to the Bible, but we need to actually read the Bible on our own and feed ourselves daily with the meal from the Word of God.
Now, look at 1 Corinthians, chapter 14, verse 34. It says, "Let your women keep silence in the churches for it is not permitted unto them to speak, but they are commanded to be under obedience as also sayeth the law. If they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home, for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." Here he's talking about the fact that women should not speak in the church and that if they will learn anything let them ask their husbands at home, because it's a shame for women to speak in the church. You know what else is a shame? What else is a shame is when men don't know the Bible.
congregation: That's right.
Pastor: If God is saying here that the wife should be able to ask her husband at home, that's implying that their husband should know the Bible. That's what it's saying. If men weren't expected to lead their homes spiritually and to know what the Word of God says, then God wouldn't be directing their wives to them and saying, "Well, they should ask their husband." See, the husband should be held to a higher standard of knowing the Bible, because He's the leader. Just like the pastor should be at a higher standard of knowing the Bible, because He's teaching, because He's leading.
The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:15, study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. Notice, the workman that does not study to show himself approved needs to be ashamed, the Bible says. It says, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. It's a shameful thing for a man to not know the Bible. It's a shameful thing for a pastor not to know the Bible. That's why Jesus Christ is constantly putting people to shame, publicly saying, "Haven't you read, didn't you read this, didn't you read that, because it's embarrassing when men who are supposed to be religious leaders don't know the Bible, Sadducees and Pharisees are coming at Jesus. They haven't read. They don't know what it says.
Man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Job said, in chapter 23, verse 12, "Neither have I gone back from the commandment of thy lips, I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food." Reading the Bible is of extreme importance. It's something that feeds us spiritually. Not only that, it is something that gives us the knowledge that we need to have the right doctrine to live the Christian life, etc.
Why don't people read the Bible? Well, let me give you a couple reasons why people don't read the Bible. Go to Ecclesiastes, chapter number 12. The first reason why people don't read the Bible is because reading the Bible is hard work and they are lazy. That's why people don't read the Bible. It's a laziness thing, because it takes work and effort to read the Bible, so that's why people aren't doing it. The Bible says in 1 Timothy 5:17, "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the Word and doctrine."
The Bible talks about the elders of the church laboring in the Word and doctrine. That tells me that studying the Word and preaching the Word is labor, it's hard work, it's strenuous of a task. Look at Ecclesiastes 12, verse 12, "And further by these, my son, be admonished of making many books there is no end," watch this, "and much study is a weariness of the flesh." According to the Bible, in a few different places, reading, studying the Bible is hard work and it will actually tire you out. Therefore, the lazy man is not going to do the reading necessary.
Now, go if you would to Proverbs, chapter number 6. Just a few pages to the left in your Bible is the book of Proverbs. Proverbs, chapter number 6. I'll tell you this much right now that probably 99% of Christians have never read the Bible cover-to-cover. I'm very confident to say that. There are people who've been in church for decades who haven't read the Bible cover-to-cover even one time. It is a shame that we are Christians and say, "Hey, the Bible is our final authority for all matters of faith and practice, and everyone would agree that man does not live by bread alone but by every Word, but have you read every word?
Pastor: The Bible says in Proverbs 6, verse 6, "Go to the ant, thou sluggard." What's a sluggard? That's basically a derogatory word for someone who's lazy.
Pastor: It's basically like calling someone a slob. You slug. Think about the image of a slug. You don't want that to be your spirit animal, a slug, right? "Go to the ant, though sluggard. Consider her ways and be wise," Watch this, "which having no guide, overseer, or ruler provideth her meat in the summer and gathereth her food in the harvest." Part of maturity is that we would take initiative on our own and read the Bible ourselves without someone forcing us to do it, or someone checking up on us. The ant doesn't have an overseer, a guide, or a ruler, yet it does the job that's it required to do, and God is telling us that if we have laziness we need to take the ant as our model and become a self-starter, self-motivated, someone who sees what needs to be done and they get it done, and they don't need somebody to hold their hand and walk them through it, but they get it done on their own.
Of course, the Bible says foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him. When we have a small child, they need us every day to say to them, "Have you read your Bible," and, "You need to read the Bible," and we need to watch them, and check them, and make sure that they're getting the reading done, and ask them, "What did you read about?" Make sure that it's really getting done. As adults, this is something that no one's going to do. Nobody's going to come to me tomorrow morning and ask me, "Hey, have you read the Bible? Did you do your Bible reading? We're expected as adults to do it on our own. That's what God's teaching here, that we need to be able to parent ourselves, motivate ourselves, and discipline ourselves to read the Bible ourselves. Number one why people don't read the Bible, because it's hard work and they're being lazy.
Number two. Turn if you would to Hebrews, chapter number 5. Number two is that they listen to preaching and they feel like they already know the Bible. This is especially in a church like ours where there's a lot of doctrine being preached constantly. If you come to church here for a year you learn a lot of doctrine, you learn about all manner of subjects, and you learn about all the false doctrines out there and what's wrong with it, and these are all the scriptures to prove what we believe, and so on and so forth, so people get this idea that they know the Bible real well because they're being spoon fed the Bible in church and they hear a lot of preaching, and they think that that means that they know the Bible. Look what the Bible says in Hebrews, chapter 5, verse 12. It says, "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God, and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat."
Notice what he is saying here. He says, "You ought to be teachers." but he said, "You have need that one teach you." Then just a few words later he says, "You have need of milk." Notice, those two things are the same, having need that someone teach you is the same as having need of milk, okay. Those two things go together. Being a teacher yourself is one that needs strong meat. Why? Because the difference between strong meat and milk is that milk is not something that you feed yourself. Milk is something where mom puts the breast in your mouth and feeds you, and you don't have to feed yourself. You don't have to pick up knife and fork. You just lay there and it's brought right to you and you just drink the milk from your mother's breast. God is saying here, "Babes in Christ have need of milk." They need someone to teach them, and they need someone to basically bring them something easy that they can understand and give it to them.
The Bible is teaching us that when we are of full age, when we reach a spiritual maturity we're able to feed ourselves. That's the strong meat of the word. That's the one where we go into the Word ourselves with knife and fork and we read it on our own and learn on our own, instead of having someone else spoon feed it to us, or breast feeding at the teat of some Bible teacher, instead of actually getting it on our own with knife and fork. Listen, it's time for Christians today, in America, to grow up, pick up knife and fork and read the Bible, and get God's Word on their own and not just rely on the pastor.
Now, look, if your pastor is teaching you right, great, but what when the pastor's not teaching you right? How do you even know, if you're not reading the Bible on your own. Not only that, there's a big difference between somebody just giving you the answer, "Hey, here's the answer," and figuring out the answer on your own.
Pastor: I mean it would be like if we went to math class and I just started giving you the answers and just, "Here is the problem, here's the answer. Write that down. Oh yeah, I know all the answers to all these difficult problems. Do you know how to solve the problems on your own? Do you know how to prove these things? Remember geometry class where you have to do all these proofs and you have to prove this and prove that? Well, the Bible says, "Prove all things."
Pastor: We need to be able to do this on our own, especially as men, but all of God's people need to be able to read the Bible on their own, to learn it and to study it. Listen, I've come across a lot of people in my life that were puffed up people who come to me and want to tell me how it is spiritually and they haven't even read the Bible one time cover-to-cover, or they've only read it a couple times cover-to-cover. That's ridiculous. You know what blows me away is when people say, "Well, the Bible doesn't say anywhere that yada, yada, yada," and they've never read it one time. How do you know what it doesn't say?
Pastor: You'd have to read the whole thing one time, right, and then you'd be able to say, "I read the whole thing one time and never once did it say X, Y, and Z." Until you've read the whole thing one time, how do you know what it doesn't say? "The Bible doesn't say that anywhere." It's amazing how people today get mad at Biblical preaching and rebuke righteous, Biblical preaching. I'll tell you why they're rebuking it, because they don't know what the Bible says.
Pastor: When you have people who don't want to hear anything negative, and they get mad at anything that's hard preaching, and they want everything to be sweetness and light, that person has never read the Bible cover-to-cover one time. Fact.
Pastor: Fact. Okay, because the Bible gets ugly in places.
Pastor: Read it. If you're like, "I don't know what this guy's talking about." Yeah, "You don't know what you're talking about because you haven't read the Bible."
congregation: That's right.
Pastor: See, everybody who's read the Bible right now is nodding their head because they're remembering, "Oh, yeah, there's some rough stuff in the Bible. I remember that chapter," you know. I mean, there are stories in the Bible that are graphic. There are stories in the Bible that are very negative. There are stories in the Bible where God is pouring out His wrath, and let me tell you something it's not just in the Old Testament, it's in the New Testament.
Pastor: The most wrath that is being poured out in Revelation. I don't know what people are talking about, "Well, the God of the Old Testament was a God of wrath. The God of the New Testament is sweetness and light." Have you read Revelation? See, there's a big difference between people who are just going to church and hearing the sermon and who are reading the Bible on their own. It is not a substitute for reading the Bible when you come to church and hear preaching. People sometimes they get puffed up. If you would go to Psalm 119. They get puffed up and they think that they know a lot just from going to church. I like what Brother Chris [Soze 00:17:37] said, "If you haven't read the Bible cover-to-cover one time, you don't know nothing."
congregation: That's right.
Pastor: I agree with that. He said, "You know nothing." Don't come to me and tell me, "Well, the Bible this, the Bible says. You're wrong about this, you're wrong about that." Read the Bible and then come tell me that. The things that people say today, they blow my mind, but the only explanation is that they haven't read the Bible cover-to-cover ...
congregation: That's right.
Pastor: ... for people to come up with the things that they do. Number one, it's hard work. Reading the Bible's work. We live in a generation that just wants to see the movie. We live in a generation where people don't want to go to the library and get books off the shelf and read and study. They want to sign up for a class where they can just kind of sit there and have it all spoon fed to them. They don't want to go study and learn things on their own. They'd rather just get the CliffsNotes, so they can pass the test in their class instead of actually reading the book. They'd rather just go get the movie. They'd rather just have somebody explain it to them. They'd rather go to church and just have the pastor tell them what to believe than to read the Bible and figure it out on their own. We need to be like the ant and self-motivated to study the Bible on our own.
Number two, they listen to preaching and they feel like they already know the Bible. That's why they don't do a lot of reading, because they feel, "Oh, I already know all this stuff." Whenever somebody has that attitude they usually know a lot less than they think that they know. Here's the thing. I've read the Bible many times and, honestly, I'm constantly feeling like there's so much more to learn. Okay.
Pastor: Look at Psalm 119, verse 97. The Bible reads in verse 97, "Oh how love I thy law. It is my meditation all the day. Thou, through thy commandments has made me wiser than mine enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients because I keep thy precepts." You know what I noticed, a lot of people who think that they have more understanding than all their teachers, except they forgot the part about the testimonies being the meditation, loving the law, having the commandments in their heart.
They just want to think to themselves, "I understand more than the ancients." No you don't. No you don't. Just because you've heard preaching doesn't make you Biblically literate. You need to study the Bible and read it on your own. That's how you're going to understand more than the ancients. That's how you're going to have more understanding than all your teachers, when you actually meditate on the Word of God, day and night. The Bible says, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law doth he meditate day and night."
The third reason why people don't read the Bible. Number one, it's because they're lazy. Number two, it's because they heard a lot of preaching so they feel like, "Oh, I've been in church my whole life. I know the Bible." I know, I've talked to people who've been saved for 40 years and I asked them, "Have you ever read the Bible cover-to-cover? "Oh, well, you know, I'm sure over the years, all the church I've been to, all the Sunday School I've been, I'm sure if you add it all I'm sure we went through the whole Bible." No, because there are huge sections of the Bible that are never preached from the pulpit.
Pastor: There's only so much you can preach. But people have said, "Oh, you know, I've been saved for 40 years. I've been in church my ... I already know what's in there." I remember a particular person that I challenged like this. This person had been saved and in church for 40 years, independent Baptist. I said, "I promise you if you read the Bible cover-to-cover right now, if you go through and actually systematically read it cover-to-cover, then come back and tell me that you've already read it." This person went through and started reading it and they came back and said, they said, "I had not even read a fraction of it." They were shocked. They kept coming to me and saying, "Whoa, you won't believe what I read. This crazy ... so, how come I never even heard this story?" They were blown away. People who've never read the Bible cover-to-cover they often think that they have.
Pastor: Let me tell you something, unless you have systematically done it, unless you have checked it off, you've not read Isaiah. You've not read Jeremiah. You've not read Ezekiel, unless you made a point and said, "I'm reading Ezekiel and you went through chapter, by chapter, by chapter. Listen, reading the Bible cover-to-cover is a life-changing, eye-opening experience. I don't care how long you've been saved. I don't care if you've been saved for five minutes, or five years, or 50 years, reading the Bible cover-to-cover will change your life. It will change the way that you view the world. It'll change the way that you view God Himself and how you view Jesus, because of the fact that you will meet Jesus in a new way. You'll get to know Him in a deeper way than just a superficial way of just knowing the basics. You can actually get to know all the facets of His personality, not just the main basics. Those are the three reasons why people don't read the Bible.
Let me give you three tips on reading the Bible more, because I believe that there are a lot of people in this room who need to read the Bible more and need to put more work into this and get serious about completing the Bible cover-to-cover for the first time, and then get serious about reading it multiple times. Honestly, reading it one time is not enough, obviously. You need to read it again, and again, and again.
I would say just a minimum, a minimum for Joe Church Member is to read the Bible once a year cover-to-cover. That's 15 minutes a day for the average. You say, "Oh, well I'm a terrible reader." Well, here's how you get good at reading, by reading more. Here's how you get good at anything, by doing it more. Here's how you get good at playing the piano, you play more. Here's how you get good at running, you run more. Here's how you get good at preaching, you preach more. Here's how you get good at playing the violin. I mean, "Hello, you get good at reading by reading more." People that are not good at reading, it's because they don't read very much. People who are good at reading read a lot. It's that simple.
You know, we talk so much about talent. Honestly, there's not really a lot to do with talent in this world. Most things are 90% hard work, 10% talent. You look at musicians where you say, "Wow, that guy's got a lot of musical talent. That guy just makes it look easy." I guarantee you that person has put in hundreds and hundreds of hours, thousands of hours practicing, probably because they enjoyed it. As a kid they just played, and played, and played. They got so good it just came natural. When you learn things when you're young, it's easier. The younger you are, the easier it is to learn new things and to open your mind to new ways of thinking.
We like to talk about talent because it excuses us for being lazy. We look at somebody who's achieving something. "Oh, look at the talent," when we ought to be saying, "Look at the hard work," but see, we don't want to say that. It's easier to say talent because then we can, "that's why I don't have it." Whereas, with the hard work we would have to say, "Oh, why am I not working hard, again?" See what I mean? People like to make a big deal about talent, but talent is overrated, my friend. Hard work beats talent every time. It's like the tortoise and the hare.
Anyway, where did I have you turn? Did I have you turn anywhere? Go to Deuteronomy 17. Deuteronomy, chapter 17. Deuteronomy 17, for an average reader you can read the Bible 15 minutes a day, you'll complete the whole thing in one years' time. That's not some crazy, "Oh, I just don't have time." You don't have 15 minutes? I guarantee you that everybody has 15 minutes. You can find 15 minutes no matter how busy you are. Think about all the time that we waste and all the other things that we do, how easy it would be to just pick up a Bible for 15 minutes, as a beginner, and just get through the thing in one years' time.
Start by at least reading the New Testament cover-to-cover and then get in to read the Old Testament cover-to-cover. If a year from now you haven't read the Bible cover-to-cover then shame on you. If you've been saved for years, what are you doing? Have you not been taught? Did your pastor not tell you? If you've been coming here you've heard it. We need to read the Bible. We are destroyed for lack of knowledge. I'm sorry but just because you've heard a lot of preaching and you think you're real smart, you're not, because that's not going to do it. You have to read it on your own. There's a big difference between reading things on your own and just somebody just giving you the answer, somebody just spoon feeding you.
The purpose of church is not to be your main sustenance, okay. This is icing on the cake. Basically, coming to church and being fed spiritually, it's like going out to eat, in a sense, right, except God's commanding you to go out to eat, in this case, because God commands us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another and so much the more as we see the day approaching. We should not just think that our main diet is just to go to church three times a week, or worse yet just go to church once a week, and that's our spiritual food. No, daily we're supposed to be eating every single day. You don't go a week without food. You don't go three days without food. You're eating every single day. That's how the Bible is. We eat every day. What we get at church is icing on the cake. It's a treat. It's something extra. It's not our main education.
Most of what I learned from the Bible I learned by myself with the Holy Spirit. The vast majority of what I've learned, and the vast majority of what you learn should be alone with the Holy Spirit reading the Bible, and then the preaching is just bonus. It's helping speed up the process of growth, but it cannot replace personal Bible reading. Here are some tips on how to read the Bible more, okay. I have three points and I'm going to relate these to running. I like to run, and the Bible talks a lot about running, and the Bible uses running a lot as an illustration for spiritual things. I'm just going to give you some illustrations that I've learned from running, and I'm going to use these with reading the Bible.
Number one, how do you read the bible more? Number one, read the Bible every day, okay. Now, that sounds kind of obvious, like, "Okay, tell us something we don't know. Let me explain why this is important. First of all, look at Deuteronomy 17, verse 18, " And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests, the Levites, and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life." Look at that, read therein all the days of his life. Why? "That he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them, that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left, to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel."
Let me ask you something. Does that sound like something that we need in our lives? I mean, do we want to keep the Words of God, and keep His law and statues, and keep His commandments. Well, then how are we going to get there, by reading the Bible every day. Do we want our heart to be humble so that we're not lifted up above our brethren and think that we're better than everyone else. How are we going to get there? How are we going to get humility? By reading the Bible, every day. Do you want to prolong your days? Who wants to have a shorter life? Shorten my life. Shorten the life of my children. No one. The Bible says here to prolong your life, to prolong the lives of your children, to get the blessing of God. How do you get there? By reading therein all the days of your life. If you want to have these blessings, then here's the doorway that you walk through. You read the Bible every single day.
Then of course, the famous verse in Acts 17:11, "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Now, here's why it's so important to read the Bible every day, and here's why you'll read the Bible more if you read it every day. Now, everybody's different when it comes to sports, or running, or whatever, but here's the thing. I noticed that when I was training to run longer distances and so forth, I noticed that when I started running every day it just revolutionized my running, whereas, I'd struggled for years to make progress and to become a better running. It was running every single day that made me progress by leaps and bounds.
I think here's a big reason why. Because of the fact that if you plan on running three to four times a week, like most people would recommend, "Hey, run three times a week. Run four times a week. Get your rest days in." That's what most people recommend. You know, I find that as a super busy person, as a pastor of a church, father of eight children, husband. In the past I was also a business owner. You know, just living a busy life. You know what happens if you're going to run a few times a week? What I found happening is that I'll think, "Yeah, I'm gonna run three times a week and next thing you know you went six days without running. You're like, "Whoa, how could I have not run for six days?" Because time flies. Isn't your life like that where it's so busy and all of a sudden it's just like five days have gone by, six days have gone by. All of a sudden you realize it's been a week, it's been eight days, it's been nine days I've not run, okay.
Here's the thing with Bible reading, if you don't read the Bible every day, I guarantee you five days will go by, six days will go by, eight days will go by, because you get busy. Whereas, it's really easy to build a habit when you do it every day. I find it difficult to build a three-time-a-week habit, you know, in the sense of ... Now, with church it's easy because it's scheduled, it's set in stone, it's Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night. When it's just, "Hey, I'm gonna run three times this week, when I get around to it, or whatever." It's hard to build that habit.
When you do things every single day they become like a compulsion, okay. Think about all the habits that we have. If we were to go around the room we could list all kinds of things that we do every day, right. Get out of bed, no I'm kidding. We all probably brush our teeth every day. Who brushes their teeth every day? All right. I'm not going to ask who doesn't. Who brushes their teeth every day? Yeah. Who eats breakfast every day? Who eats breakfast, every day you eat breakfast? That's all? All right. Who eats lunch every day? Everybody has habits that they do every single day. Here's what you'll find, if you don't do it something will seem off. Like, "Oh man, something's missing. I didn't brush my teeth, or I didn't eat breakfast today," or, "Oh, I forgot to do it."
You know, you probably get the mail every day. People have habits that they do every day that become a compulsion. That's how Bible reading needs to be. It needs to be that if we don't read our Bible it feels weird. Something's wrong, I'm forgetting something, I'm missing something. I like to run at night. I run at night or in the afternoon. I don't really like to just roll out of bed and start running, personally. Sometimes I do but not very often. I like to run later in the day.
You know what I find is every once in a while I would get up in the morning and run, first thing in the morning, and then by the evening it's been so long since I've been running, I'll be like, "Man, I need to run. I didn't run today, I feel like I need to go running." Physical craving for running. I have to tell myself, "You know what, no, you already ran this morning." Literally. Running's not exactly to most people a pleasurable activity, is it, that they just love doing, just look forward to it? Here's the thing, if you do something every day, though, it becomes something that becomes a compulsion where you enjoy it and where you look forward to it and where it's just a habit you have to do it. It's just like an addiction in a sense, okay.
It's interesting because the only time the word addicted is used in the Bible it's used about something positive. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 16 that the house of Stephanas had addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints. I mean, the one addiction in the Bible is being addicted to the ministry, that's a good thing. Hey, why don't you get addicted to Bible reading. Get to where it's a craving. Instead of reaching for that pack of cigarettes, you're reaching for that New Testament. It becomes a compulsion. It's hard to develop a compulsion like that for something that you don't do every day. If you read your Bible every day, and here's what they say, 30 days to build a habit. If you do something every day for 30 days, it'll become a habit. It'll become a compulsion.
Read the Bible every day for 30 days and you'll get to where it's just part of your life. It's just something you do. You read the Bible. You read the Bible. Fifteen minutes, for crying out loud. Obviously, those that are more mature spiritually bump that up. As a starting point, good night. Don't be one of those people that goes from 0, to just like not reading your Bible at all, to like, "I'm gonna read the whole Bible this month," or something. Obviously, you have to have a reasonable goal. You have to grow. That's like if I say, "Well, I've never been running and I'm just going to go run a half marathon today, or something." That doesn't make any sense, right? You have to start out slowly build up to it. Obviously, it's the same way with Bible reading, you build into it.
I'm telling you, when I started running every single day then I wasn't missing any workouts because you just do it every day. There's no thought behind it. There's no, "Whoops, I forgot," because it's just something you do every day without even thinking about it. You say, "Well, you got to get proper rest and whatever." Well, here's how I would get rest. I would just run one morning and then I'd run the next night and then there's 36 hours, there's my day off right there. I ran seven days a week, but yet I had a day off, in a sense, because I'm going from Friday morning to Saturday night. There's my Sabbath of rest, as it were.
That's something that I learned from running and, honestly, it applies to Bible reading also. It's not just, "Hey, read the Bible every day because God said so, it's read the Bible every day, because if you read the Bible every day, you'll read 10 times more than the person who reads it when they feel like it, because if you read it when you feel like it, you'll find five days going by, two weeks going by. You'll go from Sunday to Sunday and realize that the Bible never left the dash of your car, or that you left it at church and didn't even notice that you left it at church, because you didn't read it anyway. Number one, read it every day.
Number two tip on reading the Bible more is to keep track of what you read. Go to 1 Corinthians, chapter 9. Keep track of what you read. Look, I'm telling you right now somebody who says, "Well, I read the Bible every day," but they just flip it open and read at random and don't keep track of what they read, is going to read way less than the person who keeps track of what they read. There has to be some kind of a goal to motivate you, not just a random open the Bible and just read whatever.
Now, listen, when I was a child I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man I put away childish things. When I was a child I knew that I was supposed to read the Bible every day because I had had that drilled into me in church. I was born and raised an Independent Fundamental Baptist and it was drilled into me, "Read the Bible every day," in church, in school, everyone was telling me that. I remember as a kid and as a teenager just kind of fulfilling that as an obligation, not really because I had my heart in doing a lot of Bible reading or having any kind of a goal, but just, "I'm supposed to read my Bible today."
Here's what I would read. I would always do the same thing. I would do one of these few things. I would either just flip open to Proverbs. The reason I liked Proverbs was because you could get something out of it real fast. I remember the pastor would always say like, "Just read until you get something." That's what the pastor would say when I was growing up, you know. "Just read the Bible until you get something out of it," which I never say that because to me that makes no sense. How about just read a lot, okay. I remember him saying, "Hey, read till you get something out of it," so I'd like to go to Proverbs because, you know when I had very little time, just go to Proverbs. You're gonna get something out of it fast, because each verse is like self contained. It's just one statement. You read like five, six verses and you feel like, "Wow, that's a lot to think about."
Back to video games, back to movies, back to TV, back to skateboarding, back to swimming, back to riding my bicycle, you know, and just going through the motion. If I wanted to go a little deeper into the Word, I would just flip open the red-letter edition. You know, find something that Jesus said. That's going to be important. I'd read just a red-letter speech, by Jesus, and read that, or I would go to I and II Timothy or Titus because I knew that those were just really dense with doctrine, where you just read a few verses and you get something profound.
That's pretty much most of my Bible reading as a teenager was just reading the red-letters over and over again, Proverbs over and over again, and I and II Timothy and Titus over, and over, and over again, okay. But, I didn't read much. I'd read a few verses. "Read till you get something out of it." Look, we need to get serious. We need to grow up. We need to get some strong meat here. We need to read the Bible cover-to-cover. We need to read Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zachariah. Look, what's going to motivate you to open the book of Zachariah and read it? It's not going to be because you feel like it, okay. It's going to be because you have a goal. It's going to be because you have a plan, because you're keeping track of it.
Look, if you would, at I Corinthians 9, verse 24, using the running illustration. The Bible says, "Know ye that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?" Look at this last phrase. "So run, that you may obtain, and to every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run," watch this, "not as uncertainly, so fight I, not as one that beateth the air." What's he saying? I'm not playing games here. I'm not running uncertainly. I'm not just going out for a little pleasure jog here, I have a goal. I'm trying to win. I want to obtain something. Paul said in Philippians, "I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." What's pressing toward the mark? There's some kind of a goal. There's some kind of a finish line to press toward. Hey, here's the finish line on Bible reading, reading the whole thing.
Pastor: That's the finish line. It's time for you to burst across that tape and finish reading the Bible, cover-to-cover. That's the finish line, my friend. They do it to obtain a corruptible crown. We are training for the Lord's army. We're serving the Lord Jesus Christ. We do it for an incorruptible crown. We need to put in the work at least that an athlete would put in. What does the Bible say? "Bodily exercise profiteth little." He said, "Exercise thyself rather unto godliness." What's more important, training our physical bodies and getting into shape, or training our spirit by reading the Bible?
What's the Bible saying here, "Not uncertainly, not beating the air," not just this randomness where you're just running for the fun of it. No, you're running to obtain. You want to win. You want to accomplish something. There's a goal. There's a finish line. There's a destination that you're heading to. Keep track of what you read. Now, there are a lot of ways to do this. One way that I've always like to do it is just the table of contents in the front of the Bible. I think that's a great way to keep track of it, because I personally, and everybody's different, but I personally like to read the Bible out of order.
I don't sit and read it in order. Some people do. They start with Genesis. They read to Revelation and then they start at the beginning again and they just go through it like that over and over. That's great. That's just not my personality. I've found that, personally, I read more if I read something that I feel like reading that day. At the same time, you've got to balance that with, "Hey, you better feel like Zachariah at some point. You better feel like Ezekiel at some point, because you're supposed to read the whole thing, okay. The way I balance those two things is, I use the table of contents as a check list and as I read each book I just put a check mark next to it in the table of contents. That way I can read it in whatever order I want, but I'm still keeping track and checking it off, and I can still see the finish line. When I check everything off I know I'm done.
Obviously, you don't always read the whole book at a time, so what I do is I just put a number next to the word in the table of contents. Let's say I'm reading in Genesis and I leave off. I just finished chapter 22, then I'll just write a 23 next to Genesis, saying, "Hey, start in Genesis 23." Then, let's say the next day I start reading in 23 and I get through 26, then I'm just going to cross out the 23 and write 27. In a lot of my old Bibles you'll see there's just all these little scribbles next to each name of the book where I write the number of the chapter I'm in.
When I was a teenager, I used to read seven books at a time. I always had seven books of the Bible going at once. That way I could get different parts throughout the day, different pieces I liked, something from the New Testament, something from the prophets, something from the books of Moses, whatever, something from Psalms, and I would just have those seven books listed in the back of my Bible and just write the chapter number that I was in. That way I could read a little bit of heavy reading, something like Ezekiel or something and then I could read kind of a fun book, as the dessert of that meal.
When you sit down to the Bible it's like sitting down to a meal, sometimes you got to eat your Brussels sprouts and read about now to build the tabernacle, or read about all the, "These are the names," of all the different sons of whoever. Then after you get through all the vegetables and everything, then you go to the ice cream of Proverbs, or Psalms, or the red letters, or the I and II Timothy and Titus. As a kid, it was just candy, ice cream, because that's how kids are, right? Grow up, read the whole book. Eat your vegetables. That's what the Bible is like.
Use a checklist of some kind. I've given you a few ideas here. One idea, you can write, hey these are the books I'm working on in the back. What chapter I'm in, cross them out and then eventually check them off in the table of contents or draw a line through them in the table of contents, or highlight them in the table of contents. Figure out a way to keep track. You might have a computer software where you tack. There's probably an app for that where you can track your Bible reading on some kind of an iPhone app or Android app, or you can just write it in a notebook. Whatever you do, you must keep track.
If you do not keep track you're going to lose sight of the goal. You're going to ask yourself, "Why am I reading this?" You're going to read way more. Look, isn't it fun to check things off? Do you ever put things on the to do list that you've already done just so you can check them off, or things that you know you're about to do and it's going to take you like one minute. Put it down and then to just get that feeling of checking things off, checking it off, checking it off. It's a psychological thing, to check things off, okay. Keep track of what you read. Press toward the mark. Don't just beat into the air, okay.
Thirdly, keep a Bible with you at all times. Go to Proverbs, chapter 7. Keep the Bible with you at all times. These are practical tips that will work. Number one, how do you read the Bible more, you read it every day, because if you wait, if you wait six days to read your bible, right, that 15-minute easy, "Hey, everybody's got 15 minutes," just became an hour and a half. Fifteen minutes times six is an hour and a half. Now, just to keep up with the basic easy beginner reading plan, you better sit down with the Bible for an hour and half and read it. Well, that's a little harder, okay.
Now, here's the thing. If you're going to be a pastor some day. If you're a young man that says, "You know what, I want to preach. I want to be a pastor someday," then, you know what, you better sit down with your Bible for an hour and a half frequently and read it, because the 15-minute-a-day plan is not for pastors. It's not for leaders, okay. It's for beginners. It's for mothers, and fathers, and children in the church that are living their life. If somebody's going to lead the church, they better read a lot of Bible, okay.
When I started the church I had read the Bible cover-to-cover 24 times, I believe. I know it was well over 20 times, because I read it four times a year, when I was 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, and I started the church when I was 24, so I had read it about 24 times. I had read it about four times a year. I had memorized 100 chapters of the New Testament that I could quote verbatim, okay. Why? Because I don't want to get up and teach people when I don't know what I'm talking about.
congregation: That's right.
Pastor: There are far too many pastors our there who don't know what they're talking about, who teach all kind of false doctrine and lies, and some of them their heart's in the right place, but they did not do the reading and Jesus is up in Heaven thinking to Himself, "Have you not read? Do you not know the scriptures? What are you doing?" It's the blind leading the blind.
Pastor: You know what, every one of these guys who goes out and pastors a church without having done the requisite reading and study, you know what they all think, though, they all think that their Bible college has steered them right.
congregation: Yeah, that's right.
Pastor: As long as they follow the program of this sending church or this Bible college. That's not going to cut it. You've got to be a leader, okay, and you've got to do it on your own. You got to know the Bible. It's critical. The Bible, if you do it every single day, you'll read more, a lot more, because it's consistent. It's easier to develop the habit. Just get in the habit of just constantly reading your Bible, reading your Bible, every day, every day read the Bible, read the Bible. Number two, keep track of what you're reading.
Lastly, keep a Bible with you all the times. Look at Proverbs 7, verse 1, "My son, keep my words and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live, and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart." Now, a great way to have the Bible with you all the time is to memorize the Bible. Then it's with you all the time. You don't even have to have a physical book with you. Not only that, we should have it at our fingertips. We should have it in our hand. Now, I'll tell you that a lot of people have increased their Bible reading substantially just by following this one tip. Have a Bible with you.
There should be a Bible in every room of your house. Maybe this is a little bit crude to say from the pulpit but, you know what, to me it's more important that you read your Bible than the fact that somebody could be offended by what I'm about to say. I've known people whose Bible reading was revolutionized by putting a Bible on the back of the toilet. They put a Bible on the back of the toilet and they're like, "That revolutionized my Christian life." You know what, you say, "Well, I can't believe you said that, Pastor Anderson." I can't believe you haven't read the Bible cover-to-cover.
Pastor: You know, it's time to get rid of the hot rod magazine and the dirt bike magazine and the hiking magazine and get a Bible on the back, if that's what it takes. I mean, I've talked to people and they say, "Now, I'm getting through the Bible more than once a year. It's great. I'm reading it every time," because it's in front of you. Look, put it on the coffee table. Put it on the back of the toilet. Put it in the car. Put is in your lunch box. You go to work, put a New Testament in the lunch box. Kids, you go to school, put a New Testament in your backpack when you go to school. Put it in your pocket. Ladies, put it in your purse.
Nowadays, there's the app, the Bible app. People always have their phone with them. Even so, I wouldn't even just say, "Well, I'll just rely on that," because you know what you'll do, you'll pick up your phone to go for the Bible reading app and say, "Ooh, I have some new notifications," from Facebook, from email, from Twitter. I got to respond to this text message real quick." The phone could also contain a lot of distraction. "Oh, I'm going to read the Bible on my computer, or my tablet." Well, what about all the other fun things that are like, "Come here," you know. "Come just check, it's only going to take a second." Then you fall down the rabbit hole of social media instead of reading your Bible.
Just get a physical old-fashioned book and get a New Testament, get a Bible. Hey, get the Bible on CD. There's the one that's read by Alexander Scourby, is a great edition. The Alexander Scourby New Testament, stick that in your car. I remember just as a worldly teenager, struggling to get right spiritually and to get into Bible reading. You know what was always easy was just to shove in that cassette, you know, back then. Shove in that Alexander Scourby cassette and let that thing loop for a few hours. You know what, it's pretty easy to do that.
That will help you get some more Bible knowledge and get some more Bible reading in, through audio. Look, you're cleaning the house, you're doing something in the yard or whatever. If you have headphones, throw it on. Listen to Alexander Scourby, or whoever you like. Read in the King James Bible. You can have a pocket New Testament. Just putting it in your lunch pail, that could get you 15 minutes of reading. What about when you're in line at places all the time? Right? You're at the post office, you're at the bank. You're at the DMV. What if you could just pull out a New Testament and read a chapter? It adds up, my friend. The little things add up.
You've got to keep it with you all the time. You say, "Well, how does that tie in with running?" Running's with you all the time. That's what I love about it. It's not like it's a bike. You don't always have a swimming pool with you all the time. You know what, running's with you all the time. I remember there were times when I'd get so busy that I couldn't run, I would just like run from my car to the grocery. If I was stopping at a store or something, just run to the store, just run in, run out. You know, I'd be working around the church building here, just run back and forth in the church building, whatever I had to do. Run to the mailbox and back. It's always with you. It's something that's easy to do. All those little bursts of running add up, and you get good at running.
What I'm trying to say is, that we as Christians need to make Bible reading a huge priority. It's important. It's critical. It's one of the mainstays of the Christian life. It's one of the most important things that we can do to stay in touch with the Lord and to basically stay filled with the Spirit, and to gain knowledge and understanding, so that we can have the wisdom we need to make decisions in life, and so that we're not fooled by false doctrine, and not just think, "Well, you know, I'm going to Faithful Word Baptist. I can just kick back. Pastor Anderson's not going to steer me wrong."
What if Pastor Anderson does steer you wrong, number one. I'm not going to, but I'm just saying. What if I fall over dead and then some other smooth guy comes in and, "Oh, he's just like Pastor Anderson," right, and he starts kind of bringing in the leaven, bringing in the false doctrine, and you don't even know because you're so used to just following and not thinking about it and not judging things on your own. What if you move away somewhere or something? You know, you go to some other church. Come on. Even so, there's a huge colossal difference between knowing the right answer and knowing why and knowing how to derive the right answer, and reading it in the Bible on your own. Let's make this a church where people know the Bible.
We're not just, "Oh, yeah, that pastor is knowledgeable." No, no, where everybody's knowledgeable. I mean, if somebody tries to come in here preaching false doctrine, look out, because there's going to be a whole bunch of people ready to just jump on him and say, "Nope, here's what it says right here in Zachariah, and be able to go to the obscure places and disprove all false doctrine."
Let's bow our heads and have a word of prayer. Father, we thank you so much for your Word, Lord. It's such an important treasure. It's more valuable to us than our necessary food, Lord. Please help every single person who's here to take this sermon seriously and to put these things into practice and to decide right now that they're going to read the Bible every day, that they're going to keep track of what they read, and that they're going to keep a Bible with them all the time, so that they can get as much reading in as they can, so they can meditate day and night on your Word, Lord. Help everybody here to make this a big priority in their lives. In Jesus name we pray, amen.