There is ONE catalyst you and I have available to us that, more than any other, will ignite a reaction in your spiritual life. That's a bold claim. What could possibly be the "one" thing that sets everything else in motion? And, can it really be that simple?
Yes. I believe it can, and is.
[Note: This post is available as an pamphlet to tuck into your Bible in the church foyer info rack! ]
We often think prayer is the answer. But prayer is found in all religions and even none, and it doesn’t result in universal transformation. Then we think worship. But worship is likewise expressed in all people’s lives, religion not required. While worship can be transformative, it isn’t the one thing in Christian faith that will encourage the kind of progress, change, transformation we’re seeking. What about learning, teaching, and/or reading? While each of these can be powerful, the catalyst isn’t the activity itself. We often read without any noticeable change.
The “catalytic substance” that increases the rate of our spiritual reactions—without being consumed in the process—is reading, meditating and applying the Word of God. Daily.
Evangelist D.L. Moody knew and expressed it this way:
The written Word of God is used by the Spirit to inform, direct, shape and empower our prayer, worship and greater learning. As Moody said, the Holy Spirit works upon the Word within us.
Its for this reason that the Holy Spirit inspired the Psalmist to instruct that it should be our delight, so much so that we meditate upon it day and night (Psalm 1:1-3). In the New Testament Paul tells us and the Colossian believers to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” (Col. 3:16) and that it is useful for instructing and correcting our lives in a manner pleasing to the Lord (2 Tim. 3:14-16). Peter tells us that its source is the Father Himself, delivered to us by the Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21).
And James tells us unequivocally “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says,” for when we do, then we are blessed, “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it–not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it–they will be blessed in what they do” (James 1:21-25).
How do we delve this spiritual growth catalyst?
The Bible is a big book. Where do you start? How should you and I progress our way through it all of our lifetime?
Here’s a simple plan for how to pick up your Bible with purpose on any given day. It is a plan with several benefits built in, which we’ll discover as we walk through this.
This plan, the 5+1+1, works on the numeric day of the month. Let’s say today is the first day of the month, number 1. Now I’m not great at anything more than the simplest calculations in my head, but even I can do 5 and 10 times tables. So I know if I can do this, you can, too. Here’s how it works:
Read 5 Psalms each day. If today is the first day of the month, then 1 x 5 = 5, so I read chapters 1 through 5. If today were the 2nd day of the month, 2 x 5 = 10, so I’d read chapters 6 through 10. And so on.
Here’s the amazing thing: You’ll read Psalms every month, because there are 150 chapters, 5 for every 30 days. And here’s the significant benefit: Psalms are prayers and praises to God.
The Word itself teaches us how to pray and praise! You’ll identify with the Psalms in their highs and lows, life’s joys and sorrows. You’ll learn how to pour out your heart and soul in song and prayer. You’ll experience intimacy with the Almighty like never before. Beautiful!
Read 1 chapter of Proverbs every day. Again, follow the day of the month plan. For example, if today is the 17th day of the month, then read chapter 17.
Here’s the amazing thing: You’ll read Proverbs every month since there are 31 chapters, one for each day of any month. And here’s the significant benefit: We need God’s wisdom. For everything. That’s what Proverbs is in a concentrated format: God’s wisdom for daily life.
In it God addresses all our values, from money and family, work, to sex and relationships, politics, and more. Being in Proverbs daily will help you form biblical values, Godly wisdom for how to interpret each situation and conversation, and how to walk through all your life—and share that wisdom in love and grace with others, too. Beautiful!
1 more chapter:
If you’re not already in a reading plan or book, start with Matthew and the New Testament. After a while, alternate them—chapter by chapter or even by whole books—with those from the Old Testament. In fact, depending on your day, schedule and time available for you, you certainly don’t have to limit your daily time elsewhere in the Word to a single chapter.
And here’s an extra helpful hint: If you read three chapters each day—aside from Psalms and Proverbs—you’ll read the entire Bible each year. Beautiful!
Two Explosive Additives: Journaling + Accountability
If you add journaling—keeping your own daily record of your Bible reading (just the references of what you read) plus those verses that “spoke” to you the most, your prayer requests, answers to prayer, and your own thoughts—and asking a close friend to be your Bible reading accountability partner, these are like casting explosive additives onto the fire of your daily time in the Word. Your spiritual life—and all other areas—will truly be not just informed, but transformed, which is the goal: A life transformed into the image of Jesus Christ.
God bless you as you delve 5+1+1 into the Word starting today!