Nothing gives you perspective, hope, guidance, direction, wisdom and encouragement like the Holy Bible – it’s a remarkable book. I remember years ago hearing Henry Blackaby say “When you read the Word, it’s as if you’re staring right in the face of God.” That always comforted and excited me to think about.

As Christians and Church leaders, we desire to have the fruits of the Spirit flow through us and out of us. Thanks to the book The Spirit of the Disciplines I read years ago, I learned that the fruit of the Spirit is something that happens naturally when we have a steady, real and vibrant relationship with Christ.

I grew up in a youth group (like many of you I’m sure) where I was taught wrongly that we were supposed to “work” at each fruit. They would say, “This week we want you to concentrate on being gentle.” (or kind or patient, etc.) This is how I was brought up.

Reading that book as an adult, my eyes were opened to the reality that we can’t beat these fruits into us – they must develop overtime in prayer and the Word. And as we become more and more like Christ, our natural reaction when tough or unexpected things happen will be to react with gentleness, kindness, patience, self-control, etc.

As a youth, I heard a statement that has proven over the last 20 to 25 years to be the truest statement I’ve ever encountered. I wrote this statement on the inside of my main Bible. The statement is: “Either this book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this book.” Truer words were never spoken.

I have found time and time again that when I’m regularly in the Word, I’m far from sin and feel I’m truly walking in the Spirit (as opposed to walking in the flesh). I’ve also realized many times in hindsight that after wrestling with sin in my life for a season, I was away from my devotional time and didn’t feel like picking up my Bible.

Maybe for you, you’re in the Bible regularly, but you’re looking for ammo – meaning you’re studying for your Sunday sermon, youth talk on Wednesday night, preparing a devotional for your small group, or looking for lyrics for a song you’re writing. Often, we as leaders, are in the Word for “business”, but we stop going to the Bible just to know God more and spend time hearing from Him. The challenge to all Church leaders is to read the Bible just for the pure pleasure of seeking to know the mind and heart of Christ and be transformed by the renewing of our mind. (Romans 12)

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” – Joshua 1:8

So… how’s your time in the Word? Do you just open the Bible in sermon prep or do you regularly read it just to know God more? Is reading regularly a struggle for you?

Greg Atkinson

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