Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: How often is Scripture read aloud in your church? Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss describing a lot of evangelical churches.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We want 45 minutes of music to make us feel good, and then we want to squeeze in maybe 25 minutes—and we endure that—of teaching and preaching, and in that teaching and preaching, may not even use the Bible.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Tuesday, January 6.

I hope you read out loud to your kids as often as you can. It’s good for them, and it’s good for you. That’s not the only context in which reading aloud is helpful, and Nancy will explain in a series called Getting into the Word, and Getting the Word into You.

Nancy: This month we’re challenging our listeners to do the one thing that I think if you will do this, will make a bigger difference than any single other factor in your spiritual growth and life over the next year, and that is to read your Bible, to have some time each day that you’re in the Word, listening to the Lord, and then responding to His Word in prayer and worship and praise.

We’re encouraging you, if you’re not in this habit already, to take a 30-day challenge that every day for the next 30 days you will spend some time each day alone with the Lord in the Word and in prayer.

I’ll just tell you, with 40 years of experience, the devil will fight you at every front when you try to make this commitment. He does not want you to get this time. He doesn’t want you to enjoy it; he doesn’t want it to be a blessing to you because he knows it will change your life if you persevere with it. So I want to give the challenge, and over the next few sessions, we’re going to talk about how to read the Word, but I want to start in this session by saying we need to read the Word. That’s the starting place.

Let me read to you an email we received from a woman after we gave the 30-day challenge last year. She said,

I’ve now read the Bible cover to cover for the ninth year in a row. It becomes sweeter and sweeter with each passing year. I’m always amazed at how fresh and yet familiar it is every day.

The time I spend with the Lord is the most important time of my day. I could not make it through life without this time with Him. I may miss it occasionally, but I try to make up the reading and the time. I hope many listening will take the challenge. What a blessing it will be for them.

I just hope that testimony will encourage you, if you don’t have this habit, to get started in the habit of setting aside some time every day to read the Word of God.

Some people say they can’t understand the Bible. I will be the first to admit that there are parts in the Bible that are hard to understand. Even the apostle Peter said that Paul’s writings were hard to understand, and if Peter had a hard time understanding some of the teaching of the Scripture, then it’s not surprising that we would as well. But I believe that the biggest reason people don’t understand the Bible or say they don’t get anything out of it is simply that they don’t read it.

The Bible is something that in order to get it into your life, into your system, to get something out of it, to come to enjoy it and understand it takes some effort. It takes work. It takes time. It takes perseverance. It takes reading it.

John Quincy Adams was the sixth president of the United States, and he said,

I have for many years made it a practice to read through the Bible once every year. . . . So great is my respect for the Bible that the earlier my children begin to read it, the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens of their country and respectable members of society.

Get your children reading the Scripture. You say, “I have children. How can I have a quiet time?” Moms, teach your children to have a quiet time, and let them know that when you are wanting to read the Word of God, there’s this time of the day that you’ve set aside for reading the Scripture. Encourage your children, as they get old enough, to be reading, or you reading to them, or them reading with you, and then as they get old enough, to read for themselves, and that becomes a part of their life as well.

There’s so many references in the Scripture to reading the Word of God. Let me just highlight several of those.

First of all, we see in Revelation chapter 1, verse 3, that there’s a blessing promised to those who read the Bible. Revelation 1, verse 3, says, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.”

Last year, at the end of the year, I came across this verse as I was coming to the end of my reading through the Bible, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy.” Some of the translations don’t have that word aloud, but I was reading in the English Standard Version, and it says, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy.”

And I thought, “If there’s a blessing to be had from reading God’s Word out loud, I want to have that blessing.” So as I was coming to the end of the Bible, I took the book of Revelation, and on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day—I split it up in two segments—I read aloud through the book of Revelation—just read it out loud. What a blessing it was to me at that time, but, by faith, I also believe it’s also going to be a blessing in the days ahead. It’s a blessing promised if we read God’s Word.

On more than one occasion in the Old Testament, revival actually broke out when God’s people began to read the Word of God that had, up to that point, been neglected. Nehemiah chapter 8 describes one of those instances.

Nehemiah 8, verse 1, says,

All the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel. [So all they had was that Old Testament law.]

So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. [That means there were young people and children there as well.] And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.

And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood.

I love that, by the way. They do that in the church I attend. They stand for the reading of God’s Word. I think there’s something very precious and significant about that as we give honor to the Word of God.

Then verse 8 tells us that the Levites

read from the . . . Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading” (verses 1-2, 5, 8). 

I want to just remind you that we do have resources available here at Revive Our Hearts that will help you understand the Word of God.

So the people stood, the Levites read from the law—we’re back in Nehemiah 8.

And they gave the sense so that the people understood the reading . . . The people went their way to eat and to drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them (verses 8 & 12). 

When the people heard the Word, when they obeyed it, when they understood it, when they committed themselves to it, God sent revival, and the people left with great joy.

Well, we see a lot of other references in the Scripture to reading the Word. In the Gospels, Jesus said to His critics, “Have you not read in the Law . . . ?” (Matthew 12:3, 5; cf. 19:4). And then He would quote to them what they supposedly knew but weren’t doing. “Have you never read in the Scriptures . . . ?” (Matthew 21:42; cf. 21:16). He expected them to have read the Scripture, and when they needed to be corrected, what did He do? He sent them back to the Scripture, to read what God said.

Think of that passage in Acts chapter 8, where the Ethiopian eunuch was reading the scroll of the book of Isaiah, and as he did, his eyes were opened, and God gave his heart faith and repentance and salvation. As he was reading, God brought someone along who was able to help him understand what he was reading, and his life was transformed.

We see frequently in the New Testament epistles that the public reading and the exposition of the Word of God is supposed to be a priority in our churches. Repeatedly we see this.

Colossians chapter 4, Paul says, “When this letter has been read among you,”—this letter to the Colossians—“have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea” (verse 16). Read the Word of God in the church. Well, you would think, “That sounds obvious,” but it must not be so obvious. Paul must have known we would have a tendency to drift to doing other things at church, and so he emphasized reading the Scripture at church.

First Thessalonians 5, “I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers” (verse 27, NIV).

First Timothy 4, verse 13, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” “Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation”—that is helping people understand the Word. Teaching: What does it say? What does it mean? What should we do about it as a result?

There’s a trend today, and I’m not so sure it’s really new, but I’m just becoming more aware of it—a trend in the evangelical world to do away with the teaching and the reading of Scripture. Now we would never say, “We’re not going to teach or read the Scripture.” But think about many of the conferences and services, church services, spiritual programs that we go to, and think about how often you actually hear the Word of God read and taught in those conferences and in those church services today.

As you, by the way, move to a new area perhaps, and you’re selecting a church for your family, look for a church that reads and teaches the Word of God—not just good principles, not just testimonies, not just good teaching about principles of spiritual things, but actually teaching the Word of God.

Today we want to be entertained instead. We want 45 minutes of music to make us feel good, and then we want to squeeze in maybe 25 minutes—and we endure that—of teaching and preaching, and in that teaching and preaching, may not even use the Bible.

I remember going to a Christian women’s conference and being astounded about the fact that there was virtually no Scripture used during the duration of that conference. There were a lot of spiritual things talked about, a lot of stories told, a lot of examples, a lot of humor, a lot of moving stories, but the Word of God was conspicuous by its absence.

That may be fun, it may be entertaining, but it will leave us spiritually impoverished, spiritually anemic, because when we go back to our homes from those conferences or those church services, we’re going back to the same circumstances, the same needs, the same vacuum in our heart, the same struggles, and we will not be at all changed if we have not been under the reading and preaching and teaching of the Word of God.

You may not be able to control what they do in your church, but you can control what you do in your home, in your schedule, in your day, and don’t be critical if your church isn’t reading the Word of God if you aren’t reading the Word of God. Read the Scripture. Devote yourself to the reading of the Word of God, and I promise you it will change your life.

Leslie: Okay, so maybe you’ve been hearing Nancy Leigh DeMoss here on Revive Our Hearts, and you’re ready for a consistent habit of reading God’s Word. How do you start? And what if you hit some snags? In her book, A Place of Quiet Rest, Nancy describes the barriers to a rich, full devotional life.

She’s experienced those barriers. She’s also developed some effective strategies for a consistent time in the Bible, and she shares those in the book as well. When you read A Place of Quiet Rest, you’ll understand why you should read the Bible, how to understand it, and how to apply it, and how to stick with it.

When you make a donation of any size to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll show our thanks by sending the book, A Place of Quiet Rest. Call us at 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHeartsRadio.com.

Now Nancy is back to explain one of the strategies for getting more out of the Bible.

Nancy: I want to suggest that you read the Word of God prayerfully—prayerfully, that you pray before you read, as you read, and after you read, asking God to teach you, to give you understanding of His Word, to open up to you portions that are difficult to grasp, to make familiar passages become fresh to you.

That’s a danger, those of us who’ve been reading through the Word of God, as I have been, for the last 40 years. We come to some of these passages that are so familiar, and our eyes start to glaze over—I’ve been there, heard that, seen that, done that. Well, as we pray, we’re asking the Lord:

  • Will You make this fresh to me?
  • Would You make it alive to my heart today?
  • We’re asking God to reveal Himself through His Word, to show us His heart and His ways.

For several years, there’s a prayer that I have prayed almost every day before I start to read the Scripture. It comes from several verses in the Psalms and one in the book of Job, but these are the words that I pray—I make this my prayer as I’m starting to read the Scripture.

I pray, “Oh Lord, open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your Law. Give me understanding, and I will keep your Law and obey it with all my heart. Show me Your ways, oh Lord. Teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long. That which I see not, teach Thou me. If I have done iniquity, I will do no more.”

So, before I begin to read the Word of God, I pray that prayer, and I sometimes just do it by rote, but I try to pray it thinking about what I’m praying and asking the Lord to do this work in my heart.

Now, as I pray that prayer, there are two things I’m expressing to the Lord. The first is, I’m acknowledging that I need Him to help me as I read this Book, that I’m dependent upon His Holy Spirit, that this is not an ordinary book I’m about to read. It’s supernatural. It was inspired by the Holy Spirit, it was written by God, and I cannot get it if the Author of this Book doesn’t help me understand. So I’m asking Him to teach me, to give me understanding.

Jesus told His disciples that He was going to send the Holy Spirit as a Counselor, to teach them and to guide them into all Truth, and 1 Corinthians 2 tells us that the natural person—the person who doesn’t have Christ in his life—cannot understand the things of God. That’s why the Bible is a dead book to unbelievers.

And, by the way, if you cannot get anything out of the Word of God, you may want to ask yourself, “Am I really a child of God?” Because if the Author of this Book really lives in your heart, and you let Him, He will open up the things of God to you. We need the Holy Spirit who inspired this Book to give us understanding. Do you lack wisdom? Ask God, and He’ll give it to you. We need to ask Him to be our Teacher, to shine His light on this Book.

We’ve been looking at Psalm 119, and let’s just read several verses from that one chapter, where the Psalmist prays a prayer, asking God to teach him. It happens over and over again. I’ll just give you a taste of it, beginning in verse 12 of Psalm 119, “Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes!”

Verse 26, “When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes.”

Verse 27, “Make me understand . . .” It’s a prayer—help me understand “the way of your precepts.”

Verse 29, “Graciously teach me your law!” He’s praying, “Lord, teach me.”

Verse 33, “Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.”

Verse 35, “Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.”

Verse 36, “Incline my heart to your testimonies.” Oh, Lord, give me a heart and a hunger for You and for Your Word.

Verse 64, “The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes.”

Verse 66, “Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments.”

Verse 68, “You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.”

Verse 73, “Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.” Lord, I need You. These words are just ink on a page if You don’t come and teach me, give me understanding, incline my heart toward Your commandments. And on it goes.

Verse 124, “Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love, and teach me your statutes.”

Verse 125, “I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies.”

I’m coming into the presence of the Lord, and I’m saying, “Oh God, I need You. I need Your Holy Spirit to open up this Book and communicate life to me—not just to help me understand it intellectually, but teach my heart Your ways. Teach me Your ways, Oh, Lord. Show me Your paths. God, I want to get to know You.”

When I take that position of a learner saying, “Please teach me,” I’m humbling myself before God. I’m not coming as the great Bible teacher. When I come to my quiet time, I’m coming, not as an authority on the Word of God, not as a teacher of the Word of God, I’m coming as a learner. I’m coming and saying, “God, teach me. Please teach me. Open up this Book. Show me Your ways.”

Now, not only am I asking Him to teach me and acknowledging my need of Him, but I’m also committing to God, ahead of the fact, that whatever He says to me through His Word, I will do it. I will obey it.

Verse 60 of Psalm 119, “I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands” (NIV).

Verse 34, “Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart” (NIV).

This is so important because, as we get into the Word, we’re going to find things that run counter to the way we’re living. The Word of God is like a mirror—it’s going to show us what’s on our face. It’s going to show us what’s in our heart. It’s going to show us where we’ve gone wrong.

Over and over again, as the Word of God does that, it brings conviction into my heart. It’s so important that before I read, I pray, and I say, “Lord, whatever You say to me in this Book, whether I agree with it or not, whether I like it or not, whether I understand it or not, whether it makes sense—if it goes counter to everything that I ever thought to be true, everything everyone else told me to be true, I will obey what Your Word says.”

We have today an evangelical world—and let me just speak to us as women in particular—not that it’s not true of men, but I’m just speaking to us as women—we have women filling our churches, our evangelical churches, who read the Bible, who study it, who teach it to others in some cases, who know a lot about the Word, but their lives are not being lived consistently with the Word of God.

They’re making decisions and value calls and judgments and choosing priorities that are directly and specifically contrary to the Word of God. So how do we deal with that? We start by saying, “Lord, whatever You show me, I will obey.”

By the way, why should God take the time to teach you His Word if you’re not committed to doing what it says? God’s Word is not a cafeteria where we just go and pick and choose what we like, what makes us feel good for that day. It’s got some hard things in it—some things that are not as easy to digest. It’s got medicine, and sometimes medicine doesn’t taste good, but we need it.

I have to say, as I go into the Word, I’m reading it prayerfully, and not only before I read it, but as I read it and after I read it. “Lord whatever You’ve said to me, I will keep Your Law. I will do it. I will obey it, by Your grace and by the power of Your Holy Spirit.”

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back to pray.

She just described a type of Bible reading that is a lot more full and exciting that many people experience. I hope you’ll learn how to get more out of the Bible and why time alone with God is so important. Nancy describes both in the book, A Place of Quiet Rest, and you’ll approach your devotional life differently after reading this book.

We’d like to send you a copy when you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Just ask for A Place of Quiet Rest when you donate by phone. Dial 1-800-569-5959, or donate online at ReviveOurHeartsRadio.com. At that website, we’ll give you a chance to indicate your interest in the book.

Tomorrow, learn the value of reading God’s Word thoughtfully, and now, let’s pray. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: Lord, I think of the words of Frances Ridley Havergal, the hymn writer who said, “Master, speak, and make me ready when Thy voice is truly heard, with obedience glad and steady, still to follow every word.”1

Oh Lord, help us to have a hunger to read Your Word. May we read it prayerfully, asking You to teach us, to open it up to us, to show us its riches, to show us Yourself in it. And may we read it in submission, with surrendered hearts, saying, “Lord, whatever You say, gladly and steadily I will obey and follow Your every word.”

Thank You for this Word that is Life, and may we eat of it, partake of it, be filled with it, and may it change us and conform us into Your image. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

1Frances Ridley Havergal, “Master, Say On!” 1867.

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