Recently, our young adults spent their Winter Retreat focusing on reading the Bible together aloud. No special speaker, no DVD teaching. They simply gathered and read as much of the New Testament as possible over the weekend.
They read through I Corinthians, completing 149 chapters. They have 111 to go. Good for them, for Bible engagement makes a difference in our lives.
According to the Center for Bible Engagement, the life of someone who engages scripture four or more times a week looks radically different from the life of someone who does not. The Center calls this regular Bible interaction “The Power of Four.”
The Center compiled research after surveying over 400,000 persons ages 8 and 80, from 24 countries, over 75 denominations, and from all walks of life. The survey revealed the lives of believers who do not engage the Bible are statistically the same as non-believers. Someone who reads the Bible four or more times a week is:
God’s Word makes a powerful difference, but only if we open it, read it, and apply it to our lives. The scriptures are spiritual nourishment that propels our spiritual growth. I Peter 2:2 reads, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that you may grow up into salvation.”
Spiritual transformation doesn’t happen automatically. Jerry Bridges said, “There is absolutely no shortcut to holiness that bypasses or gives little priority to a consistent intake of the Bible” (Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness).
Thankfully, in some circles, Bible engagement is increasing. The YouVersion family of Bible apps saw a dramatic increase of installs and usage in 2023.
Specifically, according to YouVersion CEO Bobby Gruenewald, installs increased by more than 100 million devices while the previous record was 76 million installs. Compared to 2022, daily Bible use grew by 20%, representing about 12 million people using the Bible app each day.
The number one most looked up, highlighted, and shared verse in 2023? Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
“From a global perspective, we’ve all been through a lot in the last few years, so it’s no surprise that people continue to feel drawn to the hope and peace promised in Isaiah 41:10,” Gruenewald said.
“Even though there’s a lot of fear and anxiety around the world,” he said, “it’s encouraging to see people continue to cling to God and His Word in their greatest moments of need.”
When I was undergoing monthly cancer treatments, I quoted and clung to God’s promises in Isaiah 41:10 as I sat, waiting to be called back. When we consistently engage the Bible, we not only mature spiritually, but also find words of hope, comfort, and encouragement such as found in Isaiah 41:10.
Which verses round out the top ten scriptures viewed, highlighted, and shared in 2023? Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28; Matthew 6:33; Joshua 1:9; Philippians 4:8; I Peter 5:7; Philippians 4:13; 2 Timothy 1:7; John 3:16.
I challenge you to love the scriptures enough to read them at least five days a week. Find a time that works for you. Morning is best for me because I want whatever God says in my reading to set the tone for my day. Let Bible reading become as much a personal habit as brushing your teeth first thing in the morning. Can you imagine walking around all day with unbrushed teeth and morning breath?
Find a place that is your place for a quiet time with God. Just you, your Bible, and God.
Start reading. I recommend starting in Mark’s gospel along with a Proverbs daily and a Psalm daily. Then expand into Genesis and other Old Testament books. Plenty of Bible reading plans can be viewed on the internet. Find one that gives variety and stick with it.
Then memorize verses as a spiritual discipline. Hiding God’s Word in our heart will come in handy when temptation arises, or hard times come. Begin with the top ten list above. Let God’s Word make a difference in your life.