Have you ever gotten lost in the woods or become disoriented on an open country hike? If so, I hope you had a compass, the most valuable tool for finding your way. The sun can approximate your direction, or moss may grow on the north side of a tree, but a compass provides the clarity needed to regain your bearings (and there’s an app for that). When it comes to business and life, it is easy to get turned around. Whether your path for 2014 is well established or you suffer from a serious lack of direction, you need a compass that can guide you out of the maze or reassure you about your current path.
The Bible is like a compass. God’s Book is true and reliable. In our day there is ready access to this incredible resource. Bibles come in a variety of sizes, shapes and translations (again, apps abound for tablets and smart phones–my favorite is the ESV Study Bible). Study bibles are extremely helpful for the rookie or seasoned student of the Word. Maybe you have never thought of the Bible as a compass for business and life, but it is more than a “religious book” that is only relevant for your “spiritual life.”
You may be thinking it would be great to read the Bible one day, but it seems like too much trouble to decipher. Would you refuse to learn how to use a portable GPS before hiking in the Himalayas? Several years ago I used one to lead a missions team to some Indian communities that aren’t on any map. It was hard enough to find my way out with technology. I wouldn’t have dreamed of turning down the only thing guaranteed to lead me home in the right direction. The Creator of the universe has given us a sure compass to use, wherever you find yourself today. Psalm 119:105 exclaims, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Let me challenge you to set aside some daily time to draw from the ageless wisdom and timeless truth in its pages. It has the power to lead you to salvation, hope, wisdom and peace. Here are some ways to tackle this task:
1. Think of the Bible as spiritual food. Jeremiah 15:16 says, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart . . .” When it comes to nutrition, we need to eat the right foods every day for fuel and good health. You wouldn’t try to eat enough in one day to last whole month. Taking in and digesting spiritual food will sustain you and allow spiritual healing, renewal and growth.
2. Choose a translation you can understand. The English Standard Version (ESV), New American Standard Bible (NASB) and New International Version (NIV) are all reliable and readable translations. For reading long passages you might enjoy a paraphrase like The Message, or an informal version like the New Living Translation (NLT).
3. Pick a reading plan that fits your lifestyle. Whether you are veteran of the Scriptures or a new recruit, there is a reading plan to encourage and inspire you. There are plans that already divide the Bible into daily readings. One month you can read a chapter a day of Proverbs (there are 31). One Psalm a day will keep you busy for five months (there are 150). Read through the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) for four distinct points of view on Jesus’ life—those 89 chapters will easily carry you for three months. Read straight through the Bible in a year, two years . . . or five. Find a comfortable pace and you’ll be more likely to stay consistent. Other ideas can be considered at http://www.bibleplan.org/ or www.heartlight.org/devotionals/reading_plans/ .
4. Schedule a specific time for reading God’s Word. You schedule important meetings on your calendar so plan your day around Bible reading just as you would a regular board meeting or a time for returning emails or making phone calls.
5. Pray before you read. In Psalm 119:18, the Psalmist prays, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” Here is a prayer you could pray: “Lord, You know what I need. Open my eyes to Your truth and give me a teachable heart so I might receive what You have for me, today.”
6. Take time to process and apply what you understand. Don’t worry about what you don’t! Jot down complicated passages to come back to later or study with a resource book. Find a small group to discuss and grapple and debate with—this is the pattern of devoted disciples over the centuries. Thankfully we have the Holy Spirit as a “teacher” and “helper”. He promises to guide you into the truth over a lifetime (John 14:26, 16:13).
7. Look for one takeaway each time you read. Regardless of what you read in one sitting, my encouragement is to search for one truth and its implications for your life that very day. It may be a word or a phrase that speaks directly to you. Recently I was reading Psalm 32 which contains several different themes; but that day, I needed to meditate on verse 8: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you with my eye on you. That image of a God as my counselor was what I needed to take with me for the rest of the day.
Now quit feeling guilty if you haven’t started your year with a compass in your pocket. Today—or any day is a great day to get your bearings and head out on a new path.
Serving Him with you in the marketplace,
Lord, from everything I can discern from scripture only two things last forever—Your Word and our souls. Help me draw truth that transforms me from the vast treasures of Your Book. Enable me take advantage of the wisdom and guidance that You dictated to holy men ages ago. You know my desire to be faithful in reading and reflection this year, so I ask You to help me follow through.
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever”