Kate Short encourages us to read 'Before You Open Your Bible' by Matt Smethurst and join the book discussion at 8pm on Thursday 11th June...
We live in a world which offers quick fixes. If you take a look at the front page of magazines or TV adverts, we’re sold false promises that whatever problem we have can be solved in just a few short steps or in one product.
As we approach the Christian life, I think we quite often like to find the ‘one solution solves all’ book or sermon that is going to drag us out of spiritual lethargy and set our faith ablaze; the podcast that will re-energise our often weak prayer lives or poor Bible reading habits.
I don’t think those sermons or books exist. I think we all know that deep down our lukewarm attitude in our relationship with Jesus is a heart issue - our prayer lives and Bible reading habits are weak because we don’t treasure Jesus and because our hearts are so easily distracted and enticed by other things.
But, if there was ever going to be a book that would provide the answer to our lazy Bible-reading, then I think it’s this one.
Matt Smethurst takes us through nine heart attitudes we should aim for when approaching the Bible. We can be so familiar with lots of the Bible’s content that we have lost the wonder and astonishment of knowing that it is God choosing to speak to us, choosing to communicate. We see in its pages God ‘choosing to forfeit his personal privacy to befriend us’. We have intimate access to the mind of God and his plan to rescue his people. The book wows us again with the privilege it is to be able to see some of the Creator’s thoughts and plans, especially given that our hearts are naturally bent against him.
The book is short, but in it Smethurst targets our heart issues directly and practically. He calls out our lackadaisical, lazy minds but in doing so reminds us that the Author of the Bible wants us to flourish, he wants us to live lives filled with joy, no longer enslaved but free to live for and know him as we were originally designed. He reminds us of God’s eternal, miraculous and abundant grace and this reminder is the fuel for consistent, joy-filled Bible reading.
I don’t want to give away any spoilers, I’ll let you read the book yourself and we can chat about it on Thursday, but if you’re feeling dry in your relationship with God’s Word, you’re finding it difficult to fit into your day or you are easily distracted when reading, then please can I urge you to read it. God’s Word is a ‘recurring feast’ and the more we read the more we experience this; ‘Before You Open Your Bible’ prepares our hearts to unpack and discover the banquet.
Have a think about some of these questions as you read:
1. What is your relationship with God’s Word at the moment?
2. What stops you from reading the Bible?
3. What encouraged you in the book?
4. How has it re-oriented your view of Bible reading?
5. What challenged you in the book?
5. How would you like to change as a result of reading it?
I’d love to see you again for a casual chat about the book over Zoom on Thursday 11th June.