How can I make time for the Bible?
I don't think it's merely a function of time. It's a function of earnestness and a function of faith.
A person must build into their life a regular encounter with God, personally and quietly over the Word. I think the early morning is the best time, because it sets the tone for the whole day. If that, for some reason, can't work then midday or evening.
What I mean is getting the Bible, getting the time, having the place. Make sure it's planned. And then meditate on a portion of Scripture: a chapter, verses, several chapters, depending on what you can do. Memorize some phrase that is just precious in it.
This morning I just memorized, "He will write on your heart his law, and he will put his spirit within you and cause you to walk in his statutes." That was my little nugget that I took away from this morning's devotions so that I could, all day long, reassure myself that God would do that.
You don't have to have hours and hours with God every day, but you do need to have time with God orienting your mind, taking something into your heart, letting your heart express itself to God in communion, taking faith's renewal and walking with God through the day, reminding yourself of what you saw in the morning.
I don't think you need to be a "professional" preacher like me in order to enjoy deep and glorious things with God. In fact, some of the deepest saints that I've ever met that outshine me have not been "professional" Christians like me.
How would you counsel someone to begin anew who hasn't read their Bible in a long time?
I would encourage them to be both individually focused on the Bible and get in to a good church or a good small group that loves the Bible.
In other words, I want the encounter with the Bible to be individual, because we must meet God one by one. The line into heaven is single file. And yet, I know that God has designed for us to be taught and exhorted by each other, and that the word comes alive when we hear what it has meant to somebody else and what they see in the Scriptures.
So I'd say two things:
- Get yourself a new Bible, say, an English Standard Version (ESV). I'm not too concerned about which version. But get a fresh Bible. And then begin a reading program in the New Testament and some in the Old Testament.
- But get yourself into a church or into a small group where they love the Bible: the Bible is preached, the Bible is taught.
And these two things—your personal encounter with the Bible plus your own exposure to what God is teaching you through other people about the Bible—will cause the Bible to come alive again, I believe, as you pray and ask the Lord to do it.