In the Bible, in the New Testament, we read these words recorded in 2 Timothy 3:16-17,
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
Again in the New Testament, in Romans 15:4, the Apostle Paul tells us,
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”
In the Book of Mormon, which is Another Testament of Jesus Christ, the ancient prophet Nephi, as recorded in 1 Nephi 19:23, had this to say regarding the value of the scriptures,
“And I did read many things unto them which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.”
And the Savior Himself taught us to, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes inadvertently called the Mormon church), the scriptures are valuable to me not only for my personal study time, but I also use them extensively in my church callings as I teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to others. I will always be grateful that I was introduced to the Scriptures at an early age. As a young boy growing up in our home there were always one or more copies of the Bible readily available, and my mother taught my older brother, two younger sisters, and me to have a sincere respect and love for God’s Word. That early exposure to the scriptures has had a lasting effect upon my life. As I grow older, my love and appreciation for the scriptures grows deeper and greater. Daily scripture reading is an intimate part of my life. I have found that there is no greater joy in my life than to feast daily at the banqueting table of God’s Word. It is through God’s Word that I find joy, peace, happiness, comfort, and most of all a deeper love and admiration for the Savior.
I would like to share with you four vital steps in making the scriptures an intimate part of your own daily life. Those four steps are: (1) read the scriptures, (2) memorize portions of the scriptures, (3) meditate upon the scriptures, (4) be obedient to the scriptures.
Read the Scriptures (Nehemiah 8:3)
One of the last gifts that I bought for my mother was a Bible. Each day she would spend time reading a portion of the scriptures. When she was too sick or too weak to read the scriptures on her own she would have my younger sister read to her or she would listen to the scriptures being read to her via cassette tape or CD. In addition to reading the scriptures, my mother also kept a notebook where she would write down some of her favorite scripture passages. If my mother could take the time to read the scriptures in her condition, then what excuse do we who have our health and strength have for not spending some time each day in reading the scriptures?
Reading the scriptures is a very important part of communicating God’s Word to God’s people. In ancient Israel and in the early church, public scripture reading was a regular part of the worship services. Today we are blessed above all people in history because we do not have to depend on someone reading the scriptures for us as there are enough copies of the scriptures, in many different languages, that are readily available so that each person can have their own personal copy and read and study the scriptures for themselves. Here are a few suggestions to help you in receiving the greatest benefit from reading the scriptures:
1. Read the scriptures prayerfully. Invite the Holy Spirit to meet your heart’s needs as you read (see Psalm 119:18).
2. Read the scriptures thoughtfully. Don’t just read the words on the page, but take the time to ponder the meaning of what you are reading and how it can be applied to your daily life.
3. Read the scriptures carefully. Take careful note of not only how words are used in a particular passage, but how that word(s) relate to the overall meaning of the particular passage that you are reading. One thing that I have found to be useful when I am reading and studying the scriptures is to keep a notepad near by to keep track of any questions that I may wish to research or of passages that have significant meaning to me
4. Read the scriptures repeatedly. Repetition breeds habit. The more that we repeat something, the more that it becomes a part of us. I can personally testify to you that having now read the Bible 8 times, the Book of Mormon 9 times, and the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price 13 times, each in their entirety, has had a tremendous impact in my life. I personally do not believe tha a person can read the blessed pages of scripture repeatedly and not have their life changed in some manner.
5. Read the scriptures extensively. Sometimes it may help to read large portions of scripture at one sitting. If you choose to do this, do it at a time when you are most alert, and not likely to be disturbed by outside distractions.
6. Read the scriptures regularly. Develop a scripture reading schedule that works best for you and be determined to stick to it.
7. Read the scriptures faithfully. Don’t get discouraged if you get behind in your reading schedule. Faithfully resume reading where you left off the last time that you were reading. Remember, it is not a race to see how fast you can read the scriptures, but the important thing is that you understand what you are reading.
8. Read the scriptures obediently. Because the scriptures are God’s words written to us, it is essential that we are obedient to what is written therein.
I would like to share the following story from the teachings of President Spencer W. Kimball, one of the Prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes inadvertently called by the Mormon church) concerning the importance of scriptures and scripture study (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, page 130):
With diligence one can read all of the scriptures. From infancy I enjoyed the simplified and pictorial Bible stories, but the original Bible seemed so interminable in length, so difficult of understanding that I had avoided it until a challenge came to me from Sister Susa Young Gates. She was the speaker at the MIA meeting of stake conference and gave a discourse on the value of reading the Bible. In conclusion she asked for a showing of hands of all who had read it through. The hands that were raised out of that large congregation were so few and so timid! It seemed that some of them were trying to explain: “We haven’t read it through but we have done much studying of parts of it.” I was shocked into an unalterable determination to read the great book.
As soon as I reached home after the meeting I began with the first chapter of Genesis and continued faithfully every day with reading. Most of the reading was done in my attic bedroom which I occupied alone. I burned considerable midnight oil and read long hours when I was thought to be asleep.
Approximately a year later I reached the last verse in Revelation. It was formidable, but I knew that if others did it that I could do it.
I found that there were certain parts [of the Bible] that were hard for a fourteen-year-old boy to understand. There were some pages that were not especially interesting to me, but when I had read the 66 books and 1,189 chapters and 1,519 pages, I had a glowing satisfaction that I had made a goal and that I had achieved it.
Now, I am not telling you that story to boast; I am merely using this as an example to say that if I could do it by coal-oil light, you can do it by electric light. I have always been glad I read the Bible from cover to cover.
Memorize Portions of the Scriptures (Job 22:22).
We may not always be able to study the scriptures by physically reading them, but if we have memorized a portion of God’s Word, then we are able to gain valuable insights into its meaning at times when our scriptures are not readily available. I will cite just a few of the benefits gained from memorizing portions of scripture:
1. It keeps us from sinning (see m 119:11).
2. It provides comfort in times of trouble (see Psalm 119:52, 92).
3. It stays our mind upon God (see Psalm 43:3).
4. It provides daily sustenance for the spiritual life (see Deuteronomy 8:3).
5. It provides continual and ready guidance in all situations of life (see Proverbs 6:20-23).
6. It provides for formal and informal instruction of our children (see Deuteronomy 6:6, 7).
I would like to share another story from the teachings of President Spencer W. Kimball to help illustrate these points (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, page 131):
When I was nine years old, I milked nine cows each day at my home in Thatcher, Arizona. I thought, “What a waste of time, to sit on a three-legged stool. Maybe there is something else I could do while I am milking.” So I sang the songs of Zion until I knew all the well-known hymns that are generally sung. Then I said, “Well, I have got to have something more!”
So I got a copy of the Articles of Faith and put it on the ground right beside me and I went through them, over and over again, a thousand times. Then I got a copy of the Ten Commandments. I typed them up on cards and took them out with me where I milked and repeated them over and over until I knew them by heart.
Then, as I got a little closer to my mission, I typed the scriptures that I thought would be helpful to me and I learned them so that when I went on my mission I would be prepared for it. If every Latter-day Saint would do this, I think it would be a wonderful thing.
Meditate Upon the Scriptures (Joshua 1:8).
Reading and memorizing God’s Word provides the basis for meditating upon God’s Word. In Joshua 1:8 we see that Joshua was to meditate upon the Word of God day and night (i.e. at all times) and as a result he was promised prosperity and good success in the God given tasks that lay before him. We meditate upon the Word of God by rehearsing its thoughts over and over in order to understand its implications to the situations of life.
Be Obedient to the Scriptures (Deuteronomy 31:12).
Reading, memorizing, and meditating upon God’s Word are of no value if we are not obedient to God’s Word. To obey the Word of God means that we do what the Word of God indicates should be done in any situation. When we are obedient to the Word of God then we as children of God are found to be pleasing to God.
John the Baptist as recorded in the New Testament of the Bible, in John 8:32, tells us that we “. . . .shall know the truth, and the truth shall make [us] free.” The Psalmist would further declare in the Old Testament book of Psalms, as recorded in Psalms 119:89, “For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven,” And Jesus Christ Himself puts the final exclamation point in place in Matthew 24:35 and again in Mark 13:31 when He says, “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.”
In conclusion, let us all become more diligent students of God’s Word, the Holy Scriptures. Let us develop the attitude of the Bereans as recorded in the New Testament book of Acts 17:11 who “. . . .were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Let us always find ourselves feasting at the banqueting table of God’s Word.
Keith L. Brown is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and serves as the Ward Mission Leader in the Annapolis, Maryland Ward.