I like New Year’s resolutions. About 60% of Americans will join with me and make them over the next few days as we head into 2020. Here is the most important one that you can make: read the Bible daily.
It is the single biggest predictor of your spiritual growth in 2020.
This fact has been demonstrated by lots of studies, and it is taught by the Word of God itself.
Dr. John Farquhar Plake may be the world’s leading expert on Bible engagement and spiritual growth. He has studied all the research on spiritual formation available through the massive studies by Reveal (Willow Creek), LifeWay, and every other major organization. And then, recently, as part of his work for the American Bible study, he reviewed a comprehensive survey of 600,000 churchgoing adults and Christian university students. In a recent conversation, he told me it all points to the same conclusion.
Plake summarizes it this way: an individual’s relationship with the Bible is the single most powerful predictor of his or her overall spiritual health.
That is important information as you make your New Year’s resolutions. Every experienced church leader that I know would concur. But, most importantly, this is also what the Word of God itself teaches us.
The apostle Paul tells us that faith comes from exposure to God’s Word in Romans 10:14-17:
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? . . . Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
D.L. Moody describes how faith develops this way:
“I prayed for Faith, and thought that some day Faith would come down and strike me like lightening. But Faith did not seem to come. One day I read in the tenth chapter of Romans. . . . I had closed my Bible, and prayed for faith. I now opened my Bible, and began to study, and Faith has been growing ever since.”
This same principle is taught in Hebrews 4:12:
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Isaiah 55:10-12 describes the effect of God’s Word in poetic language:
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace.
Notice that impact of God’s Word? It does not return empty, it achieves what God desires and his purposes . . . and it causes people to go out in joy and peace.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 sums up the role of God’s Word in our lives this way:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
One more point for emphasis. There are many priorities as you consider your New Year’s resolutions. Lots of people will be talking about losing weight and physical workouts. But what is more important than your spiritual life? The apostle Paul puts it starkly for us in 1 Timothy 4:8:
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
So as you make New Year’s resolutions, make your spiritual growth your top priority. And when you do that, make a plan to be in the Word of God daily.
Here are three good resources with daily Bible reading plans: