Sunday, 11 May 2014

The benefits of regular Bible reading – the inspiring example of George Mueller

George Mueller (see John Piper’s excellent biography here) was a 19th century British pastor who is best known for his care of orphans. He built five large orphan houses and cared for 10,024 orphans during his life, but in so doing inspired many others so that fifty years after he began his work, at least one hundred thousand orphans were cared for in England alone.

However Mueller did not consider his work amongst orphans to be his first priority.

In 1834 (when he was 28) he founded The Scripture Knowledge Institute for Home and Abroad which developed five branches:  1) Schools for children and adults to teach Bible knowledge, 2) Bible distribution, 3) missionary support, 4) tract and book distribution, and 5) to board, clothe and Scripturally educate destitute children who have lost both parents by death.

He did all this while he was preaching three times a week from 1830 to 1898, at least 10,000 times. And when he turned 70 he fulfilled a life-long dream of missionary work for the next 17 years until he was 87. He travelled to 42 countries, preaching on average of once a day, and addressing some three million people.

The foundation of Mueller’s success was his deep devotion to God’s word. He read his Bible from end to end almost 200 times during his lifetime, believing that it really was inspired by God and would make him ‘complete for every good work’ (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). It did!

Mueller’s knowledge of the Bible was the result of a lifetime of regular reading. Imagine how effective today’s church might be if we shared Mueller’s devotion to Scripture.

Like most Christians I have struggled in my own Bible reading and study over the years but have learnt that making time for it every day is a huge blessing and motivation in living the Christian life and walking closely with Jesus.

There are 1,189 chapters in the Bible altogether so reading just 3-4 chapters a day will get you through it in a year. This takes just fifteen minutes a day. To read it almost 200 times over 60 years, as Mueller did, would mean reading it through on average about once every four months, about ten chapters a day, or 45 minutes. When we look at it like this Mueller’s level of reading doesn’t look that impossible at all. It is simply a matter making it a priority.

There are lots of excellent Bible reading plans available on line (for example see here). The CMF Bible reading guide (free on request via our website) will take you through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice each year in a way that varies the input to maintain your interest.

Personally I have found the three bookmark method the most useful. I start with one bookmark in Genesis, one in Psalms and one in Matthew. I then read about seven chapters in total using the three bookmarks every day just after waking up and after making a big strong cup of tea. This gets me through the whole Bible in just under six months and then I start again with another version. It takes just half an hour a day. Doing it with my wife makes it easier – we keep each other to it and then pray together after we have read. We tend to read different parts of the Bible from each other which also gives the opportunity to share and talk about what we have each read later in the day.

In my past ministry with medical students I noticed that even around exam time, no matter how busy they were, they always found time to eat. Of course physical food is very important. But the spiritual food we get from the Word of God is even more important, and is much more satisfying. It’s all about priorities.

How about you? Do you have a system established to ensure you get your daily diet of God’s Word? If not, why not start today? Just fifteen minutes a day, three chapters, will get you through the Bible in just over a year. This may not quite be Mueller’s rate, but it will make an enormous difference to your life.

Remember Moses advice to Joshua: 'Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.' (Joshua 1:8) 

I finish with a poem devoted to Christian medical students struggling with Bible reading.

Plain Bible Reading

A medical student who crams
While reading for final exams
To accomplish the feat must remember to eat
To avoid losing thousands of grams

Maintaining one's state of nutrition
Will stave off cerebral attrition
And help to ensure one can ably endure
All those stresses that threaten cognition

In practice it's seldom one sees
In those seeking medic's degrees
One tell-tale effect of nutrition neglect
(Let alone kwashiorkor disease)

One wishes the same could be said
Of feeding on spiritual bread
But perusing the Word is more often deferred
Which results in it seldom being read

The Devil employs cunning schemes
But few so effective (it seems)
As curbing the feeding (the plain Bible reading)
Of those whom the Father redeems

5 comments:

  1. If the constant consumption of Internet pornography affects minds - then the constant reading of God's Word must lead to purification.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very true!

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    2. Further, the consumption of pornography must lead even Christian husbands astray as it will corrupt their emotions and then their minds.

      Moreover, then, if the above proposition is true - then reading God's word must also lead to faithfulness to God - and to one's wife.

      Delete
  2. For a fresh, new reading of George Mueller, see Simple Trust, Simple Prayers (http://www.amazon.com/Simple-Trust-Prayers-Life-Changing-Journals/dp/1616382759/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1399297089&sr=1-1&keywords=cindy+mallin ) It is a paraphrased edition, divided into 13 short chapters, with discussion & application questions.

    ReplyDelete
  3. its work great, many thanks :)

    ReplyDelete