The month of March has a special place in my life because it was during this month in 1977 that I came to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I want to reflect on the process that led to my conversion as a Christian and some of the factors which greatly influenced me during this pre-conversion time. In either November or December of 1976, I started reading through the biography of Joni Eareckson. This is her life story of the diving accident which made her a quadriplegic and its aftermath. I found her narrative amazing and fascinating. In the weeks leading up to Christmas 1976, I decided to set a goal to read through the Gospel of Mark. Because I wanted to mull over what I was reading, I took my time moving through the Gospel. I wasn’t necessarily reading even a chapter a day. I think I started reading through the Gospel of Mark because I found so many quotations from the Bible in Joni’s biography.
Even though I had attended church from infancy through my childhood and youth, I realized that I had never regularly read the Scriptures other than the times I heard the Scriptures read in church and Sunday School. So, at the age of 14, I decided that it was important for me to actually read the Scriptures on a daily basis so I could know the teaching of Scripture and at least be familiar with what the Bible said and taught. Christmas came, but I did not stop reading the Bible. Once I read through Mark’s Gospel, I moved on to John’s Gospel. And from November 1977 to the present day, I have made reading from Scripture a daily discipline. Reading through the Gospels made a huge impression on me. I believe that God used reading the Scripture as a crucial influence leading to my conversion to Jesus as my God and Savior.
I now want to pivot from the Scripture’s part in a believer’s conversion to the importance of reading and applying God’s Word in the life of a Christian believer.
The Psalmist says this in Psalm 119:164,165,
Psalm 119:164,165 says this,
“164 Seven times a day I praise You,
Because of Your righteous judgments.
165 Great peace have those who love Your law,
And nothing causes them to stumble.”
In order to praise God for holy law, to love His law, and to be kept from stumbling, we must read God’s Word. In order to apply the Holy Scripture to our lives, we must be familiar with its teachings.
I challenge each of us to read through one of the Gospels during Lent and then to continue to read some portion of Scripture throughout the year. I think it is important to ask ourselves the following questions as we read and study Scripture:
- How am I growing spiritually?
- What am I expecting God to do in my life?
- What from my reading of Scripture do I find challenging and hard to put into practice in my life?
I won’t give you any hints at my answers to questions 1 and 2 because they are a very individual, personal matters to reflect on. With regard to question #3, as I read through the Sermon on the Mount recently, I found our Lord’s words about not being anxious about tomorrow (Matthew 6:31-34), easy to understand but hard to do. Our Lord’s words about turning the other cheek and praying for those who treat you with contempt are difficult to do (Matthew 5:39-48). Having said that, even when we fail at many points to follow our Lord’s teaching, we should be encouraged to repent and ask God’s mercy to forgive us (again) and to plead for His help to obediently apply His Word to our hearts and lives.
Pastor Cedric R. Benner