Why We Need It and How We Read It: Finding Joy, Hope and Peace in the Word

The Bible has always been important to me, but if I’m being honest, it was only about 5 years ago when I really learned how to read the Bible in context without having to have a devotional side by side. Now don’t get me wrong, having a good Bible study or devotion to go along with your Bible reading is awesome, but we as Christians, don’t want to be dependent on someone else holding our hand as we’re studying the Word, right?

So here’s the thing, as the world has gotten increasingly more and more chaotic, and the brokenness of the world seems to be more “in our face” than ever, the importance of the Bible has become more and more apparent to me. Reading, understanding, and obeying the Bible is our only opportunity for us to live, thrive and survive in this world.

Literally…our only chance. 

But I know that that may be a scary thought to you, especially if you haven’t been taught or shown how to read the Bible! You’re not alone! In fact, I would say that you’re in the same boat with a majority of Christ followers! So, let’s start to change that! Click here to download your free Bible Study Strategies Guide!

I’m titling this series Why We Need It and How We Read It – So this is how the next 4 blogs are going to be laid out. In the next three blogs, I want to talk to you about why the Bible is so necessary and how understanding and obeying can change and elevate your life. In the fourth blog, we’re going to talk about actual strategies to studying the Bible, but remember, you can go ahead and pick up that guide now for free!

So let’s start with the feel good stuff. With so much depression, mental illness, hatred and anger, anxiety and sadness going around, I have to wonder if we’re not plugged in enough to the Word. I believe that all of these things are valid and real, and I absolutely think counseling and at times medication, can be helpful, but I wonder if we are sometimes trying everything other than the source of hope, comfort, joy, peace and blessings – despite our circumstances. 

We know that the Bible is the living Word of God, and that it is never changing and always relevant. The power of the Bible, however, comes from the fact that it points us to Jesus and salvation and it brings a connection to God that we gain when we read, understand and live out the Word! Now, the depth of the life giving and life saving power of the Word is way more than 3 blogs, and if I’m honest, I had a hard time getting really focused because I just wanted to keep talking about it…but 

…right now, we are going to see how the Bible brings Life – both eternally and here in our earthly journey that we’ve been given! But I want to preface everything that the Bible does with our responsibility. As I said above, we have to act on it. So I’m going to give you 2 very basic things that we must do in order to understand the life-giving and life-saving power of the Word. We’ll talk more about these in the third episode with some strategies to go along with it, but I want to lay them out at the beginning here.

  1. Read and meditate on the scriptures.
  2. Obey what we read and align our values to the scriptures.

If we are not taking the time to read and meditate on scripture, and we are not intentionally obeying scripture in our day to day lives – even when it’s so hard – then we cannot expect to experience the blessings and power of scripture. Right? Makes sense…

One last caveat – I’m not a Bible scholar. I did not go to seminary. I do not have formal training. I’m just a girl excited about the Word who is on her own journey to take in all of the power and blessings and wisdom that the Bible has for us as believers. I have a couple of resources for you. The first is Studying the Holy Scriptures by Paul David Washer, and the second is The Modern Girls’ Guide to Bible Study by Jen Hatmaker.

zso to get us started, the Word of God is our only unfailing source of encouragement, hope, comfort, joy and peace. 

Now sometimes I think we hear these words so much we start to gloss over the actual power of them. But are any of these needed in your life right now? Do you feel discouraged? Are laying awake at night because you can’t settle your brain. Do you find yourself worrying about what comes next? Do you feel “bla” or down as you go through your day to day? Ok- tune in, people!

So before we look at each of these, I want to start with 1 Timothy 1:5. Paul says “The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a genuine faith.”  Paul lays out perhaps the clearest step by step manual of how Christian’s should live in his letters in the new testament. But I just want you to think for a minute. The biggest factor in our lives that causes a lack of peace is separation from God, and the only thing that separates us is our sin. When we are living a life that comes from a pure heart and clear conscience, we are going to experience that peace that passes all understanding. When we live in genuine faith, which the Bible clearly lays out in the gospels and in Hebrews and James, among other places, we are able to rest in the Lord and take steps forward in confidence without the burden of carrying the weight of the world because we are walking in the faith that God has already gone before us and is walking with us.

Ok so let’s dive in to how the scriptures are our life line to all of this goodness. I’m going to start with encouragement and peace. Romans 15:4, in talking about not living only for ourselves (boy, that’s counter cultural isn’t it), states “Such things were written in the scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.” Listen, living for yourself will never bring hope, joy, wisdom or blessings. I could get on a soap box on this, but the narrative going around of “put yourself first”, “you can’t take care of others unless you are putting yourself first”, etc is derailing people off of their calling, breaking up families, and I believe being one of the sharpest weapons Satan is using. Christians follow Christ, and as Romans 15:3 says, “For even Christ didn’t live to please himself.” People are trying to do what makes them happy at all costs, and through all of their searching, they are not finding happiness. And we are doing the same thing to our children. Parents, it is not your job to make your child happy. It is your job to raise them to be like Christ, and let Him fulfill them. This needs to be separate a separate article, but I just see so many Christians even being tricked by this mantra and bringing their kids up in the same way. Now, is it wrong to take care of yourself? No! Scripture says that your body is a temple! Scriptures says to rest! We need to take care of ourselves, but not if it goes against scripture. 

Ok-moving on…

There is SO much on the topic of how the message of the Bible gives us the hope, comfort, joy and peace we need, so I’m going to rapid fire some verses at you. 

Psalm 119 is a really long, and really beautiful look at the purpose and power of the scriptures. This chapter is one of those places in the Bible where we get pretty much step by step directions on how to use scriptures and live in a way that brings true joy and life.  I want to give you a few verses out of this chapter:

119:49-50 – Remember your promise to me; it is my only hope. Your promise revives me; it comforts me in my troubles.

119:143 – As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.

119:165 – Those who love your instructions and have great peace and do not stumble.

119:57-58 – Lord, you are mine! I promise to obey your words! With all my heart, I want your blessings. 

Let’s head to the new testament to see what Jesus says about this:

Matthew 11:28-30 – Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and i will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”  What becomes heavy? Sin. Trying to be perfect. Always searching for sometime to fill a hole in our soul.  This doesn’t say we won’t have to work for the Kingdom or that it will be easy. It says the work is easy to bear and the burden is light. So where does Jesus teach? All through the gospels! It’s not hidden or in code! It laid out right there for us! So if you start to feel like you are carrying a heavy burden – measure it up to Jesus’ teachings. What do you need to lay down at his feet? What do you need to do more of? What do you need to do less of?

In John 6:63, Jesus says “The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

Paul also talks extensively about the benefits of following scripture and living a life in Christ in his letters to the new Christians. Here’s a few of his statements:

Ephesians 2:14 – For Christ himself has brought peace to us.

Philippians 4:4,6-7 – Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again, Rejoice! Don’t worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for what he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  

This has become a verse that our family relies heavily on. A few years, ago, i was traveling more, and my son was having some anxiety. We memorized this scripture, and leaned into what Tate, my son, needed to do in order to receive the peace. He needed to pray. He needed to tell God what he needed (mom’s safety, a safe night sleeping, etc), thank him for what he’s done (kept mom safe in the past, given us a safe home, kept us safe in the past, thank him for being with us, make a list of things he is thankful for) – and then peace comes.

A few verses down, as Paul writes to his concerned people in Philippi from prison, he says this, “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Phil 4:11-13

How do we know how to live through Christ? In the scriptures! We need to lean in to how Paul tells the new Christians to pray, think and act! Again, it’s not in code!

There are hundreds of other verses on how to access the joy, peace, hope and encouragement that God has to offer through the scriptures.

If  you are needing these things that God freely offers, which we all do regularly but will feel it more keenly at times, turn to the scriptures first! Remember, we’ll talk about more strategies for this in a later article, but you can always google topics in the Bible to start with! And if you want to grab that list of strategies now, click here!

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