As we begin a new year, we do well to meditate upon the beginning of Romans 12: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2 ESV). I think it reasonable to conclude that the apostle Paul was tying together the body and mind in calling all believers to commit their entire being to becoming holy and blameless in Christ.
Focusing now upon the second part of this call or command, we must see that we have a daily obligation before God to renew our minds. As we do, we will be transformed – that is our minds will be made more and more like Christ’s. Renewal is that work of killing off the old man and building up the new. In other words, restoring that which we lost (knowledge, righteousness and holiness) as image bearers of God in the fall. So how? How do we renew our minds? How do we restore what was lost in the fall? Certainly, this is one of the central works of the Spirit of God. But how do we participate? One powerful way is by reading, meditating upon and memorizing Scripture: immersing ourselves in the very word of God will necessarily renew our minds.
How can we be helped in reading our bibles every day? We are busy people with many responsibilities. It is difficult to find time. And Satan is shrewd in tempting us to think that we just don’t have time to spend in God’s word. And where do we start: in Genesis, in the New Testament? One help is to use a bible reading plan. There are many available. Ligonier Ministries has a significant list of plans: https://www.ligonier.org/posts/bible-reading-plans. A reading plan will do two things: it acts a pseudo accountability partner, and it ensures that you will not be reading the same text over and over, but being immersed in the entire canon. A word of warning: if you get behind (as I usually do), don’t become discouraged. Keep pressing on. You can use Sundays to catch up, or just live with being behind. It’s OK. The main thing is consistency in being in the word of God.
Another help is to select the same time each day and the same place to spend at least five minutes reading the word of God – uninterrupted. As you do, it will become easier and easier to set this time aside and look forward to it.
Finally, consider keeping a journal. As you sit down for your quiet time, bring a small notebook along and record what passages you read that day. Having the notebook handy will enable you to write down the insights the Spirit gave you as you read that passable. This will help to fix in your mind the passage just read, and thus should be a great help with renewal.
What a joy it would be to sit down at our next monthly fellowship meal and discuss with one another how the Lord has been renewing our minds through the daily reading and study of His very word. The Lord has been gracious to give us another year of freedom to be in His word. Let us use it to build up His kingdom in our hearts.