On Thanksgiving morning, my cell phone dutifully dinged with the notification that I had just received the daily Bible verse from the Study Bible app I use. Predictably, the verse was one often shared and recited on Thanksgiving:
"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name. For the Lord is good, and his faithful love endures forever; his faithfulness, through all generations." - Psalm 100: 4-5 CSB
As I read that verse it occurred to me to open the app to read the whole Psalm. As it turns out, Psalm 100 is only five verses long, and it takes only a couple of minutes to read it in its entirety. These two verses so often shared at Thanksgiving time are not even half of the richness found in Psalm 100. Those five short verses reflect on the purpose of God's Word, our calling to serve Him, our worship of Him, our need to acknowledge who He is and who we are, and ultimately the thanks we should freely give in light of it all.
It made me think, how often do we settle for half (or less) of richness of the Word of God? How often do we take Scripture in the form of soundbites as we run headlong into our days? How often do we only want half of God's Word?
As for the first two, the temptation to settle for snippets of God's Word is difficult to overcome in our world without intentional effort to set aside time to read more than a few verses. It is difficult to get up early to spend a few minutes in the quite, alone with God and Scripture. It is difficult for some of us to turn off the TV a little earlier in the evening in order to have some time for reading and studying our Bibles. But unless we intentionally make time to read and study our Bible, we fall further from the intimacy with God that it instills in us.
Sometimes, however, some of us are content with only half of God's Word in our lives, and that, often times by willful design. It is an easy thing to read the Bible for the parts we like, for the easy parts, for the non-controversial parts, for the parts that do not require much thought or self examination. But in doing so we end up with a watered down Scripture that suits our own desires, which ultimately leads to a watered down Christianity, and perhaps even worship of a Jesus-shaped Idol instead of the Lord (see my book Jesus-shaped Idols for more on that).
As we move from the Thanksgiving holiday into Advent and Christmas, why not make it your endeavor to read more deeply the story of Christ, His coming, and the prophetic fulfillment of the Scriptures? Why not read so deeply that you are forced to remember that the birth of the babe in Bethlehem was not ultimately about Christmas, but was really about Easter? I think you will find, as I have, that in reading and believing the whole of Scripture, there is an intimacy with God that cannot be experienced apart from it. Be blessed!