In our increasingly busy lives it is often not possible to find time to reflect, meditate or concentrate on the bigger issues and more important questions of life — questions like the state of our relationship with Christ, or how we spend our time here on earth. Sometimes a week or two’s break is the only opportunity we have to really think.
Can books help? Christian biography is a great way to discover how the Lord has worked in the lives of others. Occasionally we might wish that biographers were less prone to hide their subjects’ warts, for they remind us we are all earthen vessels in need of spiritual filling. God never works identically in any two believers, yet we all experience common trials, hardships and blessings in this life. Seeing his hand in the lives of others both comforts and inspires.
What we see of ourselves in Bible saints such as Joseph, Peter and Martha, we can trace in the lives of God’s people throughout history. Times may change but we have the same need of grace today as our brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone before. And Jesus Christ has not changed either. He is the same, yesterday, today and for ever.
Sometimes we need to settle our minds on a doctrinal issue or problem. A truth we have been taught, accepted and espoused has suddenly been challenged and shaken. We need to sit down with the Word of God and work through its teaching.
Theology is the study of God, and every child of God has the privilege and responsibility of learning what God has done and said of himself.
Principally, true theology is the study of the Lord Jesus Christ, the God-man, our Creator, Lord and Saviour. If we want to know the truth we must get to know Christ. ‘And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent’ (John 17:3).
Have you time to meditate upon the Lord Jesus? Have you spent an hour looking for the Saviour in one of David’s psalms or musing upon each of the Lord’s sayings from the cross? Holidays give time for doing things we don’t usually do and quiet contemplation on the Saviour is time well spent (Hebrews 12:3). If we do have time, there are helps along the way — books that point us to the Saviour that we might ‘consider him’.
Again, have you ever actually read a sermon? No? Then you don’t know what you are missing. Our Lord has blessed his church with gospel ministers through all church ages, and the writings of many of these men are available to us still.
The sermons of Spurgeon and Ridley and the deep experiential insights of John Newton and the sublime poetry of William Cowper draw out our souls in thanksgiving for what the Lord has done for us. This is our commonwealth, our Christian heritage, and we ignore it to our cost.
This year, as we look around for a book to take on holiday, perhaps we will alight on something that will not merely stimulate our minds but will also comfort and inspire us in our faith. Lives have been changed by reading a book. So whether it’s a biography, a work of theology or apologetics, a doctrinal study or something contemplative on the Lord, let us take it up with joy and anticipation.
This is an extract from a longer article available here.