1 Peter 2:2-3
2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.KJV
When I became a Christian in the summer of 2000 I read every form of devotional literature I could get my hands on. I even listened to TBN and took notes on the sermons I listened to! God was good to me and spared me from any false doctrine which comes from that station (and there is plenty of it!).
The more I read my Bible I found a few devotionals which I really liked. One was a devotional was a very popular book, "My Utmost for His Highest." A book by Oswald Chambers which to this day I still would reference from time to time. I now have a huge tome of his "complete works." It sits on my shelf and collects dust. Another devotional I read alot was one which is found in many churches across America, "My Daily Bread." I liked this one for some reason, I can't tell you why that is...I don't read it anymore. There were others too, some where books by my favorite authors like, D.L. Moody and Warren Wiersbe. Whatever it may have been, God was good to me and He used these devotional books in a profound way in my early christian life. There was rarely a day that went by where I wasn't doing my devotionals for at least one hour in the day. That is a good memory.
Well, eight years have passed since I started reading the Bible, I have gone through a great Bible college. I was educated under some well taught men and learned alot. I have been a youth pastor, I have been a preacher, I have been an evangelist, a camp councilor, I have been a nursing home Chaplin, I have been a Sunday school teacher, I have been a leader, I am a father, a husband, a business owner, I have pioneered a move across the country, I have made many friends along the way; and through all of this I have read my Bible consistently (not perfectly mind you) but consistently. I have learned many things since my younger christian days. Things I would hope to pass on to others who walk the narrow path that leads to life.
As much as I love certain devotionals, they should never be used in place of the actual reading of the Bible itself. That is dangerous for one reason, 90% of a devotional is filled with a man's words. We must fill our minds with the Word of God. There are great devotional books out there and I am thankful to God for them, but they must be used wisely. Some good books for reading devotionaly (after your Bible reading is done) are Table Talk Magazine, Taste and See (John Piper), The Valley of Vision (Puritan writings excellent book), Morning and Evening with Charles Spurgeon, and of course there are many others. Hymnals are great for devotionals too.
The verse I quoted above is great for devotional thinking. Long for the pure milk of the word. Have you ever seen a baby longing for food. Oh, that I could be that way in my hunger for God and his word! "Taste and see that the Lord is good." "Your words were found and I ate them, and they became to me a joy and the delight of my heart." "His delight is in the Law of the Lord and in His Law he meditates day and night." Read the Bible, read the Bible, read the Bible. How do you grow in your faith? Read the Bible- "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God." How do you grow in your knowledge of the things of God? Read your Bible! How do you get to know Jesus? Read your Bible. How do you discern truth from error? Read your Bible. How do you know good from evil? Read your Bible. How do you fight Satan? Read your Bible. Know your Bible inside and out, cover to cover. If you don't, than determine that you will.
One thing I love about reading the puritans is there profound knowledge of the Bible. Many of these men were well educated but it was a puritan lifestyle that made it so easy to know the word. Read the puritans some time and you will find yourself amazed at their grasp of the Holy Scriptures. For instance John Bunyan's "Pilgrims Progress." If you have read it you know what I am saying. That is a must read for everyone. These men spent hours upon hours in their Bibles everyday. Get up and 5:00 read until 7:00 Pray until 9:00 or what have you. That is where true spiritual growth takes place. Read your Bible. Read it read it read it.
There are many ways to go through your Bible pick one and do it. You should be able at the very least to read through your Bible once a year. I personally have a set schedule which I have adapted for myself. There are numerous ways of going about your Bible reading. The important thing is that you do it. Some People read for a few minutes and say, well I read it today. Watch out you may have read a little, but are you ready for the heavy weight of life that will hit you with such a small portion of spiritual manna? Remember the words of Christ- "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." If your physical life depended upon how much Bible your read, would you be starving to death? If so, then I submit to you, you are starving to death in a much worse way than physical death, and that is spiritual death. Repent today, and start afresh in a broken and contrite heart- draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.