That’s about how long it will take you to read 1 John in one sitting. 5 chapters. 105 verses. 14 minutes. If you spend 14 minutes every other day reading 1 John for the rest of our preaching series, you will have given the Spirit about 11 hours to etch His word onto your heart. Now I know you have hardly a minute to spare. So let me give you four reasons why this simple discipline would be worthwhile.
1. You’ll know large portions of 1 John by heart. We could talk through the various spiritual benefits of memorizing Scripture. But often the hardest part is actually doing the memory work. Yet it’s amazing how our minds can absorb things through regular repetition. Our three year olds sing the doxology with us because they hear it every week. Imagine how much of 1 John could be tattooed onto your heart if you read it daily or even a few times a week.
2. The sermon will be a hundred times better. Some sermons are home-runs. Many are just base-hits. But the entire preaching experience will be better for you by coming ready to hear God’s word. A faithful sermon preached to a soul that has already been soaked in God’s word has power to set your heart ablaze – even if the sermon is not spectacular. I picture it as the difference between trying to ignite kindling and throwing logs drenched in lighter fluid onto an already roaring fire. Try it and see what a difference it makes if Sunday is not the first time in the week that you’ve allowed God to speak to you through John.
3. You’ll see the forest and the trees. Even as you read through the book in one sitting, you’ll be amazed at how many different things God will show you. I’ve been reading 1 John (or hearing it – another great option) for a few months now. I’ve read it several times. And yet, you’ll always see things you didn’t notice before. The Spirit will bring certain verses, phrases, or even single words to your attention. So for example, I read 1 John the other day and was struck by chapter 2:17.
And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (emphasis added)
Think about that. All the desires of this world (get rich, get ahead, make a name for yourself, etc, etc) that are the norm now will one day pass away. Those desires seem so permanent now that I can’t imagine a day when they won’t dominate my heart or this world. But John says that that day is exactly what’s coming. Those desires will pass away. In fact even better, it’s already passing away! It’s begun. God has begun the work of rewriting my desires and will continue until His values and ways become the norm!
4. We’d be in 1 John together. This simple discipline has the potential not just to bless your individual spiritual life (though it will), it also has the potential to bless us as body. If every person at Seven Mile Road were immersed in 1 John together, who knows what God might do in us and through us corporately.
We could keep going; but for these reasons and more, I want to encourage you to start regularly reading 1 John. Find 14 minutes somewhere and start today.