We had a very fun 2016 and now I am pretty excited about 2017. God is so good to us and with Him watching over us there are so many reasons to be excited about the coming year.
So... at the beginning of 2016 I challenged you to try to read the Bible in the year, spending time in it every day and to allow God to help you grow and change from what you read. I am not sure if anybody took that challenge but I hope that even if you didn't read it in a year you were still spending time in it regularly and that it was inspiring you to become more like Jesus Christ.
I am excited to report that I did make it through the Bible in the year. I had thought it would be pretty easy with the times that I had set aside for reading but since I repeated some areas quite a few times (as that was the book we were focused on that month at church or I was wanting to study a certain area for some reason on another) it ended up that it wasn't until the last day of the year that I actually got the last 3 chapters read. But that was a fun goal to check off.
It was pretty funny to me that after my being happy that I had completed that goal that our guest speaker at church this morning reminded us that we don't get a special spot in heaven (or something to that order) for reading the Bible through in a year. I totally agree with that and started thinking about some pros and cons for reading through the Bible in a year. I thought I would share them with you....
Why I think it is a good thing:
- Most of us have favorite sections of the Bible. When we don't have a plan to our Bible reading/study we tend to read favorite parts over and over. Well that isn't a big problem if we neglect reading other areas that is a problem. All of God's word is inspired and useful.
- I have found many people seem to think they are reading/studying their Bible just from reading a Bible study book with a few highlighted verses. While those can be beneficial we really need to understand context and not trust somebody else to spoon feed us. Reading the Bible straight for ourselves I believe is very important to making sure we are not led astray by false teachers.
- Seeing the big picture. When we read the whole thing in a shorter amount of time (not spread out for years) then I think it is easier for us to start making connections.
Some potential dangers:
- We become prideful about our accomplishment. Pride isn't right which we do know if we actually pay attention when we are reading the Bible. :-)
- We read just to get it marked off the chart and don't truly pay attention or allow God to change us through it.
I do have another theory on reading quickly, however, that I would like to mention and you can share your thoughts on it if you like. I believe it is super important to read God's word in a slow manner trying to understand and grow from it and I try to set aside time to do that each day. However, I think that sometimes even just reading it quickly - not necessarily grasping everything that we read can be beneficial at times too. This past year I decided that my morning Bible time and my Bible time with the kids would be slow, pay careful attention reading times but the chapters I read at nap time I would still read even if I was sleepy, even if I didn't truly grasp everything right then and didn't have time to check things out further. My thinking was that as I read it was at least going in to my head in some way. God could then later help me bring that to remembrance as it went along with something else that I read or a situation that I was facing. So those naptime reads were not what I would consider the greatest of learning times but I think better than nothing.
Just one more thought on reading the Bible through in a year - Many people seem to find that overwhelming either for themselves or they may suggest that it is basically a little over the top to think that it is a good idea to do. Yet most of us don't have problems reading many "fun" books, watching movies that take hours of our time, or reading Facebook posts and spending a lot of time there. I think that this is just another area where we get to make a choice about what matters to us and what we think is important. And by the way that is not to say that just because I think the Bible is the most important book that I will only read that book and I am not saying that I think you need to read the Bible through in a year. I am just suggesting that we be honest with ourselves about how much time with actually have and how much we can actually read and also to encourage everybody to make God's word a priority.
Anyway, on to the treasures that I found in God's word lately....
What caused me to worship God more?
"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." Jude 24 & 25
What a wonderful thing that He can keep us from stumbling! Only through Jesus Christ will we be able to stand blameless in the presence of God - what an amazing gift!
What scripture touched me?
"These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feast when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever." Jude 12 &13
I read this with sorrow. Much as we would like to we cannot pretend that everybody is "okay". God says they are not. And so when I read a scripture like this I am reminded to first look at my own-self. Am I what is being described here in anyway? How can God work in me to make me not be any of these things? I want to be alive in Him, bearing fruit, being like precious rain on a parched land. I also then think of how we can share the truth of the scripture - of God's love and His truth that demands obedience and fruit with others. God doesn't want anyone to perish and neither do I. He has given Christians the job of spreading the message of the gospel - how can I do that more?
What prompted me to action?
"Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life." Revelation 2:10
This year more than any other that I can remember has been one of taking all the "do not fear" verses to heart. Our world seems so often to be controlled by fear. I saw this especially during the presidential election but even beyond that. I believe we need to make a habit of not being afraid (being careful is fine, being prepared is fine- but not afraid) but that is something that is taught over and over again in scripture. We need to find out what is right and then be faithful to that no matter what the consequences may be. I don't know that I necessarily did any physical action concerning this verse this week but each time I read a verse like this my faith grows a little more as I am reminded that I live by faith and not be fear and so I simply trust God that as long as I follow Him life will be okay because He is the one that knows what is best for me.
What interesting fact did I read?
"Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe." Jude 5
This just reminded me of the emphasis that God does place on belief.
What did you read in God's word this past week that inspired you or caused you to grow?
This week I thought I would do this post to complete this series but next week we will be starting on a different series of Sunday posts. We will be going more topical again. I hope you enjoy them!