How’s that for a topic switch?! I’ll get back to the politics stuff soon…I need a serious break from that subject.
Well, the end of the year is upon us. Only 16 days left in 2011 – can you believe that?! I must be getting old, because these years are passing by way too fast for me. I feel like I just finished celebrating 2011 and now it’s time to say hello to a new year again.
We all know the standard New Year’s process – make a list of resolutions that you will likely not keep through January. Not being a pessimist here – call me a realist. It is what it is. Many a resolution has been written in my journal only to go down in flames on or before January 31. I’m sure I have lots of company in that camp. I have long ceased the practice of “New Year’s resolutions” for that very reason.
I do set goals for myself, however, and at the end of each year review those goals to adjust them/add to them for the next year. I find this exercise to be very rewarding, and always an opportunity to sing praises to the Lord. He always does abundantly more than I could ever think to ask. It is a wonderful way to end a year, and start a new one. Even if the year I’m leaving hasn’t been all that great, I can still thank God as I remember all He has done. This gives me courage and strength to walk into the new year.
One goal that remains perpetually on my list is reading through the Bible. Each year I want to work through some sort of Bible reading plan. It is a practice that I would highly recommend for a number of reasons.
The Bible is the Word of God. Let’s just state the obvious first. The Bible is indeed the Word of God. It is “God-breathed”, inspired by Him. It is a divine book. But God used human means to bring forth his written Word. He used human language, human personality, and the circumstance of individual human lives to produce what we now call the Bible. You could say He used ordinary means to bring forth an extraordinary message. He condescended to communicate to us in a way that we can understand. This is what makes the Bible glorious and beautiful.
Reading through the Bible helps you see the big picture of Scripture. There are 66 books in the Bible, all with their own purpose and plotline. But the smaller stories that make up the books of the Bible contribute to the larger story that sweep across the Bible. The diversity of authors, genres and events all unify to tell the one story of how God is reconciling all things to Himself through His Son. Creation, fall and the redemption of a people for Himself - and in our redemption the redemption of all of creation. This is the story of the Bible, and it all centers on one Person – Christ. Reading through the Bible gives you the benefit of seeing how the smaller parts fit into that larger story.
Reading through the Bible guards you from strange winds of doctrine. One of the first articles I read as a young Christian was Never Read a Bible Verse by Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason Ministries. At first blush that title sounds a bit odd, but the main point he is making is that reading Bible verses in isolation of their context is a dangerous practice. All sorts of misunderstandings and erroneous doctrines come forth from that practice. The phrase “every text has a context” is the rule of thumb. The context of a verse is the paragraph in which it is found; that paragraph’s context is the chapter; that chapter’s context is the book; and that book’s context is the whole of Scripture. If we view – and read – the Bible as a whole, we will see more clearly what the Bible is all about.
Reading the Bible gives you hope. It goes without saying that this world is a mess. We don’t have to look very far to see the consequences of sin, in our lives and in our world. But in Christ, there is hope. And it is a hope that does not disappoint, because all that God has promised He will bring to pass. Reading through the Bible reminds us of all that God has done in history to bring about His purposes; seeing the faithfulness of God plants thanksgiving and hope in our hearts.
The Word of God is our spiritual food. I pray you would consider feasting on His Word throughout this new year. Tomorrow I’ll share some of my favorite tools that I use when I read through the Bible.
Until then…grace and peace…