Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Reading the Bible in a Year? Count Me Out

(In case you're wondering, I have not forgotten the promise I made in the previous post. I'm preparing my case. Besides, I'd like to get some more answers from you first.)

After the lights come off the tree and the last gift is unwrapped, most of you will turn to thinking about what you want to accomplish in the New Year. Like many, I use this time to look back at how the year has gone, what went right, and what I wish I had done differently. I resolve to make the upcoming year better by thinking about what's most important.

In fact, this blog was born from one of those heavy thinking sessions. (No, I didn't keep those resolutions.)

People often decide that January presents a perfect time to "get serious" about reading the bible. "This is the year I'm going to do it," Christians say as they gleefully start in Genesis 1. By the end of February, the genealogies have taken their toll and the laws have done what only law can do. They've brought death to your mighty ambition to read the bible in a year.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I'm told to put on the full armor of God, right? That includes the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. I imagine myself picking up my sword and charging into battle. But the only sword I have is a tiny plastic knife.

How mighty will I be in battle? When the storms come, will I be prepared? When trials come, will I be able to stand my ground and not compromise?

Not with that kind of "sword."

So I can follow the crowd, get all excited, and gloss my eyes over the pages. What's today? Genesis 1-3. Great! Let's do it. Check off the boxes. I'm all set. See you tomorrow, Jesus!

I was thinking today about how I wish my life had more fruit to show for it. I wish I was stronger in my faith. I wish I could stand my ground, serve with compassion, and lead my family with conviction.

So I decided I'd get serious about reading the bible.

I came to this:

1 Blessed is the man
   Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
   Nor stands in the path of sinners,
   Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    And in His law he meditates day and night. 
3 He shall be like a tree
    Planted by the rivers of water,
    That brings forth its fruit in its season,
    Whose leaf also shall not wither;
    And whatever he does shall prosper. 
4 The ungodly are not so,
   But are like the chaff which the wind drives away. 
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
   Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 
6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
   But the way of the ungodly shall perish. 
Psalm 1, NKJV

How do I become the person God wants me to be? Meditation. Really thinking about what God has to say. Taking time to slowly, carefully consider the words instead of stuffing my face full of "bible."

What if, In 2013, I became the man in this Psalm? What if, by God's grace and with His help, I began to truly delight in His Word? To think carefully and deeply about what God has to say, "day and night?"  When I'm writing to you at this time next year, how much richer would these posts be? How much deeper would I know Christ? What would that fruit look like in my life? How refreshing would that be?

What if these 6 short verses are the only Scripture that I applied next year? Some of you will read the bible through next year. Some of you more than once. I applaud you. If I only get through one book, or five, and truly become one who delights and meditates on God's Word, I'll take that "plan" over any one-year plan in a heartbeat.

If you're ready to get serious about God's Word, and be transformed by the renewing of your mind, you've got the right idea. Whatever "plan" you choose, though, keep the goal in mind. Why do you come to the Word? To get your to-do list? To learn some cool prophecy? To find verses that support your side of the argument?

My heart says of you, "Seek His face!"
Your face, Lord, I will seek
Psalm 27:8, NIV

Make that your goal. Come to Scripture to seek His face. Everything else will fall into place. Lord, show me your glory. That's all I want and all I need.

Need some help? There are a million ways you can meditate on Scripture. One way I've found extremely helpful is the one Janet Pope presents in "His Word in My Heart." If you've been struggling in your Christian walk, I invite you to check it out and give it a try.

Most of all, pray. Delight in God's Word is a gift from God - not something you conjure up through effort. Pray that God will help you delight in His Word, and He'll answer that prayer. I guarantee it.

Let's be like trees planted by rivers of water this year, that bring forth fruit in its season. When the trials come, we won't wither. Whatever we do shall prosper. We have God's Word on it.

You with me?

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