Welcome to 2017! The “old” year seemed to pass on more quickly than ever before, and we’re looking out over a new set of 365 unpredictable calendar days ahead. Many of us are probably sighing with relief that 2016 is but a memory now. As we enjoy this last holiday of the Christmas season, did you have a good Christmas? Make any new year’s resolutions? Did they seem oddly familiar? Contemplating this day here at work, I read over last year’s January 1 post and I see some common themes emerging. There are so many ways we can approach the end of a year and the beginning of the next, and the chance for a “reset” is always welcome. But what do you consider your biggest accomplishment of 2016? Was it reaching some personal or financial goal, or did you experience some real growth in your walk with God? Last year I talked about relationships taking priority over resolutions; what about the most important relationship of all, that which we have with our Creator?
IN THE BEGINNING GOD…..(Genesis 1:1)
…”SURELY I AM COMING QUICKLY.” AMEN. EVEN SO, COME, LORD JESUS! THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST BE WITH YOU ALL. AMEN. (Revelation 22:20-21)
Those sentences bracket the text of the greatest story ever told, a perpetual bestselling book, in fact the most widely sold and distributed book of all time. Estimates range between 2.5 and 6 billion copies have been placed in circulation since the 1800’s, with millions more added each year, alongside electronic book versions and apps such as YouVersion (itself establishing a record of over 200 million downloads). It’s actually 66 books in one, written by over 40 different authors over the course of some 1600 years. You’ve probably heard all that before. Impressive statistics, aren’t they?
But — so what? What difference does it make?
You’ve probably got one, or two or five, printed copies of various translations at home along with apps on your phone, tablet, and computer (or desktop shortcuts to BibleGateway.com and BlueLetterBible.org). And there is virtually no end to the commentaries, devotionals and study guides we can easily reference with little effort at all. Despite these advantages, here in the United States we live among the most biblically illiterate population this nation has ever seen. There’s only one cure for this condition: We have to actually read our Bibles.
Just 2 days ago I finished walking through the complete Bible for the 4th time since becoming a Christian. The version I used (above) has 1268 pages, which is a daunting prospect no matter how avid a reader you are. Here’s the thing: It actually took me 2 years to read this “Bible in a Year.” Fact is, that’s been fairly typical for me. I have plenty of devos, Christian books on lots of topics, and other edifying publications on hand, but using a daily reading format (chronologically going through daily Old Testament, Psalms, Proverbs, and New Testament passages) I usually bog down for the first time in Leviticus or Numbers. It’s hard to get going again, and then other distractions arise, and discouragement usually follows. But you just have to keep at it. Choose a different translation to liven things up; I chose the NCV and I attest to the fact that it gave me new perspective on particular books like Job and the prophets. I really enjoyed it again toward the end!
So as you set about to start your new year — for most of us it begins in earnest tomorrow — I encourage you to add this worthy goal to your list. No matter what your daily time with God looks like, delve into the riches of the full counsel of His Word. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you, read it cover to cover (Genesis to Maps!). That’s the means He has provided to get to know Him. “Let the man who would hear God speak, read Holy Scriptures” said Martin Luther.
Stay close to your Lord and Savior — the Word Himself, from John 1 — this year. No matter what lies ahead, you’re going to need His counsel, grace, and forgiveness. We all will. But all the treasure worth pursuing in life in found in His presence alone. Start reading now!
In His grace,