Contrary to popular opinion and New Years’ optimism, the world is not getting any better.
Read any year-end summaries of 2013 global events and people (Time, WSJ, Yahoo, Dave Barry, and even Facebook) and you’ll see there are still wars (Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan) and rumors of wars (Iran, South Korea, Pakistan). There are still murders (Trevon Martin, Aaron Alexis, school shootings). There are still problems with politics (Obamacare, Government Shutdown, DOMA). There are still tragedies (Philippines, Bangladesh, India). There is still emptiness (loss, divorce, loneliness), still illness, and still much fear.
In our media driven world, we’re not lacking for information about events or people or even the world itself. What we desperately need, however, is wisdom for how to live in a world gone wild.
We don’t something new, but something ancient. We don’t need another opinion, what we need is truth. We need something far above the chaos of this world that gives us an eternal perspective. We need hope that can’t be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or whatever app is the latest trend in 2014. We need wisdom that comes only from God through His Word – the Bible.
How happy is the man…who delights in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. Psalm 1:1-2
Reading the Bible daily, or at least on a regular basis, is a great way to facilitate meditation upon the whole counsel of God. Regular saturation with grace and truth from heaven above is the best way to hear from God about how to live here on earth.
Thomas Watson put it like this: “A Christian without meditation is like a solider without arms, or a workman without tools. Without meditation the truths of God will not stay with us. The heart is hard, and the memory is slippery, and without meditation all is lost.”
Truly happy in life are those who allow the Word of God to influence him or her rather than those who live without regard for God (Psalm 1:1-3). Meditation on God’s Word involves prolonged thinking about it that takes place in reading, study and contemplation. The point of meditating on the truth of the Bible is never to merely say you’ve done it or to check it off a list. The purpose is knowing God personally by reading the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) and responding by faith to God’s self-disclosure to us in written form (Deut. 6:7; 32:46; Psalm 119:11, 15, 23, 93, 99; 143:5). The goal is knowing God more in order to live for more than this life.
Paul shared his life purpose withe the church in Philippi,
“I consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord… My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.” Philippians 3:7-11
A simple resolution to read the Bible and apply it’s truths, however, often becomes just another a good intention without a proactive plan. For those who like details, there’s a webpage devoted to how long it takes to read each book of the Bible. The average person reads 200 to 250 words per minute; there are about 775,000 words in the Bible; therefore it takes less than 10 minutes a day to read the whole Bible in a year. If you want a simple handout that has every Bible book with a place to put a check next to every day’s reading, go here. Crossway offers the Daily Reading Bible plan (with multiple options – read just the Old Testament or New, Chronological, etc..) or the One-Year Bible (whole Bible in 364 readings). There are also multiple apps, like YouVersion, that allow you to read the Bible on your phone, tablet, and computer.
For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
This year, I’m taking a slower pace to read through a portion of the New Testament each day as PlanoBibleChapel studies the purpose and the power of the church in the 21st Century (Why Bother with the Church?). I invite you to read along with me (download iCal) because the Bible is most effective when studied, discussed, and applied in community. You’re also more likely to follow through on a good intention of reading God’s Word when you share the experience with others. Get started reading today and don’t give up.
Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:23–25
Theologian Karl Barth said, “We have to read the Bible in one hand, and the newspaper in the other.” Reading the Bible doesn’t mean that we avoid the world or ignore the people in it, but rather that we view the world and others through the lens of Scripture.
Jesus knew the pain of this world intellectually and He experienced it personally (Hebrews 4:15). So, He has given us His Word so that in Him we may have peace. He assured us, “You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world” (John 16:33).
Join me in faithfully, regularly reading the Bible in 2014 to find wisdom for living in this world. Follow me…as I follow Jesus Christ.