(Before I get started, I just wanted to let people know that we sent out our most recent newsletter this weekend. If you didn’t get a copy in your email, please let us know so we can verify your email address and get it sent to you!)
1 year ago I led our Sunday school class in a few studies based on the book “Radical” by David Platt. If you haven’t read this book I cannot recommend it enough. But please be prepared to take it seriously, because the stuff Platt writes about is real and it is tough to digest. I’ve heard of more than a few people who start the book and put it down in disgust because they feel he is being too harsh on the American/Canadian culture.
But one of the main challenges in the book is for each reader to take on the “Radical Challenge” for one year. The challenge is to dedicate at least two weeks of the year to missions, make a meaningful financial sacrifice towards missions and read the entire Bible chronologically in that year. I of course had the privilege of challenging our class to try it out.
After I finished leading the class I was hit with a realization. I had never actually read the Bible cover to cover in a sustained manner. In fact, my personal reading of God’s word was not as consistent as it should be. So I needed to take the challenge on as well!
Sacrificing financially was not going to be an issue. We’ve done that (and lovin it!). Spending at least two weeks involved in missions? Yup, I guess we’re doing that too…
But reading the Bible every day, chronologically? Hadn’t ever done it. So on April 1, 2012 I got started. I downloaded a schedule from http://www.ewordtoday.com/. You can make a custom one for what date you are starting on, what version of the Bible you are using and the method you want to read in. I did the chronological because you are getting the Bible read in the same order in which it was written.
Today is April 1, 2013. Which means yesterday I finished Revelation 22. And wow! What a read. It was tough to get in the habit and I admit I missed a couple days and had to make them up. But by June I was well into it and even on those long driving days on our road trip I was finding that I would have to find a place to read. Even if it was sitting in the hotel bathroom or hall while the kids fell asleep.
Another neat result was that Michelle started to join me in reading each night before bed. So we both finally got in a good habit of daily reading! Neither of us knows why it was so tough to get started before this time, but now we can’t go to sleep without taking care of our reading.
Finally, here are some of the highlights of what I saw. There were plenty more than these, but they still stick out the most to me.
1. The sin of Israel in the Bible was always that they didn’t pursue “righteousness and justice”. This was repeated over, and over, and over again. And it didn’t stop in the Old Testament. Jesus repeated this judgement numerous times to the people while He was on the earth. Righteousness is being clean before God, justice is caring for other people. Does that sound familiar? (Hint: the two greatest commandments are?) In 2013, we are still tasked with loving God above all and then loving other people second.
2. I can’t understand how anyone can read the Bible and then claim that Jesus is not God. Everything that Jesus did and said had been told to people long before He showed up. My favourite is in Ezekial 34:
11 “‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice. “ – Ezekial 34:11-16
You should read the whole chapter, but that was short highlight. Did you notice what God said? He said He would be the shepherd. He will be the one to rescue His people and take care of them.
Then read John 10 and tell me that Jesus didn’t claim to be God.
“I am the good shepherd…” – John 10:11
3. Genesis 1:1 is “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” It is the first verse of the Bible. Revelation 22:20 is the 2nd to last verse of the Bible. It reads “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon‘…”. It struck me that the first and almost last verse of the Bible pretty much sum up the message: God created everything and He is coming back soon. Believe those two things and your life will be changed.