Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Resolution For Every New Year

There was a teacher in a Sunday Bible class that asked a woman to read from the Book of Numbers about the Israelites wandering in the desert. She began, “The Lord heard you when you wailed, ‘If only we had meat to eat!’ Now the Lord will give you meat. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, or ten or twenty days, but for a month—until you loathe it.” When the woman finished, she paused, looked up, and said, “Hey, isn’t that the Atkins diet?” As funny as that reaction sounds, diets like this are often synonymous with New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, the vast majority of New Year’s resolutions today seem similarly shallow. That is probably because they are typically focused on our flesh (our passing identity) rather than our the spirit (our enduring identity). And, too often our spiritual resolutions barely meet the heights worthy of resolve.

What if I could share advice for your New Year that you knew would never fail to be good advice? Did you know that there is a piece of advice that has never failed one Christian ever?  That advice is to read healthy portions of God’s Word as a daily discipline. To illustrate how powerful and life transforming this advice can be, have you ever heard a Christian say, “One of my problems last year was that I read the Bible too much”? Likewise, have you ever heard a genuine Christian say, “Well, I daily read my Bible, but it seems worthless to me”? Rather, don't we observe far too many Christians who are far more faithful to consumption of other media and similar disciplines while not being faithful to the regular ingestion of God’s Word? Have you ever encountered a Christian that faithfully ingested God's Word daily yet did not benefit from it? We observe far too many Christians who fail to regularly read the Bible as an active discipline in their lives. It is amazing how many times we hear a mature Christian say, “Wow, I never knew that was in the Bible.” Don’t get me wrong – the Bible is a large book and there is always something new to be gleaned every time we read it. But, if you have been an adult Christian for several years, is there any good reason why you would not have read God’s Word cover-to-cover several times over with resolve to continue this repeated discipline indefinitely?

To make this point even more firm, below are a few things God says about reading His Word as a daily resolve:

  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
  • Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
  • Matthew 4:4, “Jesus answered [to Satan], ‘It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’’”
  • Joshua 1:8, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
  • Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Need God say more? John 1:1 reminds us that Jesus had a name before He was given the name of Yeshua in Bethlehem. His name was the Word. Jesus was and is the Word of God. That Word, as God, became flesh to die for us and rise again to live as our Eternal King. It is the Word of God in which God’s gospel is embodied. It is the Word of God, through Jesus, along with His Holy Spirit that is effectively God with us. And, the Word of God gave us His written Word that we might consume it tangibly as often as we need it. And, is there a moment when we don’t need it?

With regards to defending the Gospel, reading God's Word daily is absolutely vital. This blog has repeatedly contended that the real battle for defending the Gospel happens primarily in our minds and only secondarily in our speech. In order to be prepared to deal with challenges to the Gospel that we allow in our minds, our minds need to be trained daily to think more like God and less like corrupt flesh. That way, no thought can enter in without being surrounded and put into submission to the God who dominates that mind. If, however, our mind is not so trained by daily ingestion of God's Word, it is the Godless thought that has an improved chance of survival. 

Christian, consider yourself implored to read a healthy portion of the Bible every day. My suggestion is the One Year Bible, which assigns a portion of the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs to every day of the year (One Year Bible Online). Doing this is not a burden – but quite the opposite. Those who do this every year testify that it has changed their lives and made them more full. By reading God's Word every day, God speaks to you every day without fail. You will hear His voice more clearly every day, even audibly if you read aloud. You will learn more intimately how He speaks, how He thinks, and how He loves. You will learn His heartbeat. And, as often as you do it, it is that often you will learn more. I don’t know what daily learning about God looks like in eternity. But, today, it looks like His adopted son or daughter reading their Father’s loving and earnest advice every day as if his or her life depends upon it. And, for this adopted son, it does.

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