ZERO (Day 365 the last day of 2014, 100% complete)

All year I have been struggling with balancing my normal routine life with my commitment to read the entire Bible for the first time in my life. It has been a difficult challenge and I wish I could say that God spoke to me with his big booming “God” voice and made me feel all warm and squidgy.

But he didn’t. I need to look elsewhere.

So what have I learnt, in brief?

The Old Testament is not a series of chronological descriptions of prophets having conversations with the Almighty. It is a series of events in more or less chronological order, but then continuing with the Lord speaking to the prophets about what Israel is doing wrong.

It is hard NOT to draw parallels with modern-day Israel and the politics of the Middle East. Some people might say that Israel is still doing wrong and will be duly punished. But there are some in Israel itself who are struggling to make their voice of compassion and equality heard. Time will tell if they manage to succeed. Peace is still a long way off, but if everyone on all sides could agree on a compromise, then life would improve for all.

The New Testament contains some challenging words from Paul and the other epistle writers. It is difficult to follow their instructions sometimes. Many of the things they wrote about are directly opposite to our modern way of thinking.

As the Church of England chose its first female Bishop, one can only imagine the horror that Paul would feel. Or would he? If he were alive today, would he think more like us? In a way it is not even a question. We cannot change what’s in the Bible just because we don’t like it. Picking specific passages to support our arguments is very thin ice, theologically.

Much safer to say what I liked most. I have enjoyed Zachariah, which I didn’t quote because I’d already decided to just concentrate on Revelation in December. There were many connections with the Easter story. Life from death. Easter: a time of re-birth and renewal. A time of starting afresh. A sort of spiritual Happy New Year. And perhaps that’s God’s message to me? A Happy New Year!

Which brings me to the final quote. Thank you for reading, I hope you found some of it interesting. God bless you.

“He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon!’ Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.” [Revelation 22:20-21 NLT]

Advertisements

Day 181 (50% of the way through)

I can’t believe it! I have read half of the Bible. This has been a difficult few weeks and there is increasingly the feeling that I should just pack it in.

Who is reading this blog? The stats are telling me one thing, but I still have comments from people so I know that a few people are reading it!

So where are we now? I’ve found a few seeds of wisdom, especially through the Proverbs, which has always been a favourite book of mine. I have also enjoyed the brutal honesty of the Psalms.

The New Testament continues to give words of wisdom and interpretation into the lives of those early Christians. But the Old Testament has been very tough going at times. It is written in such an unfamiliar style that it is hard work to read and understand. I admit… sometimes it’s just a matter of reading it and hoping some sort of revelation will surface.

But meanwhile, the verse I chose for this monumental day is this one…

“Let them all praise the name of the LORD. For his name is very great; his glory towers over the earth and heaven!” (Psalms 148:13 NLT)

Amen.

Day 171

“Though the LORD is great, he cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud.” (Psalms 138:6 NLT)

Because pride is a sin.

What does humble mean anyway, in this day and age? I think it means to be level headed. Not to be boastful or arrogant. To be quietly resolute.

All good attributes, I would say.

Day 160

“Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.” (Psalms 127:3 NLT)

With Father’s Day approaching, this seemed particularly appropriate.

Some fathers take their children for granted. All fathers need to remember this: a child is a gift and needs to be handled with care.

Day 151

“Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene.” (John 19:25 NLT)

Who was there when Jesus was crucified?

It seems like each of the Gospel writers has a different account. Who were the witnesses?

In John’s Gospel, he lists four women and in the verse which follows he lists a male disciple, probably John himself. Who was Mary, the wife of Clopas? A significant person if she was allowed to stay for these emotional moments for his family.

It is hard to pretend that women do not have an important role to play in the early days of the church.

And as the Church of England moves towards the inevitable decision to approve women Bishops, it is wonderful to see that (not before time) women will be given equal rights to men.

I was puzzled this week to overhear someone call the church old fashioned. And then I read this and the thought struck me: how can we say it is not when we still treat women differently?

Day 133

“‘Is it legal to convict a man before he is given a hearing?’ He asked.” (John 7:51)

Something rare happened tonight. I read the four chapters which the Bible app had selected for today and found nothing jumping out at me. Including Proverbs, which is normally a great stand-by.

So I chose this one. The Pharisees are arguing among themselves. Some say Jesus should be arrested right now. But one of them says this. Jesus needs a proper hearing.

The evidence is not exactly stacking up. In fact, they can find nothing to arrest Jesus for. I love the way the Gospel writer, John, is giving us quite a few instances where it was not all cut and dried. It is not an open and shut case. The waters were muddy. (How many more cliches can I include here?)

Basically, what is the case against him?

Day 128

“Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment.” (John 5:29b NLT)

This was one of those days when the readings all spoke the same message. Even Proverbs! But I chose this verse because I am really enjoying the heartfelt message that John is writing about. He isn’t just recounting the incidents from Jesus’ ministry, he is spelling out in detail and with a depth of conviction just who Jesus is and what he stands for.

And it is absolutely crucial to underline the one important word here. “continued” in evil.

So if you fall and sin, you are not doomed. There is still a chance for you. And me!

It’s not all over with one misdeed. This is a real message of hope.

Don’t give up.