Happy New Year 2016

happy-new-year-2016Happy New Year to my readers and followers!

2015 was certainly an interesting year, and unfortunately not only in positive ways. When we see some of the things happening in the world around us – politically, culturally, and socially – it can sometimes be overwhelming and discouraging. Charles Spurgeon made  a statement over 125 years ago that rings so true in our day: “This present age is so flippant that if a man loves the Savior he is styled a fanatic, and if he hates the powers of evil he is named a bigot.”

This should not be surprising, for the scriptures teach that the wheat and the tares will continue to grow together on earth until the return of Christ and the final day of judgment. The good news is that God is all-sovereign and all-knowing. Nothing takes Him by surprise; He has all of His creation under His control and has ordained everything that comes to pass for His purposes and ultimately for His glory. If you are His child, you may rest in the knowledge that He loves you and is using everything in your life for your good, to sanctify you and mold you into the image of His Son.

As we are about to enter a new year, as I do every year I once again exhort you to make the reading of God’s Word a priority and a regular part of your daily routine. Why not make it one of your goals (dare I say, Resolution) to read through the entire Bible this year? If you profess to be a Christian and claim to believe the whole Bible, have you read it in its entirety? The Westminster Catechism sums up what God’s Word, the Bible, is all about:, “The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man” (Question #3); in other words, who God is, and how I should live. That’s it in a nutshell. These are the two main issues I need to know if I am to live the Christian life.

If you’ve never attempted to read the whole Bible, it helps to understand the format. The Bible is not meant to be read like a novel. Rather, it’s a collection of works of different genres – history and biography, poetry and songs, letters and sermons, etc., written by 30-40 different people (priests and prophets, teachers and lawyers, kings and politicians, shepherds and fishermen; rich and poor, educated and uneducated), who encountered and had a relationship with God. There’s one consistent theme or message that runs through the entire work: Man is a fallen creature (Genesis, Chapter 3), and God is in the business of redeeming a people out of fallen creation back into a relationship with Himself. The Old Testament provides the background for why this plan was needed, and the New Testament shows how this plan was carried out in Christ.

There are a number of ways you can approach reading through the Bible, and various reading plans have been designed to make it simple and quite doable. You may want to go through the Old Testament first, then move into the New; or you might prefer reading portions from both Testaments every day throughout the year. There are several One Year Bibles on the market published in different versions. I also recommend reading through a Chronological Bible at least once. The books of the Bible are organized by type, not necessarily in the order in which the events occurred. A chronological Bible will give you a good understanding of the sequence of events in which they took place historically. (Did you know that Job probably lived before Moses?)

The Bible isn’t a book that is meant to be read once, then checked off a list and set aside. Augustine remarked, “God’s Word is shallow enough not to drown the young, but deep enough that the greatest theologian will never touch the bottom.” Every year I read through the entire Bible, varying the method I use from year to year. This year for the first time I’m going to use a Bible app on my phone for my reading plan. Every time I revisit a particular passage I am in a different place in my life and different mindset, and God uses His Word to teach, challenge, or encourage me as needed at the time. God has promised that when His Word goes out, “it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). I doubt any true Christian ever went to his death thinking, “I sure wish I hadn’t wasted so much time reading the Bible.”

And when things around us in life get crazy and confusing in 2016 (as they undoubtedly will), if we are consistently in His Word it will serve as an anchor as we cling to the truths and promises of God. Also, if you haven’t yet done so, take a look at my lists of fiction, non-fiction, and biographies that I believe would be profitable reading as well.

Check out some of the Bible reading plans listed below. May the Lord bless the reading of His Word and other worthwhile books to the good of your soul and mind in the year 2016!

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