New Year's Revolution
Happy New Year! Our first Sunday together as a church family since the holidays was a superb beginning to the new year. His year. 2022.
In the morning we began a series in the book of Ecclesiastes, and it was wonderful as we started to unpack what life is truly all about. In the evening service we gathered to ‘Take a Look’ and began revisiting the foundations of our faith in Christ.
At the evening gathering we have a time of open prayer which we do in two sections. In section one we ‘pray in’ what we discovered in the Bible talk, and in section two we pray for one another and the needs of the parish and world. Judging by our prayers last night there was great joy in this opportunity to reflect on God as our powerful Creator in charge of all things as well as being the One who ‘speaks’, and who has spoken most powerfully in the person of his Son. What a good start to the new year!
And reflecting on this happy Sunday, I began to think about our individual Bible reading, remembering how vital it is to have a habit of reading God’s word daily.
On recent mornings I have been reading a section of the book of Hebrews, which seems to have been written to struggling Jewish Christians. For whatever reason (peer pressure, persecution, or the exhausting trials of life), they are drifting away from the faith and even thinking about returning to the comfort of Judaism. So, the writer exhorts them to see afresh that ‘Jesus is better!’ and urges them to keep meeting together continuously to remind one another …about the truth of Jesus (3:13-14). We are as prone to drift as these first-generation Christians were (3:12), therefore we need to strive to “consider Jesus” (3:1ff).
Life can be really pressured for us too, so we must keep meeting together as regularly as we can in 2022. Sadly though, some may be getting into the habit of not doing it (10:25) and need our encouragement. However, gloriously, we can also meet daily with the One whose throne is for ever and ever (1:8), the Lord Jesus! and it is through his word that he speaks to us today.
On Sunday morning some of us might have begun thinking that Ecclesiastes was a bit of a tricky gear-change after the delights of the Christmas narrative. However, we soon found that this book of wisdom is as relevant and life-giving today than it was thousands of years ago. We so need this wisdom delivered to us from God’s Teacher. We need to learn to fear the Lord in faithfulness and humility – learning to enjoy both the ups and downs of this life while we are fixing our hope on the next.
So, we cannot go wrong if we are regular Bible readers, whether it is just a few verses or a few chapters. God knows our limitations of time or attention span and lovingly wants to feed us whoever we are.
Here are just three reasons why we should all resolve to read the Bible every day in 2022:
God’s Word is …Personal
In Hebrews 4 the writer knows the importance of listening to our Father God so we might learn how to live for him, enjoying the life he has called us to. Our Father God’s word is “alive” (4:12) because he is revealing to us a living person! By the power of his Holy Spirit when we encounter the word, we encounter God…. personally. We sit at his feet (Luke 10:39). He teaches… me (Psalm 23:1)!
God’s Word is …Powerful
God’s word is “active” (Hebrews 4:12). Powerful. It does not just say things, it does things (EG Isaiah 55:11). As one writer puts it, ‘God’s word is busy working, changing, building, convicting, encouraging, exposing, rebuking, giving light and wisdom, carving out the path of our lives and showing us the truth of God’ (Michael Kruger – who helped with my three headings too! – check out his commentary on the book of Hebrews).
God’s Word is …Penetrating
His word is designed to cut through the nonsense (see Ecclesiastes!). In fact, it is to penetrate the hardest substance of all. Not granite, or diamond but...our hearts (Hebrews 3:7-8). In his mercy, his word exposes who we are. The Bible can feel like a mirror. As I read it, I see things about myself that I never saw before: my true character, my intentions, and my motivations
As we read his word – we do so prayerfully, asking our Father God to grow us, change us, and make us more like his Son Jesus.
If you need some help in your desire to read the Bible, please let your grow group leader know or speak to Tor Moir who runs the bookstall. There are plenty of resources available and you will find that people use a whole variety. If you want to look on-line then you could try: www.openupthebible.org where there are some great little articles and ‘helps’ to choosing booklets that help you read a section of the Bible etc. (I will make a few hard copies of the booklet based on this website available on Sunday January 16th on the table at the back).
Or you could try ‘St Paul’s Online Bookstall’ [See the website “Resources”] which has Bible-helps for all ages. Also, you could explore ‘The Good Book Company’ website [www.thegoodbook.co.uk] clicking on the link: “Daily Bible Reading.”
But whatever the method let 2022 be a year where we are committed to regular Bible reading, growing in love for our Father God and his children, rather than drifting into danger.
Perhaps pray this prayer slowly - mulling over and praying each line carefully:
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
[The Book of Common Prayer]