It's New Year's Day. We're feeling a little fatter, a little older. For some of us the Christmas season was a blur, for others -- cause for the blues.
Once again, we didn't get what we really wanted.
For many of us, it's a time to pour our resolve into a resolution. It may be to lose weight, manage our money better, be nicer to our spouses.
It may last two to three weeks before we degenerate into "What was I thinking?" and write it off like a gambling loss on our taxes.
I propose something a little different. I propose that we give ourselves one last after-Christmas present.
It is a gift that keeps on giving.
It is the perfect gift for that man or woman who has .... nothing.
What I propose is that you dedicate yourself to reading the Bible -- every word of it -- in 2009.
Now hear me out. It isn't as hard as it seems. You can have a part of it emailed to you every day from www.bibleinayear.org -- or you can buy a Bible that has the one-year program in the back. You can put it on a spreadsheet you check off every day. You don't have to read it front to back. You can jump back and forth, Old Testament to New Testament.
The best way to do it? Whatever way works, for you. But make it a priority. Treat those emails as if they were from God Himself (they are, you know). Don't delete them and don't create a special folder for them where they pile up like spam.
For one year, you will be living in God's word. You will relive the stories of Cain and Abel, Noah, Job, the woman at the well, the resurrection of Jesus Himself.
You will access the wisdom of Solomon, the healing of Psalms, the parables of Jesus. And you will find they all apply to your life -- today -- as they have applied to the lives of all mankind from the beginning.
Spiritually, you can't help but grow closer to God through this exercise.
John 10:3-4 puts it this way:
The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice."
Scripture is the voice of God. But it is not His only voice. As we come to know it in scripture, we will begin to recognize it in our lives as well.
Some of you may have read the Bible cover-to-cover before, maybe several times. For you I have an additional challenge. You know how you have those favorite passages that make you feel good about yourself? This time through -- ignore them.
Instead, I propose that you find those passages that you don't understand, that you disagree with, that make you uncomfortable -- and dwell in them. Because, let's face it, if you disagree with God, the fault lies in you.
For those of you who worry you will miss your "traditional" New Year's resolution, take heart. There is a very good chance your Bible reading will help you. What better remedy for the seven deadly sins of anger, gluttony, greed, envy, pride, lust and sloth than the fruits of the Holy Spirit as outlined by the Apostle Paul:
Of course, you won't get that far if you give up on this resolution after two weeks.That won't even get you out of Genesis. But if you hold on, say, to day 305, you'll get this gem from John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
Let's resolve to listen to Him this year.
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That's a wonderful resolution, Al, and I pray with you that many will take heed. I found many ways that I thought would help me stick to it and read through the Bible as well. None of them worked... until I signed up for a daily e-mail (not the same one you mentioned) that contains a few scriptures per day, plus one series of scriptures daily for a week for a "weekly meditation." Come to think of it, I've been getting them for about a year now. I think I'll just keep getting them... every year, if the Lord's willing.