Bible in One Year

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January 10 Day 10

Facing the Storms of Life

On 31 July 2003, the adventurer Bear Grylls led a team of five across the North Atlantic Ocean in an inflatable rigid dinghy. They set out from Halifax, Nova Scotia, heading for John o’ Groats, Scotland. On 5 August, a great storm arose. There were 100-foot waves. They lost satellite contact. They (and we) feared for their lives. Thankfully they survived to tell the tale (see Facing the Frozen Ocean by Bear Grylls).

Not all of us will have to face physical storms of this kind. But Jesus said that we would all face the storms of life (Matthew 7:25–27). Life is not easy. These storms are many and varied. Abraham, David and Jesus’ disciples all faced storms in their lives. What can we learn from their example?

January 9 Day 9

Trust God to Put Things Right

Pippa and I enjoy doing crosswords together. When we are stuck on one clue we don’t give up, we move on to the next clue. Every time we find an answer it helps us in resolving some of the other clues. In the end, we are sometimes able to solve most of the puzzle (although rarely all of it!)

In a way, reading some of the difficult parts of the Bible is like trying to solve a crossword puzzle. Rather than getting bogged down in a tricky section, you can use the passages you do understand to help you resolve some of the more difficult ones.

Often I find it hard not only to understand some of the difficult passages in the Bible, but also to understand why certain things are happening in our world. There seems to be so much injustice. There are no easy answers.

I love the second great rhetorical question from yesterday’s passage, ‘Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?’ (Genesis 18:25). One thing that you can be sure about is that on the last day, when all is revealed, you will see God’s perfect judgment – and everyone will say, ‘That is absolutely right.’ Each of today’s passages tells us something about the fact that, in the end, God will put things right.

January 8 Day 8

Nothing is Too Hard for the Lord

Are you facing a seemingly impossible situation in your life? Is there an apparently irretrievable breakdown in a relationship? A serious health issue? An almost impossible challenge in your job? Is there a habit or an addiction that you are finding hard to break?

Whatever challenges you may face in the year ahead, nothing is too hard for the Lord.

Abraham was a hundred years old. His wife Sarah was ninety. God promised them a son. They said, in effect, ‘That is impossible.’ This is the context of the great rhetorical question: ‘Is anything too hard for the Lord?’ (Genesis 18:14). The answer is ‘No’. If Sarah could conceive when ‘already very old, and… past the age of childbearing’ (v.11), then nothing is too hard for the Lord.

In each of the three great challenges we see in today’s passages we need to remember that nothing is too hard for the Lord.

January 7 Day 7

Your Double Blessing

I love the word ‘mercy’. I am so thankful that God is a God of mercy. William Shakespeare captured something of the wonder of mercy in Portia’s speech in The Merchant of Venice:

‘The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.’
                                               Act IV Scene I

You are blessed when you receive mercy and you are blessed when you are merciful to others.

January 6 Day 6

Directions for Life

Pippa and I are often in a hurry. We are not good at planning our car journeys. We often set off in the wrong direction and frequently get lost (even with a satnav!). I don’t know why it has taken me so long to learn the importance of getting good directions and following them.

Many of us are like this in life. We charge off in a hurry. We don’t realise the importance of getting good directions for life. If you follow God’s directions for life, you will enjoy his blessing and bring blessing to others.

January 5 Day 5

God Will Give You Good Things

We all seek happiness. We are all searching for love. We are all desperate for peace. But so often, we look in the wrong places.

St Augustine prayed, ‘Lord... you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.’ God is the source of all good things.

January 4 Day 4

Battles and Blessings

I have never forgotten a talk I heard over thirty years ago. The speaker started by saying that the Christian life is ‘battle and blessing, battle and blessing, battle and blessing, battle and blessing, battle and blessing... battle and blessing…’

At the time I thought, ‘Why is he going on like this? Will it never end?’ But he was making a memorable and profound point. When we are in the battle it is hard to believe that it will ever come to an end. When we are in a period of blessing we sometimes expect it will go on forever. But life is not like that. There are battles and blessings.

Pastor Rick Warren says that he used to think that the Christian life was a succession of battles and blessings, whereas now he thinks of life as being on two tracks. At any given moment in life there are usually blessings, but also battles to face.

He gives the example of the huge blessing that came to him through the publication of The Purpose Driven Life, which became the fastest-selling Christian book of all time. It gave him enormous influence. But at the same time he found out that his wife, Kay, had cancer. On one track of his life there was great blessing; on the other track there was a massive battle to face.

January 3 Day 3

Talk as You Walk

I love walking. Apparently, it is one of the best forms of physical exercise. Of course, walking is also a means, and for some people their only means, of transport.

Walking for whatever reason is more enjoyable with someone else. Walking and talking is a great way to communicate with family, friends and also with God.

The point is that we are doing two things at the same time. We are not just taking exercise or travelling. As we walk together we are in communion with one another. Both Enoch and Noah ‘walked with God’ (Genesis 5:24; 6:9). They didn’t just sit, kneel or stand with God (the kind of actions we would often associate with spending time with God), but they were also in communion with God when doing something else. While you are doing other things – working, eating, exercising or relaxing – you can be in communion with God at the same time.

Personally, I also find it the best way to pray. This has been my pattern for the last few years. After reading the Bible each day, I go out and walk around our local park – which is almost deserted early in the morning. I often take with me a pen and paper to write down anything I sense the Holy Spirit saying as I pray. You can pray as you walk to the bus stop or walk between meetings during the day. Talk as you walk.

The Bible has a great deal to say about walking with God. It is how you were intended to live. God’s desire for you is that you walk humbly in a relationship with him (Micah 6:8). This is what Jesus has made possible – for you to walk as Jesus did (1 John 2:6). You may stumble from time to time, but one day you will walk with him ‘dressed in white’ (Revelation 3:4).

January 2 Day 2

Your First Question

‘What is your first question going to be?’ I was preparing my cross-examination for one of the first criminal trials in which I was involved when I worked as a barrister. A senior and experienced lawyer was helping me prepare. He showed me the significance of a first question.

January 1 Day 1

New Year's Resolutions

I belong to a squash club, which is also a gym. Each year on 1 January they bring in extra gym equipment. The place is packed out. By about 7 January, they move out all the extra equipment, as most people have given up their New Year’s resolution, and the club returns to normal!

  • Get fit
  • Lose weight
  • Reduce drinking
  • Stop smoking
  • Get out of debt

There is nothing wrong with making these common New Year’s resolutions. Of course, all of us make resolutions that we fail to keep.

The good news is that each year is an opportunity for a fresh start. But then so is each week. Every Sunday is the first day of the week – a new beginning. Actually, every day is an opportunity for a new beginning.

The first three words in the Bible are, ‘In the beginning…’ (Genesis 1:1). Each of the passages for today tells us something about new beginnings and new opportunities, and suggests some possible New Year’s resolutions.