Bible in One Year

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February 12 Day 43

He Saved You

On 13 January 1982, Air Florida Flight 90 taking off from Washington, DC, crashed into the Potomac River. It was winter and the river was full of ice. The crash happened near a bridge going over the river. The TV cameras could see everything. Millions of viewers, sitting in their living rooms, watched as a helicopter overhead let down a life-belt on a line to a man struggling in the water. He grabbed the line, swam to another survivor just by him, clipped the woman in and they hoisted her up to safety. The helicopter let down the line again, and again the man did the same thing. He swam to someone else, and rescued them. He saved others, before finally, exhausted, he himself drowned.

Why did this man not save himself? The answer is that he was out to save others. In an even more amazing way, Jesus did not save himself because he was out to save you and me.

Today, focus your thoughts on Jesus, the Saviour of the world, and meditate on how he saved you.

February 11 Day 42

Freedom

Steve McQueen’s film Twelve Years a Slave is based on the memoirs of Solomon Northup, born free in New York state but kidnapped in Washington DC in 1841, sold into slavery and kept in bondage for twelve years in Louisiana. He describes at length the horrors of slavery on the cotton and sugar plantations.

Eventually, in 1853, he was rescued from slavery and reunited with his family. He wrote, ‘They embraced me, and with tears flowing down their cheeks, hung upon my neck. But I draw a veil over a scene that can better be imagined than described... I have been restored to happiness and liberty.’

Slavery, in any form, is a horrific evil. Freedom is a wonderful blessing.

Moses is the liberator of God’s people in the Old Testament. He foreshadows Jesus – the supreme liberator. As Moses set God’s people free from slavery, so Jesus sets you free from slavery to sin.

‘Freedom’ is probably the best contemporary word to define what the Bible means by ‘salvation’. The whole Bible could be summed up as the ‘history of salvation’. It is the story of God’s desire and purpose to free his people. You are set free.

February 10 Day 41

Life-Changing Words

My father wanted to go to Russia before he died. We went there on holiday as a family. At that time Bibles were strictly illegal there. I took with me some Russian Bibles. While I was there I went to churches and looked for people who seemed to be genuine Christians. (Church meetings were often infiltrated by the KGB.)

On one occasion, I followed a man down the street after a service. I went up to him and tapped him on the shoulder. There was nobody about. I took out one of my Bibles and handed it to him. For a moment, he had an expression of utmost disbelief. Then he took from his pocket a New Testament, which was probably 100 years old. The pages were so threadbare they were virtually transparent. When he realised that he had received a whole Bible, he was elated. He didn’t speak any English and I didn’t speak any Russian. But we hugged each other and he started to run up and down the street jumping for joy.

The words of God are ‘more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb’ (Psalm 19:10).

Why are the words of God so precious? Jesus said: ‘People do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Matthew 4:4). The original expression means ‘is continually coming out of the mouth of God’; it is like a stream pouring forth and, like the stream of a fountain, it is never static. God is continually communicating with us. He does so, primarily, through the life-changing words of the Bible.

February 9 Day 40

Five Excuses

It is the song most frequently played at British funeral services. It is the most remade song in history. It was popularised by Frank Sinatra on his 1969 album, My Way. In the Philippines, ‘My Way’ is so popular in karaoke bars that it has been declared responsible for a number of deaths where arguments over performance degenerated into violence!

And did it my way!
Yes, it was my way!’

‘I did it my way’ is the way of the world. It is not the way of Jesus. Jesus said, ‘Yet not as I will, but as you will’ (Matthew 26:39). He prays, ‘May your will be done’ (v.42). He made no excuses. Jesus did it God’s way. Moses, on the other hand, as we will see today, made five excuses before eventually agreeing to follow God’s way.

February 8 Day 39

How to Live in a Hostile Environment

Hundreds of thousands of Christians are among those who have fled Iraq and Syria in the midst of Islamic extremism and conflict. Christians face the threat of systematic torture and mass executions. Isis has declared Christianity as the number one enemy.

Millions of Christians live in countries where they are persecuted for their faith. Many governments try to control the growth of the church. Even in traditionally Christian countries, sometimes there is hostility towards vibrant Christianity. Hostility to the people of God is not something new. People are often threatened by success, growth and large numbers.

Perhaps you are facing hostility in your workplace or even in your family because of your faith. The passages today not only highlight the reality of living in a hostile environment, but they also point out how you can survive and thrive in the midst of such hostility.

February 7 Day 38

Use It or Lose It

Myra Hindley was one of the most notorious murderers of the twentieth century. Her crimes were almost unbelievably horrific. Yet, one person took it upon himself to visit her regularly while she was in prison.

Lord Longford (1905–2001) was a controversial figure who spent much of his life visiting prisoners, including Myra Hindley. Yet, no one can doubt his compassion and his faithfulness, both to God and to those he visited.

When he died, former prisoners joined hundreds of mourners to say farewell to the man who had spent his life faithfully fighting for society’s outcasts.

He found inspiration in the words of Jesus from today’s passage. On his deathbed he asked his wife, ‘You know what the most important quotation from the Bible is?’ He spoke his last words by answering his own question, quoting the words of Jesus: ‘I was in prison and you came to visit me’ (Matthew 25:36).

Life is not a competition that you have to win. It is not supposed to be a rat race. Life is a huge privilege and an opportunity. God has trusted you with gifts and abilities, which he wants you to use. Use them or lose them. He is faithful to us and he expects us to be faithful to him.

February 6 Day 37

The Secret Things

When I first encountered Jesus, I thought I had to know the answer to every question about faith. However, the more I have studied the Bible, the more I have realised that we do not need to know the answer to everything. There is such a thing as healthy agnosticism, or what might be described as biblical agnosticism.

There are some questions to which we do know the answer. But there are other questions to which the best answer we can give is, ‘I don’t know.’ ‘The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us’ (Deuteronomy 29:29a).

We need to be clear about what the Bible is clear about. Don’t be agnostic about what you can know. Equally, don’t be dogmatic about the things that the Bible is agnostic about.

In today’s passages, we see three examples of big questions that are frequently asked. In answer to each of these questions there are some things we know (‘the things revealed’) and some things we don’t know (‘the secret things’).

February 5 Day 36

How to Use Your Words for Good

If you include scientific words, there are over 1,000,000 words in the English language. The average person knows about 20,000 words and uses 2,000 different words a week. Women and men both speak about 16,000 words a day on average.

Your words matter. However, what matters most is not the number of words you speak but the kind of words you choose and the purpose for which you use them. The apostle James tells us that although ‘the tongue is a small part of the body’ it is extremely powerful (James 3:5). In the passages for today, we see how your words can be used, just as the apostle James describes, for good or evil. Each day you have great potential: either to destroy or to build.

In our passages for today we see six keys to using your words for good.

February 4 Day 35

Seven Characteristics of a Good Leader

‘Leadership is influence,’ writes John C. Maxwell, whose organisations have trained more than 1 million leaders worldwide. He points out that, according to sociologists, even the most isolated individual will influence 10,000 other people during his or her lifetime!

In one sense there is only one leader. In our New Testament reading today, Jesus says, ‘There is only one Life-Leader for you... Christ’ (Matthew 23:10, MSG). On the other hand, every Christian is called to be a leader in the sense that other people will look to you as an example. You have influence over others in different ways. To be called by God to influence others is an enormous privilege, but it carries with it great responsibility.

February 3 Day 34

Three Types of Victory in Your Life

José Henriquez was one of the thirty-three miners trapped 2,300 feet underground when a section of the San José copper mine in Northern Chile collapsed. It was 5 August 2010. For seventeen days all rescue attempts failed. There was no sign of life in the copper mine. The trapped miners had enough food for three days and a little drinking water. They faced the prospect of an agonising death through starvation.

I interviewed José Henriquez and his wife Bianca at HTB. He told how they had prayed to God for a miracle. He described the moment, on 22 August, when a drill broke through into the tunnel where the men were trapped. They hammered the drill with iron rods. They sprayed paint on it. They sent up many messages on it. Only one stayed on the drill as it went back up to the surface. The message read, ‘We’re fine. The 33 in the shelter.’

In total, the men survived a record sixty-nine days underground before they were brought to the surface. More than a billion people watched the rescue live on television. There were extraordinary scenes as everyone celebrated a wonderful victory.

The life of faith is full of challenges, difficulties and trials. But there are also times of victory. In the passages for today we see three different types of victory.