Bible in One Year

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December 5 Day 339

God's Purpose for You

Purpose in life is far more important than property or possessions. Having more to live with is no substitute for having more to live for. ‘The two greatest days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why’ (Mark Twain).

God has a specific purpose for you. In addition, God’s general will for all of us is revealed in the Bible. In the passages for today we see what God wants for you and for everyone.

December 4 Day 338

Four Keys to Overcoming Fear

‘God loves you unconditionally, wholeheartedly and continually.’ These were the words of the late Alex Buchanan, described as a pastor to the pastors. He was partially blind and suffered a stroke that affected one side of his face. I remember hearing him speak about God’s love and he kept repeating the words, ‘God loves you unconditionally, wholeheartedly and continually.’

When he finished his talk he came up to me and said, ‘Do you believe that God approves of you?’ I said, ‘Actually, I really struggle with that because I know things about myself that mean I find it difficult to believe that God approves of me.’ He replied, ‘We all struggle with that. But God wants you to know that he approves of you. He wants you to know he loves you unconditionally, wholeheartedly and continually.’

If I were asked to summarise what I thought the Bible was all about in one word – apart from the word ‘Jesus’ – I would choose the word ‘love’. Twice in today's New Testament passage John writes, ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8,16). The word ‘love’ is used widely in our society. Nowhere in the Bible does it say, ‘Love is God’. In other words, it is God who defines what love is rather than the other way around. God is love.

This is the message you need to understand yourself, meditate on constantly and speak about to the world: ‘God is love’.

Here is the answer to the greatest longing of the world today. People are looking for love. Their hearts are searching. When you really know God’s love for you, your life is transformed. As we will see in the New Testament passage for today, God’s love is at the heart of each of the four keys to overcoming unhealthy fear in your life: ‘There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear’ (v.18).

December 3 Day 337

How to Be Confident

To describe someone as ‘confident’ is usually meant as a compliment. But, there is a right and wrong form of confidence. The wrong form of confidence involves valuing yourself over and against God. This is arrogance. The right form of confidence involves valuing yourself in and through Christ. Confidence in the natural world is self-reliance. In the spiritual world, it is God-reliance. Supremely, it involves confidence in the presence of God.

December 2 Day 336

From Vision to Action

Jackie Pullinger has spent her life working with the poor and destitute, triad gang members, heroin and opium addicts. She has helped thousands to come off drugs through the power of the Holy Spirit. She has seen transformation in numerous lives and has made a huge impact on the city of Hong Kong.

Jackie wrote, ‘I have spent over half my life in a dark, foul smelling place because I had a “vision” of another city ablaze with light, it was my dream. There was no more crying, no more death or pain. The sick were healed, addicts set free, the hungry filled. There were families for orphans, homes for the homeless, and new dignity for those who lived in shame. I had no idea how to bring this about but with “visionary zeal” imagined introducing the Walled City people to the one who could change it all: Jesus.’

Vision is a ‘holy discontent’ – a deep dissatisfaction with what is, combined with a clear grasp of what could be. It is a picture – ‘a mental sight’ – of the future that inspires hope.

Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision is a nightmare! But vision combined with action can change the world.

December 1 Day 335

How to Avoid Spiritual Infections

Joseph Lister, the nineteenth-century medic, is known as ‘the father of antiseptic surgery’. Lister was disturbed by the high proportion of patients who died from post-operative infections.

He became convinced that infinitesimal microbes, invisible to the naked eye, were causing the infections. He began to develop a number of antiseptic solutions with which to treat the wounds. Sure enough, the proportion of patients dying from infections decreased.

In a similar way, there are evil spiritual forces at work in our world today. They cannot be seen, but they wreak havoc in people’s lives, causing them to fall into temptation, moving evil people into positions of national power, manipulating people’s emotions, tearing them apart and destroying them.

But just as Lister’s contemporaries dismissed his theory of destructive microbes, many people today are ignorant or dismissive of spiritual realities. Yet you have the powerful spiritual ‘antiseptic’ to use against these destructive forces. It is vital that you learn to do so.

November 30 Day 334

Intimate Connections

Fellowship – it’s a wonderful word. It’s what you were made for. It satisfies the deepest longings of your heart. It is the answer to loneliness. Nothing in this life compares with it. It starts now and goes on forever.

There is no greater joy in life than fellowship. John wants his readers to enjoy the same fellowship he has: ‘We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!’ (1 John 1:3, MSG).

Koinonia, the Greek word used for fellowship, is almost untranslatable. It expresses a relationship of great intimacy and depth. It even became the favourite expression for the marital relationship – the most intimate between human beings. It is a rich word that describes a life together in which everything is shared. This is the word that John uses of our intimate relationship with God (v.3).

It also describes our relationship with one another. You can have deep genuine friendships and honest communication. There is no need for masks or ‘spin’ or ‘image’. You can be real before God and before others. The result is a level of intimate connection with one another that is best summed up in this beautiful word, ‘fellowship’.

November 29 Day 333

God's Perfect Timing

God has his own sense of timing: ‘With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day’ (2 Peter 3:8). He has perfect timing: never early, never late. God is never in a hurry, but he is always on time.

We see in today’s passages that the Lord is sovereign over the future (Daniel 4:32). ‘We are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth’ (2 Peter 3:13). God is going to vindicate his people (Psalm 135:14).

But what do you do while you are waiting for God to do what he has promised to do?

November 28 Day 332

How to be Inspired

A few years ago at HTB, I interviewed two people of courage and faith. One, Ben Freeth, inspired by his faith in Jesus Christ, has taken a courageous stance against the unjust regime in Zimbabwe. As a result, he was beaten, tortured and forced to watch his elderly mother-in-law and father-in-law undergo torture from which the latter eventually died. Yet in the midst of his suffering, he chose to love and bless the torturers.

The second was a pastor from one of the sixty countries around the world where physical persecution of Christians still takes place. He had been imprisoned and, at one stage, sentenced to death for no other reason than his faith in Jesus Christ. Yet in the face of extreme suffering he refused to deny his faith.

The lives of men and women like this are hugely inspiring, challenging and motivational.

November 27 Day 331

There is a God and He is Great

I studied and practised law for nearly ten years. In every legal case, evidence is vital. Evidence matters to me. I could not be a Christian if I did not believe that our faith is based on compelling evidence. There is good evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Over recent years, there has been a spate of books by the ‘new atheists’ suggesting that there is no evidence for God; that God is a ‘delusion’ (‘The God Delusion’) and that ‘God is Not Great’ (the title of another of these books). While of course, the Bible does not try to provide a scientific proof for the existence of God, it does point to the evidence of ‘eye-witnesses’ (2 Peter 1:16) and proclaims that ‘there is a God in heaven’ (Daniel 2:28) and that ‘the Lord is great’ (Psalm 135:5).

There is good reason to put your trust in God. You will grow in faith as you study the truth of God’s word and boldly proclaim that ‘there is a God’ and ‘he is great’.

November 26 Day 330

God's Great Grace

Seeing a crowd of condemned criminals being led up to execution, John Bradford (c.1510–1555), the English reformer, is said to have remarked: ‘There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford.’

In 1807, John Newton, best known as composer of the hymn, ‘Amazing Grace’, encapsulated the amazing grace of God in some of his last words as he lay dying. He declared: ‘I am a great sinner but Christ is a great Saviour.’

In today’s New Testament passage, Peter speaks of ‘the God of all grace’ (1 Peter 5:10). How should you respond to God’s great grace?