In case you thought I forgot, I didn’t. Didn’t what? Forget about setting up a new bible plan. In fact, my friend Scott did all the research and recommended “The One Year ® Bible” that is available through YouVersion. I really hope everyone joins us. Quite frankly, we have no reason not to read God’s primary communication with us. Certainly, we communicate with God through prayer, but that is almost a one-way transaction. The bible is God speaking directly to us. You can’t get around that. It is an intentional, deliberate, and direct communication to you from God. Yes, prayer is vital, but there is no way you can use it in place of reading your bible. Besides, it is a pleasure to read the bible. When you go into it with a good attitude, the scripture is alive and signing! Even through all those long lists, one can hear God signing loudly to and about you. It’s true. And, oh, the benefit of knowing your bible, where to find things, what they mean, and how to apply it in everyday circumstances. I am no expert, but I would say I am pretty street-smart when it comes to the bible. How did I get that way? By reading it. There simply are no shortcuts. How many times have I read it? Cover to cover, probably five times. Some books, many, many times. Some pages of my bible are pretty worn.
Suit yourself, but I recommend reading a paper bible. Use the app as a tool to keep track and to make images to share, but do your reading and highlighting in your go-to bible. I have a pocket-sized ESV that I use for everyday use. I like it because it DOESN’T have all the notes and commentary. I have another bible for that. My bible is the one full of highlighting, underlining, and my own notes. I am very familiar with it and can find anything quickly simply because I know where it is. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” Top left on the left page, in the kings area of the bible. I can quickly find 2 Chronicles 16:9. It’s really good to be able to quickly find important verses. Yes, it’s good to memorize verses. I’m weak on this, to my shame. But, there is something about reading the printed word of God that simply soothes the soul.
So, will you join us? Hop in on YouVersion and look me up. Send a friend request. We can encourage each other with our progress. Trust me, it’s easier to stay current when you’re doing it with others.
Last night I read about Jesus sending out the twelve. This is a long passage, so let me focus on one thing for today:
Matthew 10:7-8 And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay.
We tend to think of Jesus as being the miracle machine, but he also sent his disciples out. Plus, he also sent out the 72. Remember that? So, we have the entire region being canvassed by healings and the casting out of demons, not to mention raising the dead! Can you imagine this? No wonder he had throngs of people following him where ever he went. Would you have gone to see all this? I bet you would have. I bet you would have brought family and friends to be healed. I’m sure most everyone was skeptical, but evidently that soon went away.
Why did God do all this? I guess it is to show them, and us, the restoration that comes with the kingdom. All disease, possession, and even death is eliminated. It was meant to be compelling proof to believe in Jesus. As Jesus told Philip:
John 14:11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
Yet, we know that only a few believed. In fact, we know that raising of the dead won’t in itself make people believe, as Jesus taught us regarding The Rich Man and Lazarus:
Luke 16:31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’
What should we make of this? Let’s see what Jesus has to say.
John 12:36b-43 When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believe in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
Ok, folks, these are tough, tough verses. It almost seems that there must be some mistake, that there are typos. It seems opposite of what we think it should say. Check it out for yourself. There are many, many such passages like this. Yes, there is a component of will regarding our salvation. In fact, without it, we will not be saved, as we see with the Pharisees in this passage. However, the question remains, “Where does that initial faith come from?” The answer to that is God, and God alone. “
Romans 9:14-16 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
Folks, our go-to tactic is to try to convince our loved ones to believe in Jesus. We think that if we only can say the right words, all will be well. Yet, we can see on the pages of scripture an event like none other sweep across Israel, yet that was not enough for them to believe. Honestly, until we come to understand that the business of conversion is God’s, and God’s alone, we will only become exasperated. Then we will lose all desire to share the gospel. Why? Because our efforts cannot produce the results we desire.
However, when we realize that God is the one in charge, we can be free to share the gospel without reservation or restriction. Because we are not trying to obtain something (someone’s salvation), we no longer have pressure to perform. Seriously, if the balance between someone’s eternity in heaven or hell depended on my persuasive skills, I would simply go insane or shut down. But, if I can tell people about Jesus just because of who he is, then we can sign like the birds with no cares or restriction. In fact, we will want to. Wait. We won’t be able to contain ourselves. That’s it.
That’s exactly it. We won’t be able to contain ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t care about someone’s eternity. I have simply come to realize I am not able to influence it no matter what. Therefore, I can enjoy telling everyone about Jesus because I have nothing to lose. I already have everything gained. Everything.
John 10:27-30 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who have given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
See how this rolls?
Father, thank you for the assurance of eternal life. I ask that you touch those reading this to start a bible plan for the new year. Compel them to do it. We are all lazy, Lord, and we need you to guide us. Let us not need a bit or bridle. Amen.
Copyright © 2017 Scott Powers