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You can do it.  Reading the Bible…you can do it.  Those may have been the most important words that Greg spoke on Sunday.  You really can do it.  I know the Bible is big and intimidating and often confusing.  I’ve cowered at the thought of reading it all.  But I took a step of faith a couple of years ago and made a commitment that I would not stop until I finished reading the entire Bible using the One Year Bible reading plan.  Well, I didn’t finish it in 12 months, and when I got behind, I got really frustrated.  However, I kept going and eventually read the entire Bible.  Let me just tell you as I honestly as I can about my experience and a few things I learned:

 

1)      The Bible is not a huge book that is impossible to read.  Honestly, the Bible has some parts that are very difficult to understand and hard to figure out why they were even included in Scripture.  However, the more I read, the more understandable it has become.  I figured out that I couldn’t really follow Jesus if all I did was take someone else’s word for what was in Scripture.  To follow Jesus requires regular time with Him (John 15:4), a faith that comes from hearing the Word (Romans 10:17), and courage to follow what you read (Joshua 1:7-9) that can only be found when you get to know the grace, power, and faithfulness of the God we follow.  And all of that requires more from us than an hour and a half every Sunday.

 

2)      Though I once thought that I didn’t have time to read the Bible, when I made a commitment and had a Bible reading plan, I found that the plan gave me confidence to move forward with focused intention rather than just wandering from Scripture to Scripture wondering when I would hear something from God.  Not everyday is a mountaintop experience, but God does promise that we will find Him when we seek Him with all of our hearts (Jeremiah 29:13).

 

3)      I never regretted the time I spent with God.  I never finished my time with God and thought, “Man, I really wish I wouldn’t have missed that TV show or sporting event or those extra 60 minutes of sleep.”  The Holy Spirit helped me to understand the Scripture but, more importantly, cultivated a more intimate relationship with God.

 

4)      I’m not great at prayer.  However, I found that reading and praying over Scripture gave me a more concrete way to interact with God on a regular basis and ensure that my prayers are not simply a list of all my needs but rather an adjustment of my perspective so that my requests line up with what God wants for me.

 

5)      I found that the more time I spent reading the Bible, the more my mind reminded me of Scripture throughout the day without even intending to do so.  The world is filled with messages about you and me, about money, about life, and about where we can find satisfaction.  Regular time in God’s Word helps us to see those messages for what they are and reminds us of important truths concerning who we are in Christ, the character of God, and where our hope lies.

 

6)      I was reminded again of just how awesome God has been to me.  I encountered God in a fresh way during that year or so and was blessed with a spirit of gratitude.  I mean, I spent years of my life running from God and doing just about everything I could to get away from Him.  But, even in my sin and shame, God continued to love me, pursue me, and graciously lead me back to Him.  He still offers that much needed grace and forgiveness to me today.  God’s faithfulness to me even when I haven’t been faithful to Him is something I don’t want to “get over”.  And that’s one reason I’ll never stop reading God’s Word.

 

I pray that as you begin to read the Word of God that you will be drawn to Him, that your heart will be soft and open to Scripture, and that your time with God will be more than just a reading assignment.  I pray that you will find peace and wisdom in the words from God and courage to follow what you hear from God.

 

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Do you imagine God would do His work THROUGH YOU?

If you’re like me, anytime I even think about God working through me, I begin to list all the reasons why God would never want to use me.  I mean, I’ve followed Christ for years, but I still hesitate at times to believe that God would want to use me.  I rehearse the many sins of my past and my present that I think disqualify me.  I list all of the skills and abilities that I don’t have that prevent me from being used by God.  I list all of the activities that are currently on my calendar that keep me too busy to do whatever God would want me to do.  I think of the Bible “superheroes” who all seemed to have incredible amounts of faith and participated in miracles, and I begin to convince myself that I just don’t have what it takes to be used by God.

But I also know that the most incredible thing about the people I read about in the Bible is not necessarily the people themselves.  As you probably already know, Abraham was a liar, David was an adulterer and murderer, Noah was a drunkard, and Moses was a coward.  All of these guys had a past that, like you and me, would lead us to believe that God could never use them.  However, the Bible is not a storybook full of superheroes.  Rather, it is full of stories of God’s redemptive work in the lives of sinners like you and me.

So as I look back on all my excuses for why God could never use me, I notice that the problem with my excuses is that they all depend on me.  I think that’s where most of us get off track.  You see, God hasn’t called us to show others how awesome we are but rather to humble ourselves and show others how awesome He is.  So let’s not worry about whether or not our lives look perfect, because Jesus is the only superhero here.  He’s done for us what none of us could do for ourselves.  Our job is to recognize our complete dependence upon Him and come to Him with a heart that is willing to do whatever He nudges us to do.  Whatever!

So maybe God isn’t asking you to slay any giants today.  Maybe He’s not asking you raise your arm and part any seas.  But maybe He is simply asking you to open yourself up to a conversation with the homeless man that you pass every day on your way to work.  Maybe He’s asking you to buy a few Christmas presents for the neighbor who you know lost his job.  Maybe He’s asking you to shovel the driveway for the single mother who’s always on the go.  Maybe He simply wants you to seek Him and find that one passion that He uses to make a difference in this world.  You don’t have to save the world.  You can’t save the world.  However, you could start by doing for one person what you wish you could for everyone.  Maybe, though unexpected, God may just work through you.  Won’t you at least consider the possibilities?