So, it’s nearly the end of the year. Everyone is thinking wha their pursuits for 2019 are going to be. Once again, I’m going to try and tackle the Bible in One Year (I got about 2 months in last time I tried a few years back. I’ve tried a lot. I know Genesis pretty well by now).
I’ve cheated a little and given myself a head start. So, I’m already on about day 5. I’m hoping to give myself a buffer for when things go wrong.
I’ve got the YouVersion Bible app, which is great for a number of reasons. However, I’m quite excited about the Bible In One Year reading plan they have. Each day its got a devotional, written by Nicky Gumbel (with some additions by his wife Pippa. They’ve recorded it so you can just sit back and listen to it. The YouVersion have also got hold of David Suchet’s recording of the NIV. So you can listen to the Bible readings (I tend to read along with it). The whole multi-sensory experience seems to be a lot easier.
Although Christians today are really wary of promoting a prosperity Gospel (and rightly so), the Bible is abundantly clear that righteousness and a closeness with God brings blessings and prosperity (but probably not of the material kind). Psalm 1:3 tells us this is this case.
We live in a world of self-improvement and 5-minute hacks and short cuts. It seems to me that pursuing a relationship with God is way easier and more beneficial than most of the “hacks” or lifestyle advice we get given. God promises countless blessings.
Again, I don’t want it to seem like God only gives us things if we work for it. If we do our chores of reading the Bible, praying and being good people, then God will give us gifts. God isn’t an omnipotent Santa. He’s much better than that. The Bible, the living Word of God, is the blessing; praying to a good and loving Father is the blessing; living a life worthy of the Gospel is the blessing. God has already offered these things. We just have to reach out to receive them. I often remember the picture of God and Adam: God’s hand outstretched and Adam limply responding. That’s often how we receive God’s blessings.
In Genesis 1, God created creation: the stars, the mountains, the oceans, the plants, the animals. He said that this was “good”. The most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen; a flock of starlings swooping and swirling through the sky in mesmerising formations; that mighty thunderstorm where the sky is dazzling bright then the earth is ringing with an echoing boom. These things are “good”.
Then God made people. He saw humankind and said that this was “very good”. So, next time you are in awe of nature, think for a moment that this is “good” but God thinks you’re more impressive, beautiful and awe-inspiring than that. I pray that 2019 is a year when we can see ourselves and those around us as God does: very good.