Why read? Because just like your body, your mind needs to be fed.
Why read the Bible? Because the One who made you, sustains you, and to whom you are ultimately accountable in the cosmos has communicated with you in writing.
Why read the Bible daily? Because you need to be reminded of the things you’ve forgotten and to rehearse the things you recall.
Why read the Bible daily with prayer? Because the Author is the best One with whom to discuss His will and your life.
Why read the Bible daily with prayer with others? Because while the world is full of trite conversation that is ultimately meaningless, you have the opportunity and privilege to discuss life’s most important matters with those who also are on a quest for God.
Why read the Bible daily with prayer with others in a Bible version new to you? Because you always need to have your mind sharpened, your heart challenged, and your ways affected.
And so, why not?
The Fresh Eyes project starts one week from today (Jan. 2) and runs through Apr. 1. It’s ninety days of reading that will take us through the entire New Testament together.
Put it in your head.
[Quoting P.T. Forsyth] “Without a holy God there would be no problem of atonement. It is the holiness of God’s love that necessitates the atoning cross.”
This vision of God’s holy love will deliver us from caricatures of him. We must picture him neither as an indulgent God who compromises his holiness in order to spare and spoil us, nor as a harsh, vindictive God who suppresses his love in order to crush and destroy us. How then can God express his holiness without consuming us, and his love without condoning our sins? How can God satisfy his holy love? How can he save us and satisfy himself simultaneously? We reply at this point only that, in order to satisfy himself, he sacrificed – indeed substituted – himself for us. (John R.W. Stott, The Cross of Christ, p.132)
Taking my cue from Seth Godin and Michael Hyatt, here are my recommendations for inexpensive e-books (about $5 or less) if Santa just happened to drop a Kindle in your lap recently.
The English Standard Version Bible (free)
The Velveteen Rabbit (free)
The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis ($.99)
Fearless by Max Lucado ($2.39)
Common English New Testament ($4.00)
Crazy Love by Francis Chan ($5.20)
Lord Teach Us: The Lord’s Prayer by William Willimon & Stanley Hauerwas ($5.20)
Radical by David Platt ($5.23)
First, the words of the Spirit-inspired apostle John …
The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John 1.14 CEB)
Second, an observation by the biblical scholar Leon Morris …
“The verb ‘beheld’ [“seen” in the CEB] is invariably used in John (as, for that matter, in the whole New Testament) of seeing with the bodily eye. It is not used of visions. John is speaking of that glory which was seen in the literal, physical Jesus of Nazareth.” (Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, p.93)
Third, my own reflections …
I’ve never literally seen the Word, God’s Son. But John did. I’ve never laid eyes on Him who is both truly real and really true. But John did. I have never gazed on the One who overflows with grace and glory. But John did.
My relationship with the God who sent His Word is not one based on my five senses, but on faith. This thing we call life calls for explanation and stories abound attempting to do just that. In which story will I place my trust and why?
I, for one, simply choose to take the word of this eyewitness of the Word. Until I see that Word in glory, by His grace, face-to-face.
And my prayer is that you would, too.
We must … hold fast to the biblical revelation of the living God who hates evil, is disgusted and angered by it, and refuses ever to come to terms with it. In consequence, we may be sure that, when he searched in his mercy for some way to forgive, cleanse and accept evil-doers, it was not along the road of moral compromise. It had to be a way which was expressive equally of his love and of his wrath. …
All inadequate doctrines of the atonement are due to inadequate doctrines of God and man. If we bring God down to our level and raise ourselves to his, then of course we see no need for a radical salvation, let alone for a radical atonement to secure it. When, on the other hand, we have glimpsed the blinding glory of the holiness of God, and have been so convicted of our sin by the Holy Spirit that we tremble before God and acknowledge that we are, namely “hell-deserving sinners,” then and only then does the necessity of the cross appear so obvious that we are astonished that we never saw it before. (John R.W. Stott, The Cross of Christ, p.109)
Though he was in the form of God, he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit. But he emptied himself by taking the form of a slave and by becoming like human beings. When he found himself in the form of a human, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God highly honored him and gave him a name above all names, so that at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2.6-11 CEB)
This is one of my favorite texts in all the Bible. I don’t want to detract or distract from the power of this passage so let me just get out of the way. Only let me ask you to read this Scripture to yourself several times in a row, asking yourself the following questions as you go, and praying through it all.
What does this passage say about Jesus? What does it say about God the Father? What does it say about human beings? And what does all of that say to you that you’re to be about?
“Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Jesus has already seen the sun set for the last time. Within about fifteen hours his limbs would be stretched out on the cross. Within twenty-four hours he would be both dead and buried. And he knew it. Yet the extraordinary thing is that he was thinking of his mission as still future, not past.
He was a comparatively young man, almost certainly between thirty and thirty-five years of age. He had lived barely half the allotted span of human life. He was still at the height of his powers. At his age most people have their best years ahead of them. Mohammed lived until he was sixty, Socrates until he was seventy, and Plato and the Buddha were over eighty when they died. If death threatens to cut a person’s life short, a sense of frustration plunges him or her into gloom. But not Jesus, for this simple reason: he did not regard the death he was about to die as bringing his mission to an untimely end, but as actually necessary to accomplish it. It was only seconds before he died (and not till that moment) that he would be able to shout, “Finished!”
So then, although it was his last evening, and although he had but a few more hours to live, Jesus was not looking back at a mission he had completed, still less that he had failed; he was still looking forward to a mission which he was about to fulfill. The mission of a lifetime of thirty to thirty-five years was about to be accomplished in its last twenty-four hours, indeed, its last six. (John R.W. Stott, The Cross of Christ, pp.66-67)