February 20, 2017
Last year we had a strong emphasis on reading through the Bible along with Pastor J.D. preaching through the Whole Story series. I hope you joined us on our journey through the Scriptures! Whether or not you made it all the way through, I want to encourage you to take up the Bible reading plan again this year. I’d like to give you a couple reasons for doing this along with a recommendation or two so that you’ll get as much as possible out of your time in the Scriptures.
The Bible says in 2 Peter 1:20-21, “Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (ESV). This means that the Scriptures are words from God himself. The Bible is God’s message to us; it is where we learn who we are, who God is, what he has done, and his purposes and plans for the world. It’s where we learn how we fit into his world and our reason for being! Job says he “treasured the words of [God’s] mouth more than my portion of food” (Job 23:12). Like we need to eat every day, we need to hear from God every day as well, so I encourage you to make Scripture intake a daily event.
It is also important to remember that the very words and the way they are put together in the text is inspired: Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” So then, as we read, we should be asking these important questions:
- What is the author highlighting here?
- Who are the main characters?
- What things does the author bring to the forefront, and what things get pushed to the background?
- What does this teach me about God and who he is? What does this teach me about myself?
- What does this tell me about how I should relate to God?
I know that these are not always easy questions to answer regarding a particular passage, but I hope they will guide your thoughts as you engage the Scriptures.
Finally, read prayerfully and attentively. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you really see and understand his Word and to use it to transform you more and more into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). One of the exciting things that happened to me this past year was to see the connections between biblical books more and more. When we read large chunks of Scripture in a fairly short time, we can more easily see these connections.
For example, God tells Israel in Deuteronomy 30:3 that he will “restore [their] fortunes” after they have gone into exile due to their idolatry; this will happen way in the future when he makes a new covenant with them (30:6). Jeremiah picks up on this and repeats the restoration language in Jeremiah 31:23—you might recognize this as the same chapter where he tells us again about the New Covenant (31:31-34). What’s more is that this same restoration language shows up multiple times in Jeremiah, not only about Israel but also about Moab (48:47), Ammon (49:6), and Elam (49:39). Seeing that God already told us way back in Jeremiah that the New Covenant would be not only for restoring his historic people but that it would also be a blessing to the nations inspires me to worship him for what he has done through Christ!
I encourage you to take up the Word of God this year—maybe for the first time—read it, and allow God to show you things about him you’ve never seen before. You can find the Summit reading plan for 2017 here. We have created a new Genre Plan that will take you through similar types of writing in the Bible (historical narrative, prophecy, poetry, etc.) and mixes in Old and New Testament during the year rather than reading straight through as we did in 2016.
By Doug Hilliard