If you think Genesis is a rock band from the 80’s...if you think it was Dr. Doolittle who took two of every kind of animal into a big boat...if you think an epistle is the wife of an apostle, it might be time to read the Bible all the way through! There are many people who are intimidated just thinking about reading the Bible in its entirety. You are not alone. There are strange names, like Jehoshaphat, Nebuchadnezzar, and Methuselah. In fact, there are lists of names like that. There are places that we have never heard of before, many of which do not exist anymore. And places like Sinai, Samaria, Nain, and Gomorrah. At first glance you might think the Bible is just a loose collection of totally unrelated stories. But instead, it is really one big, exciting story, the story of God and His people.
The first words in the Bible are Genesis 1:1, ”In the beginning God...” and we end Revelation with the word AMEN, which means yes, it shall be so. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In Revelation God creates a new heaven and earth. He has gotten rid of the old which is tainted by sin. What happens in between is the story of God. I always picture a big red string running all the way through the Bible. And that red string is the constancy of God...His mercy, love and grace. Even though the Bible is comprised of 66 books it is one gigantic, seamless story.
This is a story for everyone. Our Sunday school kids will be looking at the Bible on their level as will the confirmation students. Because all of us are invited to read, this is a great opportunity to practice Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Moses reminds us that the words of God should be on our hearts. And we should teach them diligently to our kids, grandkids, all young people so they will know God. God wants us to know His story, to know Him. This is a family story because we are all His precious, beloved sons and daughters.
We will be part of the journey with Abraham's family, a man of great faith. God uses Abraham and his wife Sarah to show that anything is possible with Him. We see the story of Ruth. She is not even an Israelite but, in her faithfulness, she becomes the great grandmother of King David. And she is listed in the genealogy of Jesus. There is a very stubborn Jonah who runs in the opposite direction God sends him. Baalam whose donkey speaks is one of my favorite stories. And somehow, since watching Shrek, I always hear Eddie Murphy's voice when the donkey talks! There are prophets who do strange and peculiar things at God's direction. Jesus chooses a very unlikely group of men to be his disciples, including Peter who often speaks and acts before thinking. And there is Paul, whose life in ministry can only be described as an adventure, one that is NOT for the faint of heart.
And yet, the one person God really wants us to meet is His Son. God wants us to take a long look into His eyes and hear and see that what was begun “In the beginning”, with a perfect place and perfect people, will finally be fully realized in the last chapter of the Bible with Gods New Creation...His perfect people, living in a perfect place, with their perfect Lord. The story of scripture connects us with God's people who have gone before us. But we will be at some time those who have gone before others. Our stories are connected with all the other people of faith’s stories.
So, I encourage you to get out your Bible. If you need a new one, we have some. You can access the reading plan here. If you have questions, please let us know. Find a journal or notebook to keep by your Bible to record thoughts, things God reveals to you and questions. It is OK to write in the margins of your Bible. Highlight or underline passages that have touched your life in some way. We have Bible tabs too, so it is easier to find the books of the Bible. I have probably shared this before...it's an age thing! A Bible that is falling apart belongs to someone who isn't. When we spend time in the Word, we encounter the living God. We find courage, peace, guidance, hope, grace and mercy on those pages, plus a whole lot more.
So come on, it's almost time to begin our journey for a lifetime.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W