It is COLD!
What with the polar vortex and arctic blasts, most of us will be glad January is over. But February is still a winter month, and we must be ready for more chilliness. But I trust and pray that your heart is not frozen as you enter this second month of the year of our Lord, 2014. Instead, I hope that as you continue to read God’s Word every day your hearts are set on fire! If you are following the reading guide then you have read the first book of the Old Testament and the first of the New and are halfway through Exodus. Additionally, as we make our way through The Bible Overview, we have seen God’s rule established through creation and covenant, although rejected at the fall and constantly evidenced in sin and rebellion. But God is merciful as well as just; His unfailing love initiates the perfect plan of redemption and His gracious power transforms hearts and lives. Praise God for His enduring faithfulness!
This February, may the celebration of Valentine’s Day remind us to see God’s great love for undeserving sinners like us and long for more of His blessing in our lives. Let us trace the hand of love that saves sinners as we read the Bible, seeing the Lord’s promises made and kept in Exodus and Leviticus, Mark and Luke. God has done this great work of
salvation! As the Apostle John writes in his first letter, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” And, “We love because he first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:9, 19 ESV).
Perhaps you are struggling to keep up with the daily reading; rather than your heart being “strangely warmed” (as John Wesley’s was at his conversion) when you read the Bible, it feels more like the duty of taking daily medicine that you know is good for you but isn’t really all that pleasant. Or maybe getting through a particular book is difficult, like eating shredded wheat without milk or anything to drink! Andy Neselli recently offered in a Desiring God blog post (1/24/14) Bible reading encouragement and a couple suggestions that I would like to pass along to you. (1) Listen to audio-Bibles. You will be surprised how engaged you become, especially in the historical books or gospel narratives. If you don’t own one al-ready let me know, or check out a free version on the internet at “Faith Comes By Hearing”. (2) Read books of the Bi-ble in one sitting. Don’t give up if you’ve fallen behind, you can take a chunk of any day and catch back up pretty quickly. For example, the Gospel of Mark would take only about an hour and a half (that’s about two quarters of an average football game). Another idea is if you have several Bibles in your home, you may want to read a different version, say the English Standard Version instead of the NIV, or the New King James Version or New Living Translation. Keep reading!
As February is also loved because we get a long weekend to celebrate President’s Day, let me offer you some final encouragement from three early presidents.
I speak as a man of the world to men of the world, and I say to you, Search the Scriptures! The Bible is the book of all others, to be read at all ages, and in all conditions of human life.
– John Quincy Adams*
I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this book.
– Abraham Lincoln*
Increase my faith in the sweet promises of the Gospel. Give me repentance from dead works. Pardon my wanderings, and direct my thoughts unto thyself, the God of my salvation. Teach me how to live in thy fear, labor in thy service, and ever to run in the ways of thy commandments. Make me always watchful over my hearts, that neither the terrors of conscience, the loathing of holy duties, the love of sin, nor an un-willingness to depart this life, may cast me into a spiritual slumber. But daily frame me more and more into the likeness of thy son Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life. Bless my family, friends and kindred, unite us all in praising and glorifying thee in all our works begun, continued, and ended, when we shall come to make our last account before thee blessed Saviour. – a prayer of George Washington*.
May you have a blessed month,
* The Presidential prayer quotes are taken from Praying with the Presidents: Our Nation’s Legacy of Prayer by Ron Dicianni (Strang Communications Com-pany, 2004)