Tomorrow, January 1st, is a day of promise. To many, it holds the enticing thought of a brand new start, a day to wipe the slate clean, to begin anew.
January 1st could rightly be renamed The Day of Hope.
- We hope to lose weight, get more sleep, eat healthy.
- We hope to be more productive, not procrastinate, get organized.
- We hope to get a better job, earn more money, buy a new house.
But, so much of what we hope for tomorrow will just be wishful thinking.
There’s a different kind of hope that’s not just wishful thinking. It’s a hope centered on Christ, a confidence that what God has promised He’ll bring to pass. It’s the future tense of faith.
How can we have this hope that’s not just wishful thinking? Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” It’s the Word of God that makes faith and hope possible. All of your days in 2016 can be A Day of Hope by reading God’s Word.
Check out these Daily Bible Reading Plans for hope-filled days in 2016.
Christmas is a season of the year when we think about surprises—parents surprising their children, children surprising their parents, friends surprising each other—but God is a God of surprises throughout the year.
God reveals Himself in Scripture as a God who loves surprises. Throughout the Old Testament, God manifests Himself in surprising ways, He chooses surprising people, He acts in surprising circumstances.
God Manifests Himself in Surprising Ways:
- A burning bush
- A whirlwind
- A bunch of dry bones
- A barren womb
God Chooses Surprising People:
- An idol worshiper
- A murderer
- A con man
- A shepherd boy
- A prostitute
God Acts in Surprising Circumstances:
- A Flood
- A Battlefield
- A Famine
- A Murder
In the New Testament, God Himself becomes the surprise. From His birth announcement, His earthly life, His horrible death, and His anticipated return, it’s one surprise after another.
His Birth Announcement Surprised:
- His mother Mary
- His father Joseph
- The shepherds
- King Herod
His Earthly Life Brought Surprising:
His Horrible Death Surprised:
- The Disciples
- The Unbelievers
- The Roman Soldiers
His Anticipated Return Will Surprise:
- The Unprepared
- The Uninformed
- The Unbeliever
How will God surprise you in 2016? It could be a way in the wilderness or a river in the desert. “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19.
God will surprise you. Anticipate it. Look for it. Embrace it.
There are so many ways to read the Bible. You can read it like great literature, read it for academic purposes, read it to understand a culture, read it to gain a sense of morality, or, of course, read it for a myriad of spiritual reasons—to know GOD, to know His Son, Jesus, to know the working of His Spirit.
I’ve discovered the best way to read the Bible is to make it personal, to view the message of God’s Word as personal, and to understand the words as written for me—personally. How’s that for personal?
The Bible itself encourages this method of Bible study. David, speaking in Psalm 16:11, says, “You make known to me the paths of life.” David has a personal relationship with God. While it’s true the Bible has a message for all people, God intends for that message to be understood and received by each individual.
I read through the Bible every year, and I’ve used a variety of Bible Reading Plans to do this. This year, I plan to use a journaling Bible and to concentrate my note-taking on how a passage speaks to me personally, what personal message God intended for me in the verses, and in what way a particular Scripture can deepen my personal relationship with Him.
How personal can it get? Psalm 139 says it all.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you