BOOKS :: 66
GENRE :: Nonfiction/Religion
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”
-2 Timothy 3:16 ESV
I did not think I would ever read the entire Bible and was close to having a panic attack when, about 3 weeks before the end of 2017, I realized that the last 4 books of the Bible I had left to read were some of the longest books in the Old Testament.
While many people advise that you never read the Bible too fast, the sole purpose of me reading through the Bible last year was to get an understanding of the context. I will be reading through scripture a little more slowly this year now that I have an understanding of the background if not the history surrounding the stories.
So… did I not get much out of the Bible simply because I read through it like I would a normal book?
Actually, God still taught me much.
All in all, I’ve come to realize that the Old Testament and New Testament DO compliment one another!
I’ve heard many self-professed believers say they are either old or new testament believers. I’ve seen how many people embrace Grace more readily than they do truth; they genuinely believe that forgiveness and Love is all that’s needed to handle anything. I’ve also seen people more ready to embrace Truth that there is little room for Grace and Mercy, thus making God appear more like an angry grandpa or terrible dictator.
But the kind of “grace and love” I’ve often seen professed believers talking about is one that fails to hold people accountable, a life that is free of obedience to God, and a more passive approach to every day life trials.
When you’ve been abandoned or neglected, assaulted, abused, and treated poorly by self-professed Christians or other people, the all “Grace and Love and forgiveness” approach that is free of accountability, truth, and justice paints God as passive and uncaring.
In reading the Old testament and God’s view towards the treatment of the poor, the oppressed, and of the failure of God’s people to treat those around them as they would want to be treated, I began to appreciate the character of God all the more. Of course, it’s easy to see oneself as a victim when reading scripture and is often challenging to read scripture asking oneself if self has done what God hates. Time and time again, I had to remind myself to ask if I’d been guilty of treating someone in ways I would not want to be treated… which, while not at all exciting, was a humbling experience.
But I’d say the best part about reading scripture was seeing how time and time again God would reiterate that He’ll do what He says He will do. Looking at the context of some of these verses and what He meant by what He said He would do may seem depressing, but to me it offered hope that He does keep His promises… and a glimpse of how severe the consequences of sin truly are.
“I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.” -Isaiah 46:8-11 ESV
“I am the LORD. I have spoken; it shall come to pass; I will do it. I will not go back; I will not spare; I will not relent; according to your ways and your deeds you will be judged, declares the Lord GOD.” -Ezekiel 24:14
“For I am the LORD; I will speak the word that I will speak, and it will be performed. It will no longer be delayed, but in your days, O rebellious house, I will speak the word and perform it, declares the Lord GOD.”
The miracles that are shared in every book of the Bible didn’t fail to amaze me. There’s hope for every tragedy, a promise given, a prophesy foretold, and a Savior who desires to save His people.
My faith in God deepened. I began to understand that His word stands above anyone else’s- pastors, families, friends, well-meaning Christians, strangers, non-believers, and even politicians.
It can be so hard at times to have hope in the midst of chaos and dysfunction… like our world today, but seeing how even the followers of God had bad days, were persecuted, slandered, and shamed even by the most powerful people in their society and, in spite of it all, they pushed on and finished their purpose in life, I felt refreshed, convicted, reaffirmed, encouraged, and challenged.
I have begun to appreciate my walk with Christ more even throughout the trials and errors. It’s challenging to stand up for ones faith now-a-days, and understandably so, but reading about Christ’s sacrifice and His willingness to endure difficulty, death, and hatred at the hand of His own people has encouraged me to start standing up and embracing what I believe in.
2017 was a year filled with personal problems. I battled mental illness that made me act out in ways I hated and knew grieved my God. I began to see my character defects in a new light that made me ask myself how much longer I was going to choose to hold on to them. I was challenged to ask myself if I was going to do things in a certain way because- hey!- everyone else is doing it! Why stand up for the things i believe in? Why do what God tells me to do when other Christians listen to what their families and pastors advice them to do? Why tithe to the church if I can just give money to Christian ministries? Why watch that I do not fall into gossip if it doesn’t seem harmless so long as I don’t gossip to just anyone? Why not hold onto grudges if I can just continue feeding my pride with victimization? Why challenge myself to be patient and loving towards people who gossip and speak unkindly of me when i can just get even? Why not be okay with abortion, pride, same-sex marriages, pornography, little white lies, or making fun of those who are not of the same faith as me?
Because God is the audience I need to strive to live for. He’s the One who I will give an account of my life to. He’s the One who has given me freedom from Sin, forgiveness, unconditional Love, support, and so much more than I could ever imagine. I am not by any means perfect. I have not lived a sin-free life. I have not walked through this earth a saint. God deals with me again and again, at times allowing me to experience consequences for my actions.
I’m not let off the hook simply because i profess to be a Christian. If I sin against my God, He deals with me. If I sin against a friend or a loved one, He deals with me.
I look forward to reading through the Bible again this year. I may not be able to read it completely through the year, but the quality of the teachings I receive through the Holy Spirit I believe will surpass the quantity of the pages/chapters/books I read.
Highly recommend the Bible to everyone. It is a life changing book filled with history, poetry, miracles, and… most importantly… the greatest Love story ever told.
Thanks for reading!