It’s been at least three years since a dear friend loaned me a copy of the Life Application Study Bible. I’ve read the Bible through maybe three times in the course of my life, but never with the sense of adventure that I have read this version.
One of my New Year’s resolutions in 2013 was to again read the entire Bible. I clutched my little daily guide in my hands and began the undertaking, but this time, I refused to hold myself to that one year time limit. What difference would it make if I read the text through in one year or if it took me two, or even three? Freeing myself of that restriction turned a daily obligation into an exciting adventure.
Truth be told, my past reading of the Bible found me approaching the Old Testament with the enthusiasm of a tedious chore. Plodding through all those names I could not begin to pronounce, deciphering the ancient laws, and trying to keep the lineage of major characters straight held about as much excitement for me as shopping for a new mop. I viewed the readings as a necessity, but certainly not inspiring!
I’m sure a major part of the anticipation for those encounters with the Word this time stemmed from the wonderful, detailed footnotes and other reader friendly aides provided in the Life Application Bible. They clarified the meaning of events within the context of the times and brought the characters to life. They also served to explain the meaning of the messages delivered through the stories and prophets then to their significance in modern day society.
It’s amazing how God prepares and opens our hearts to receive different aspects of His word according to the seasons in our lives. In the past, when I read the Bible, I sought evidence of God’s love, His promises, His grace. I guess I must be secure in those elements at this stage in my life, because this time, the passages that touched my heart the most were the accounts of obedience.
And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey
the voice of the Lord your God.
– Deut 28:2 (RSV)
Obedience is not easy. It’s difficult enough to follow the Golden Rule, let alone the Ten Commandments. It’s a struggle we all face daily. Imagine the tests of obedience our Old Testament heroes faced.
Abraham went so far as to bind his beloved son, Isaac, to an altar of sacrifice in obedience to God’s command. God did not fail Abraham, sparing Isaac’s life and supplying a ram at the last moment
Daniel interpreted King Nebuchadnezzar‘s dream in the face of uncertainty as to how the king would respond to the distressing news of the future. Daniel received honors, gifts, and an esteemed position in the kingdom for his obedience.
Nehemiah, in his quest to rebuild the ruined wall of Jerusalem encountered resistance and hostility. He remained obedient and persevered against the odds to completed the monumental project.
When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee,
even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God,
and shalt be obedient unto his voice;
– Deut 4:30 (RSV)
Obedience is a lesson I’m still learning to master. It’s so easy to give in to worry, fear, doubt, and discouragement when adversity makes the path of life difficult to navigate. Yet, if I would follow the scriptures and turn to the Lord, listen for His voice and obey it, my distress would dissipate and I would bask in the bright sunshine of God’s peace.
My journey through the word of God is not complete as yet. I planned on two years, but I’m approaching the end of my third. Today, I passed a milestone, for tomorrow my reading takes me out of the Old Testament and into the New.
God opened my eyes to so many lessons in obedience over the past several months. I’m excited to see how He will speak to my heart through His word in the remaining weeks.
What does God speak to your heart through His word?