We eagerly wait 11 months to get to our 4 weeks of the Christmas season. Well, let’s be honest, 6+ weeks for those of you who start listening to Christmas music two weeks too early or for those of you who keep your tree and lights up until February! Regardless of your seasonal preferences, time continues to progress and the end of the year winds down.
As 2014 lets the ink dry on the last page, the light of the dawn for 2015 begins to illuminate the dusk of a new year. In this transitory state our minds tend to turn in upon themselves and take a reflective posture. As I get older the admonition of my grandparents and parents that time has wings and gets faster every year gains greater appreciation. It’s not so much that time gets faster, but that we start to appreciate it and realize how little we actually have of it. Time is truly our greatest commodity. On death beds no one wishes they had more money, or spent more time at the office, but they do wish they had just a little more time.
Since my senior year of college I answer 31 questions crafted by Dr. Don Whitney (which you can find here) to help me gain perspective and focus on the upcoming year. I’ve greatly benefited from this practice as I’ve “considered my ways” (Haggai 1:5). I’m able to attack the new year by reflecting on the previous years answers, then crafting new vision and goals. Upon reflection of this years answers I asked myself, “If there were only one question I could ask before the new year what would it be?” As I ruminated on the question an answer came to me that arguably could be the most important question one might ask themselves every year.
The Most Important Question for You to Answer Before 2015
So what was my conclusion? Well, it wouldn’t be fun if I told you right out would it? It’s called creating suspense…
The most important question for you to answer before 2015 is this:
What’s your plan for spending time in the Bible this year?
If you were hoping for something more profound or divine then I hope you are not too disappointed. Yet, I would like to make a case, with two key points, that this question is BY FAR the most important question for you to answer before the clock strikes midnight.
1. Reading the Bible Cultivates a Deeper Relationship with God
First off, the more we read the Bible through the power of the Spirit, we begin to cultivate a deeper relationship with God. As you read the Lord will begin to reveal His character traits, desires, dislikes, and promises he gives to the world. 2 Timothy 3:16 reminds us that all of Scripture is “breathed out by God”, that it is his very breath speaking to people. In John 10:27 Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”. When we read the Bible the sheep hear the voice of their great Shepherd.
One of the best parts of being married is not what I know about my wife, but it’s what I’m discovering about my wife. Every date night with Chels I learn something new about that makes me love her even more. To cultivate deeper knowledge and affections though I must create space to get alone with Chels so I can learn more about her. It’s no different with God. If we don’t spend time with him our relationship will grow stale; however, if we create focused time our knowledge of him will expand and our hearts affections will increase.
2. The Bible Gives You a Solid Foundation for All of Life
No matter what you are experiencing in life the Bible speaks it. If you are joyful, the scripture tells you to turn your joy into worship of God for all good things come from him (James 1:17). So when I’m eating a Chic-Fil-A sandwich, waffle fries with Polynesian dipping sauce (the meal of kings!) and my heart swells with joy, then I’m to worship him! He’s the one that created it! If you are in the midst of suffering the scripture offers encouragement for endurance (2 Tim. 4:1-5) and the redemptive purpose of the trial (Rom. 8:28). Or, if you are anywhere on this spectrum just swept up in the ordinary of day to day life the scripture has insight for that as well (1 Thess. 4:11).
Looking back over this last year, Chels and I wouldn’t have been able to endure unless we were grounded in the word, meditated upon it and had friends speak it over us often. The word gave us roots to withstand the suffering (Ps. 1:3) and for the first time I understood what Jesus meant when he said, “‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4). Daily, God was providing manna to feed the hunger in my soul for his presence through his word.
Practical Next Steps
It’s been said that knowledge isn’t power unless it’s applied, so what are the next steps to answering the question, “What’s your plan for spending time in the Bible this year?” Practically, you need to simply pick a plan and stick to it the best you can.
A quick note for all you perfectionist out there who get stressed about “keeping up” with daily reading plans. One of our pastors posted a pertinent link to a website (which you can read here) that says when we miss days we must give ourselves grace, just skip those chapters and pick back up where the reading plan is at for the day. So for all you who stress because you’re not right on schedule – take a deep breath, give yourself grace, and just skip the chapters you missed, you’ll make them up another time!
Ultimately, we are justified by Jesus’ work on the cross, not how disciplined we can be reading the Bible. We must remember that the Bible is not an end in itself, but it will point us to the ultimate end, which is the presence of God where we will find all joy and pleasures forever more (Ps. 16:11).
Here’s the 2015 and being planted by the streams (Ps. 1:3).