Bible in One Year

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April 13 Day 103

What is God Like?

A six-year-old girl was drawing a picture one day. Her teacher said, ‘What are you drawing?’ The little girl answered, ‘I am drawing a picture of God.’ The teacher was surprised and said, ‘But nobody knows what God looks like!’ The little girl carried on drawing and replied, ‘They will in a minute.’

One of the advantages of reading through the Bible in a year is that we get a rounded picture of the nature and character of God, and a greater understanding of what God is like.

April 12 Day 102

It's a Party!

One day, I received a message that the Queen of England had invited me to lunch. At first, I thought it was a practical joke. But it wasn’t. I turned up at Buckingham Palace on my bicycle, which an amused policeman looked after for me. I sat next to the Queen as we ate some amazing food. Then she turned and began to talk to me as the ‘Parfait de Rhubarbe et Chocolat Blanc’ arrived.

It looked delicious. But I did not want to talk with my mouth full – nor did I want to seem rude by cutting into it while the Queen was speaking to me. Eventually she asked me whether I did not like the food. ‘No, no, no,’ I said, ‘I love it’ (as I quickly began to eat). I did not say it to her, but the real reason I had not eaten was that I was overwhelmed by the privilege of being invited to lunch with the Queen of England.

Jesus likens the kingdom of God to a great party with the King, one to which we are all invited. It is an even greater privilege than lunch with the Queen of England, and it is extraordinary that anyone would refuse this invitation.

April 11 Day 101

Eight Things That Really Matter to God

My mother and father were great parents. They had strong values. My sister and I were left in no doubt about what mattered to them.

What mattered most to my father was honesty. I remember how my father used to say, ‘I expect to be believed.’ He regarded honesty as the highest possible value and sometimes went to absurd lengths to retain that standard.

On one occasion, when they were engaged, but not yet married, he and my mother got on the wrong bus. The bus conductor refused to accept any money as they had only travelled a few yards. My father was unhappy to have been unable to pay what he felt he owed. He sent the money for the fare to the bus company. They sent it back. This resulted in a long correspondence, which my mother found hard to understand (she joked that she almost broke off the engagement).

I remember, in my childhood, many similar incidents. My father may have been a little extreme, but my sister and I were in no doubt about what mattered to him: honesty. In our passages today, we see some of the things that really matter to God.

April 10 Day 100

Seven Ways to Grow in Wisdom

Lawrence of Arabia is one of the most successful films of all time. Much of the film is drawn from T.E. Lawrence’s own account of his time in Arabia. He was a British archaeological scholar, military strategist (colonel by the age of thirty), best known for his activities in the Middle East during World War I. Lawrence explores the theme of wisdom in his memoirs, written in 1926, with the title, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

Presumably, Lawrence had in mind today’s passage, ‘Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars’ (Proverbs 9:1). In Scripture, the number seven is often used to represent completion or perfection. In the book of Proverbs, the teaching of Jesus and the Bible in general, we find many ways to acquire and grow in wisdom. Seven of these can be seen in today’s passages.

April 9 Day 99

See His Goodness

When we were children, my sister and I went on a picnic with our parents. The two of us were playing on what we all assumed was a disused railway track. Suddenly my mother shouted, ‘Jump! Get off the track!’ She had seen an express train coming down the track. Thankfully, we didn’t shout back, ‘Don’t threaten us. You can’t scare us.’ If we had done, I would not be in a position to write this now. We both jumped off the track.

The command arose out of a mother’s love for her children. God’s commands arise out of his goodness and his love for you. They are given for ‘your own good’ (Deuteronomy 10:13). See his goodness. The warnings of Jesus about the coming judgment and how to be ready for it come out of his love for you. In all the passages for today we see that obedience is the way to experience his goodness and be a magnet for his blessing.

April 8 Day 98

How to Stop Worrying

I can’t even remember his name and I didn’t think much of his talk. We were both eighteen years of age. He had just joined the army. As he stood up to give the talk he produced his army boots as a visual aid. He called one of the boots ‘trust’ and the other one ‘obey’. He described them as the left and right boot of the Christian life. He only spoke for seven minutes, but his illustration hit home and I have never forgotten it.

Trust’ and ‘obey’ are, as he said, a very good summary of the Christian life. We see in the passages for today that they are the answer to trials, temptation, worry, anxiety, fear, failure and all the other struggles of life. In particular, Jesus shows us how to stop worrying and start living.

April 7 Day 97

Love from the Inside Out

Celine, a young woman who came on Alpha because of what she described as her ‘spiritual search’, wrote, ‘I am not entirely sure what happened! Over the course I have grown more and more thirsty for God’s presence like when on a hot, dry summer’s day one gets a sip of cold fresh water, just the right temperature, one wants to drink and drink, and one can never get enough.

‘I am now constantly skipping and laughing and wanting to tell everyone how amazing God is… plus I seem to love everybody! I was seeking to forgive someone, but just seemed to grow more and more bitter and resentful, until I came on Alpha… It’s gone, I have totally forgiven that person and love them too!’

She says that she is now ‘passionately in love with Christ!’ Her inner thirst is being satisfied. She has a new inner light and a new inner love.

April 6 Day 96

Press Through

‘Can you see anything?’ his assistant asked as Carter’s eyes adjusted to the semi-darkness. Carter could see well enough, but he had difficulty speaking because of the dazzling array of treasure spread out before him.

For more than two thousand years, tourists, grave robbers and archaeologists had searched for the burial places of Egypt’s Pharaohs. Armed with only a few scraps of evidence, British archaeologist Howard Carter’s search, after many years, seemed doomed to failure.

But, Carter pressed through and finally unlocked an ancient Egyptian tomb. No one in the modern world had ever seen anything like it. The king’s embalmed body lay within a nest of three coffins, the inner one of solid gold. On the king’s head was a magnificent golden portrait mask and numerous pieces of jewellery lay on the body and in its wrappings.

Other rooms were crammed with statues, a chariot, weapons, chests, vases, daggers, jewels and a throne. It was the priceless tomb and treasure of King Tutankhamun, who reigned from 1352 to 1343 BC. It was 3265 years later, on 26 November 1922, that Carter made this discovery.

Howard Carter made the world’s most exciting archaeological find because he did not give up seeking. He pressed through. He persevered. A river cuts through rock not because of its power but because of its persistence.

God loves you. God does not force himself upon you, but he promises to reveal himself to you if you persistently seek him.

April 5 Day 95

One Thing is Needed

I first encountered Jesus in a personal way in 1974. Soon afterwards I heard a talk and, all these years later, I still remember it. It was given by an eighty-year-old man. The title was, ‘The Five “One Things”’. His talk highlighted five significant occurrences of the expression ‘one thing’ in the Bible (Psalm 27:4; Mark 10:21; Luke 10:42; John 9:25; Philippians 3:13). Each one speaks about our priorities. One of those five occurrences is in our New Testament passage for today (Luke 10:42).

I have great empathy with Martha. Jesus said to her, ‘You are worried and upset about many things’ (v.41). There are so many things in life, but Jesus says, ‘only one thing is needed’ (v.42). It was Mary who had her priorities right.

April 4 Day 94

No Blessing Goes Uncontested

‘No blessing goes uncontested’ is one of Bishop Sandy Millar’s many original aphorisms, with which he would encourage us all. During his time as vicar of HTB he taught us not to be discouraged by the difficulties we faced because, as he liked to reassure us, ‘No blessing goes uncontested.’

God will bless you in amazing and wonderful ways. In the passages for today we read about the promise, the extent and the privilege of God’s blessing.

However, it was true of the people of God in the Old Testament and of the disciples of Jesus, and it will also be true in your life that ‘No blessing goes uncontested.’