Bible in One Year

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February 20 Day 51

How to Meet with God

In 1949, one of the greatest revivals in the history of the United Kingdom took place in the Hebrides. Duncan Campbell, the preacher at the centre of the revival, later described how it began.

Seven men and two women had decided to pray earnestly for revival. One night, at a prayer meeting held in a barn, a young man took his Bible and read from Psalm 24 (the psalm for today): ‘Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart’ (vv.3–4a).

He shut his Bible and said, ‘It seems to me just so much sentimental humbug to be praying as we are praying, to be waiting as we are waiting here, if we ourselves are not rightly related to God.’ He asked God to reveal if his own hands were clean and his own heart was pure.

That night God met with them in a powerful way. As they waited on God ‘his awesome presence swept the barn’. They came to understand that revival is always related to holiness. A power was let loose that shook the parish from centre to circumference.

‘Three men were lying on the straw having fallen under the power of God. They were lifted out of the ordinary into the extraordinary. They knew that God had visited them and neither they nor their parish could ever be the same again.’

Four miles away, two sisters aged eighty-two and eighty-four had a vision of God. They saw the churches crowded and the youth and the community flocking into the churches. They had ‘a glorious assurance that God was coming in revival power’.

Duncan Campbell was invited to come and speak to them. When he arrived in the parish church, it was packed out with hundreds waiting outside. No one could explain where they had come from. Within ten minutes of the service starting, men and woman were crying out to God. They were meeting with God in all his holiness.

There was such a sense of the presence of God on the island that a businessman visiting said, ‘The moment I stepped ashore I was suddenly conscious of the presence of God.’ God was meeting with his people.

How do you and I meet with God?

February 19 Day 50

God Loves Me

High on the moors in the Welsh highlands, two ministers met a young shepherd boy who had impaired hearing and was illiterate. They explained that Jesus wanted to be his shepherd, who would always look after him as he, the boy, looked after his sheep. They taught him to repeat the words, ‘The Lord is my shepherd’ (Psalm 23:1), using the fingers and thumb of his right hand to help him remember, starting with his thumb and then a finger for each word. They told him to pause at the fourth word ‘my’, and remember, ‘this psalm was meant for me’.

Some years later, one of them was passing through that same village and asked after the shepherd boy. The previous winter there had been terrible storms and the boy had died on the hills, buried in a snowdrift. The villager who was telling the story said, ‘There was one thing, however, that we didn’t understand. When his body was discovered he was holding the fourth finger of his right hand.’

The story illustrates the nature of God’s personal love for each one of us.

Many people today think of God as some great impersonal force. However, the God of the Bible is very different. His relationship with us is personal. St Paul wrote, ‘The Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20). He is ‘My God’ (Philippians 4:19). God loves me.

February 18 Day 49

Your Love Letter

Thankfully, there have been very few times since our relationship began that I have been apart from my wife Pippa. However, before we were married, there was a period of three weeks when I was away. In those days, without email or mobile phones, our only way of communication was by letter.

I wrote every day. She wrote every day. I remember so well the feeling of intense excitement and joy when I saw the handwriting on the envelope and knew that a letter from Pippa was inside.

I would quickly take the letter and go off to a quiet place by myself to study it! The actual letter wasn’t valuable, but the fact that it was written by the person I love made it so precious to me.

The Bible is a love letter from God to you. What makes the Bible so exciting is not the book itself, but the fact that through it we encounter the person we love. The whole Bible is about Jesus. The New Testament is obviously about Jesus. However, Jesus said of the Scriptures that were available in his lifetime (that is, the Old Testament): ‘These are the very Scriptures that testify about me’ (John 5:39).

February 17 Day 48

Sharpen Your Conscience

Jesus asks the question in today’s passage, ‘Which is lawful… to do good or to do evil...?’ (Mark 3:4).

I used to be an atheist. I believed that our bodies and minds and the circumstances into which we were born determined all our actions. Logically, it seemed to me, if there is no God there is no absolute basis for morality. Therefore, following this logic, there is no absolute ‘good’ or ‘evil’.

Yet, deep down, I knew that there was such a thing as ‘good’ and ‘evil’. Even though I did not believe in God, I used those words. However, it was not until I encountered Jesus that I understood that there is a God who has created a moral universe. In the Scriptures, and in particular in the person of Jesus Christ, the nature of good and evil are revealed.

God has given us a conscience so that we know that some things are ‘good’ and others are ‘evil’. But our consciences can be dulled and they need to be sharpened by objective truth.

February 16 Day 47

Put First Things First

Shortly after we were married, Pippa and I went to a conference about marriage. One of the sessions I will never forget was about priorities. We were given five cards – each with a word on it: ‘work’, ‘God’, ‘ministry’, ‘husband/wife’ and ‘children’. We were asked to rank these in order of priority. With hindsight, I can see I got them in completely the wrong order.

I put ‘God’ first (at least I got that one right – but it was fairly obvious!), followed by ministry, wife, work, and, finally, children (we didn’t have any children at that stage so they didn’t seem very important!).

As the leaders of the conference took us through these priorities, it became clear to me that my order should be: first of all God, then my wife (my primary calling), our children, my job (my primary ministry), and finally my ministry – which, though obviously very important, should not be allowed to displace the primary responsibilities of my life. As the philosopher Goethe put it, ‘Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.’

Put first things first. The things which matter most to God should take first place in our lives.

February 15 Day 46

The Highs and Lows of Life

As I look back on the past forty-five years as a Christian, there have been times of great spiritual highs – experiences of the Holy Spirit, God’s love, the joy of seeing people encounter Jesus for the first time, amazing answers to prayer and seeing the kingdom of God advancing. On the other hand, there have also been spiritual lows – desert experiences, bereavements, disappointments, failures, temptations, opposition, health issues and exhaustion. In the passages for today we see how spiritual highs and lows are closely connected.

February 14 Day 45

The Most Important Question in the World

The brilliant professor of philosophy at London University, C.E.M. Joad, was not a Christian. He was asked on a radio programme, ‘If you could meet any person from the past and ask them just one question, whom would you meet and what question would you ask?’

Professor Joad answered without hesitation: ‘I would meet Jesus Christ and ask him the most important question in the world – “Did you or did you not rise from the dead?”’

There came a day in Professor Joad’s life when he assessed the evidence, encountered Jesus himself and wrote a book called, Recovery of Belief. If Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, this changes everything.

When the New Testament writers speak of God’s love they point to the cross. When they speak of God’s power they point to the resurrection. God’s ‘incomparably great power’ was ‘exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead’ (Ephesians 1:19–20). The risen Jesus says to his disciples, ‘All authority (all power to rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to me’ (Matthew 28:18, AMP).

The resurrection means that the risen Jesus is present with you now. Jesus continues, ‘I am with you always’ (v.20).

The result of the resurrection is not only his power and his presence but also his provision.

February 13 Day 44

God Works for Your Good

Lord Radstock was staying in a hotel in Norway in the mid-nineteenth century. He heard a little child playing the piano downstairs in the hallway. She was making a terrible noise: ‘Plink... plonk... plink...’. It was driving him mad! A man came and sat beside her and began playing alongside her, filling in the gaps. The result was the most beautiful music. He later discovered that the man playing alongside was the girl’s father, Alexander Borodin, composer of the opera Prince Igor.

God calls you into a relationship that involves cooperation with him. The Christian faith is primarily about what has been done for you by God in Christ. However, we are not mere spectators. You are called to respond. God involves you in his plans. God comes and sits alongside you and ‘in all things... works for the good’ (Romans 8:28). He takes our ‘plink… plonk... plink...’ and makes something beautiful out of our lives.

February 12 Day 43

He Saved You

On 13 January 1982, Air Florida Flight 90 taking off from Washington, DC, crashed into the Potomac River. It was winter and the river was full of ice. The crash happened near a bridge going over the river. The TV cameras could see everything. Millions of viewers, sitting in their living rooms, watched as a helicopter overhead let down a life-belt on a line to a man struggling in the water. He grabbed the line, swam to another survivor just by him, clipped the woman in and they hoisted her up to safety. The helicopter let down the line again, and again the man did the same thing. He swam to someone else, and rescued them. He saved others, before finally, exhausted, he himself drowned.

Why did this man not save himself? The answer is that he was out to save others. In an even more amazing way, Jesus did not save himself because he was out to save you and me.

Today, focus your thoughts on Jesus, the Saviour of the world, and meditate on how he saved you.

February 11 Day 42


Steve McQueen’s film Twelve Years a Slave is based on the memoirs of Solomon Northup, born free in New York state but kidnapped in Washington DC in 1841, sold into slavery and kept in bondage for twelve years in Louisiana. He describes at length the horrors of slavery on the cotton and sugar plantations.

Eventually, in 1853, he was rescued from slavery and reunited with his family. He wrote, ‘They embraced me, and with tears flowing down their cheeks, hung upon my neck. But I draw a veil over a scene that can better be imagined than described... I have been restored to happiness and liberty.’

Slavery, in any form, is a horrific evil. Freedom is a wonderful blessing.

Moses is the liberator of God’s people in the Old Testament. He foreshadows Jesus – the supreme liberator. As Moses set God’s people free from slavery, so Jesus sets you free from slavery to sin.

‘Freedom’ is probably the best contemporary word to define what the Bible means by ‘salvation’. The whole Bible could be summed up as the ‘history of salvation’. It is the story of God’s desire and purpose to free his people. You are set free.