Bible in One Year

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March 31 Day 90

How to Overcome Your Fears

Millennials (those born between 1981 and 2000) are sometimes known as ‘generation fear’. In one of her most popular songs, Lily Allen sings about ‘being taken over by the fear’.

‘Fear’ carries two meanings in the Bible – one healthy, one unhealthy. In the good sense of the word, it is usually used in the context of respect for God and sometimes of respect for people (especially those in authority). 

In the bad sense, it means to be frightened. We are supposed to fear God (in the good sense) and not be frightened of anyone or anything else. Many people today live with the opposite. They do not fear God but their lives are full of the wrong kinds of fear. 

How can you overcome your fears?

March 30 Day 89

A Hundredfold Return

He was brought up on one of the roughest estates in Manchester. His father was an alcoholic. He left school at fifteen. He ran away from home. He lived on the streets. He joined a gang. He got involved in crime and ended up in prison. When he came out, he joined the army. He went through two divorces. 

In 1994, he walked into our church and did Alpha. He encountered Jesus and was filled with the Holy Spirit. He started visiting prisoners. He joined the HTB staff team to head up the work in prisons. He started an organisation to care for ex-offenders. He set up a homeless project. He started a course to help those with addictions and courses to help those struggling with depression and debt.

Under his leadership, Alpha for Prisons has spread through the prisons in the UK and seventy-six countries around the world. Thousands have come to faith in Jesus Christ. Hundreds of men and women have been placed in churches through the ministry of Caring for Ex-Offenders.

Paul Cowley is an example of someone who was the good soil on which the seed fell. He has a noble and good heart. He heard the word, retained it and by persevering has produced a crop hundreds of times more than was sown (Luke 8:8,15). He encountered Jesus as his Saviour, Sower and Shepherd. 

March 29 Day 88

How to Become Wise

Oprah Winfrey says, ‘Follow your instincts. That’s where true wisdom manifests itself.’ In other words, wisdom comes from within and is a kind of intuition. Since you are created in the image of God, there is truth in this. However, as we see in today’s passages, true wisdom comes from God and it is supremely acquired through your relationship with him. As we have seen, knowledge is horizontal. But wisdom is vertical. It comes down from above. You will grow in wisdom as you learn, reflect and live in relationship with God.

We all desperately need wisdom. In the Old Testament there are several books of ‘Wisdom’: Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs. In addition, sprinkled throughout the Bible are various writings which might loosely be described as ‘Wisdom Literature’, dealing with such diverse areas as the power of the tongue, the blessings of faithfulness, the dangers of adultery, the hazards of strong drink, the inequalities of life, the sufferings of the righteous, the skill of leadership and the art of parenting. 

This wisdom is a kind of sanctified common sense. It leads to greater self-understanding. It gives you the ability to cope in life and to steer through and master its challenges. It is the sort of legacy good parents want to hand on to their children. Ultimately, wisdom is found in Jesus Christ, who is the ‘wisdom of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:24). 

March 28 Day 87

In the Day of Trouble

Ajay Gohil was brought up as a Hindu and worked for the family business in a newsagent in North London. At the age of twenty-one he contracted erythrodermic psoriasis, a chronic skin disease. His weight dropped from 11.5 stone (73kg) to 7.5 stone (47.6kg). The disease was all over his body from head to toe. He lost all his friends. His wife and son left him. He wanted to die. 

As Ajay lay dying in hospital he cried out to God. He looked in his locker and found a Bible there. He opened it at Psalm 38 – the psalm for today. Each and every verse seemed relevant to him. He prayed for God to heal him. He fell into a deep sleep. By the next morning he was totally healed. His skin was new like a baby’s and his life was turned around. He was reunited with his son. I interviewed him in one of the services at HTB. He said, ‘Every day I live for Jesus.’

Life is not all plain sailing. We will all face troubles. Whatever you are facing today, God is able to rescue you. In the passages for today we see examples of troubles – traps, tests and temptations – and how to handle them.

March 27 Day 86

Ten Top Tips for God's Messengers

Billy Graham died on 21 February 2018 at the age of ninety-nine. As a messenger of God, he had planned his own funeral very carefully to be a call for people to put their faith in Jesus.

He had said beforehand, ‘Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.’ 

In 1934, at the age of sixteen, he’d heard God’s call and became a faithful messenger of the gospel. He spoke about Jesus to over 210 million people in person and to almost half the population of the world on TV or radio. He was determined to make the most of every opportunity, including his own funeral, to pass on God’s message to the world.

My messenger’ is the way John the Baptist is described by God (Luke 7:27). You too can be God’s messenger. Jesus speaks of ‘the message about the kingdom’ (Matthew 13:19). In the New Testament, ‘the message’ is a synonym for ‘the gospel’ (see Acts 2:41; 4:4; 10:44 and so on). Our task is both to hear this message and to declare it to others (1 John 1:5).

March 26 Day 85

The Fullness of the Blessing

Mother Teresa once gave an interview to Hello! magazine. She was asked the question, ‘Is it only the affluent who give?’

She replied, ‘No, even the poorest of the poor give. The other day a very poor beggar came up to me and said, “Everyone gives to you and I also want to give you twenty paisa” – which is about two pence. I thought to myself, what do I do? If I take it he won’t have anything to eat, but if I don’t take it I would hurt him so much. So I took, and he was so happy because he had given to Mother Teresa of Calcutta to help the poor. Giving cleans the heart and helps you get closer to God. You get so much back in return.’

Generosity is not just a nice character trait that people have. It is right at the heart of what our faith is all about. C.S. Lewis defined Christianity as ‘a kind of giving’. God has poured out his generosity to you in Jesus (John 3:16), and you are called to respond in faith and generosity to others. Each of the passages today is about blessings and curses. The key to the fullness of the blessing is generosity – ‘the righteous give generously’ (Psalm 37:21). 

March 25 Day 84

Seven Titles of Jesus

Prince Charles has many titles. He is the Heir Apparent to the Crown, His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, Knight of the Garter, Duke of Cornwall, Colonel in Chief of the Royal Regiment of Wales, Duke of Rothesay, Knight of the Thistle, Rear Admiral, Grand Master of the Order of Bath, Earl of Chester, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.

Titles are attached to people by virtue of rank, office or attainment. In the Bible, Jesus is given far more titles than a royal prince. In fact, there are well over a hundred titles ascribed to Jesus.

The whole Bible revolves around Jesus (John 5:39). Seven titles of Jesus emerge from the passages for today and each reveal something distinct about Jesus. They help you to see what it means to put Jesus in the centre of your life.

March 24 Day 83

God Wants to Amaze You

‘The Eagle has landed,’ said Neil Armstrong. President Nixon, watching the events on television, described it as ‘one of the greatest moments of our time’. The Pope greeted the news by exclaiming, ‘Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to men of good will!’

At 3:56 am on 20 July 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped off the ladder from the Eagle and onto the moon’s surface. ‘That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,’ he said, as he became the first man to walk on the moon.

Due to the recent invention of television, this remarkable event was the first of such historic significance to be seen so widely and known so immediately. The whole world watched with awe and amazement.

James Irwin, another astronaut who walked on the moon, said, ‘Jesus walking on the earth is more important than man walking on the moon.’ When people saw what Jesus did, their response was awe and amazement: ‘Everyone was amazed… They were filled with awe’ (Luke 5:26).

March 23 Day 82

Your Hotline to God

In October 1962, there was a standoff between President Kennedy of the United States and Premier Khrushchev of the Soviet Union over planting missiles in Cuba. The Cuban Missile Crisis was probably the closest we have ever been to World War III, but it was averted because communication was established.

In the days before mobile phones and contemporary ways of instant messaging, it was decided to put one red telephone on the desk of the President of the United States, and another on the desk of the Premier of Soviet Russia. The communication link was called the ‘hotline’. If at any time there was a danger of misunderstanding they could simply lift up the phone and communicate.

Communication is vital to all relationships. Setting aside time to build and nurture communication is essential. Jesus has given you a ‘hotline’ to God, but it is not just for emergency use – it is to be used all the time.

March 22 Day 81

Always Be Generous

Generosity is a beautiful characteristic in people. We love and admire generosity. My mother used to urge us as children, ‘Always be generous.’

How do you think of God? Do you think of him as a little bit mean or tight-fisted? Or do you think of him as extraordinarily generous?

God’s generosity is seen in the natural world. For example, there are over 25,000 varieties of orchids. The orchid is just one of 270,000 species of flowers. God does not do things by halves. In our galaxy there are over 100 billion stars like our sun. Our galaxy is one of over 100 billion galaxies. It is thought that for every grain of sand there are a million stars. In a throwaway line in Genesis, the writer tells us, ‘He also made the stars’ (Genesis 1:16).

God is extraordinarily, extravagantly generous. David speaks of God’s ‘… river of delights’ (Psalm 36:8b). He ‘gives generously to all’ (James 1:5). If God is so generous to us, we also should ‘always be generous’.