Hanging a new calendar and getting everything in order is like a breath of fresh air. Last year’s stuff is gone and so much to anticipate with a new year.
Notice I did not start with resolutions and that is quite purposeful. I do not like making resolutions because my experience has demonstrated to me that they do not work—or at least I cannot makethem work.
Life inevitably gets in the way of maintaining one’s discipline or schedule or willpower to master a new year’s resolution. As the year begins, there is no way to predict how the year will proceed so that translates into failed resolutions.
Therefore, I confess. I did not make a new year’s resolution. And I do not regret that decision because just 10 days into 2019, any resolve I may have had seems to be suspended.
I admit, I do want to accomplish something that I have not honestly ever done—read all of the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament.
This is my second confession: I have never sat down and read the Bible from Genesis through Revelations. Shocking, isn’t it?
Here I am a cradle Methodist, a lifelong Christian, and even a graduate of the Course of Study in the United Methodist Church, and I have never started with Genesis 1:1 and read straight through the entire Bible.
No excuses. I just have never had the discipline or the drive to proceed through the Bible in that manner. I have read it in all different ways: New Testament, the Four Gospels, the Psalms, Genesis, the Torah, the minor prophets, the Letters of Paul, Revelations, and even through the lectionary (all three years at least two times). Not just once, but repeatedly at all different times in my life.
Another confession: I have a terrible memory. All my life I have failed at memorization—at least beyond short term. This has been a lifelong challenge from grade school throughout my post-graduate work, even.
Therefore, I hesitate to admit that I am going to do my best to follow a reading plan that takes me through the Old Testament coupled with New Testament readings during the calendar year.
This is not a resolution. This is a decision that I feel God expects from each of us who profess to be Christians.
The plan began on January 1. I did not begin trying to read until January 3 so that already put me behind.
This means one more confession: I could just quit, but I decided I have to try a little longer. One week is really not that bad, so I have continued.
As of today, I am only two days behind. It is a struggle, but I want to do this.
All the years I have taught high schoolers about how to learn and how to study and how to set goals, I included many of the principles of Franklin Covey.
One of the guidelines included in that successful program is that one should tell others one’s goals. If others know your goals, then they can encourage you to reach those goals. For me, that means they should also not interrupt my study time in order to accomplish this goal.
As you can tell, I am sharing these thoughts as part of sharing my journey through the Bible. Maybe including some of the thoughts via the blog, readers can provide additional insight and depth into the reading.
Therefore, here are a few notes from the readings I have completed these past 10 days:
Genesis 1-19(so far)
These chapters include not only the story of creation, but also of recreation following the story of Noah and the Great Flood. Familiar narrative, but there are still some surprises for me:
- As terrible as Cain’s murder of his brother Abel, God still invited Cain to “do well” so that he might be accepted; that he “must master it [sin]”.
- Using the Wesley Study Bible, I found this note: “See how early the gospel [referencing Jesus Christ’s ministry, death & resurrection] was preached, and the benefit of it here offered even to one of ‘the chief of sinners’.”
- Geneaology is frequently found in the Bible, and in Genesis 5:24, the lineage reaches Enoch and in this verse it is stated that Enoch walked with God; then he was no more because God took him. The Wesley Study Bible states the phrase “. . . then he was no more. . .” indicates that even though death is inevitable it is not the last word or all.
- The Great Flood is a story of recreation.
- Noah was righteous so God worked through him to preserve his creation.
- Genesis 7:13-16 has interesting phrase describing loading the ark: “. . . and the Lord shut him in.” Not exactly sure why I find this so interesting, but worthy of making note of it.
- The lengthy genealogical lists are difficult to read, but they serve to push through the timeline efficiently. When studying folklore, I was reminded that oral tradition strongly emphasizes reciting the linage accurately and repeatedly, too. The lineage of Noah carries us to Abram/Abraham.
- A few months ago I read a novel based on the Biblical figure Sarah. As I continued reading Genesis 12, I found myself mingling the details of the historical novel with the Biblical story. The story defies our scientific understanding of age and reproduction, but the message is complete faith in God.
- The story of Abraham & Sarah is no different than stories of committed Christians who remain faithful first to God, then to each other. Life is not going to always be easy, but listen for God’s direction and remain faithful to him. I have witnessed couples like this throughout my life. Maintain one’s faith in God, and then all the details of earthly living are manageable.
- The Biblical narrative of Lot is brief in comparison, but in that novel I read it was developed with fictitious details that added interesting twists; but In Genesis 19, the story of Lot again emphasizes the necessity of listening to God and to rely on him. Lot escaped, but his wife looks back at Sodom and is turned into a pillar of salt (Gen. 19:26).
The Old Testament readings are coupled with New Testament Readings. So far the readings are all from Romans. At first I thought that was a peculiar decision, but in the reading it becomes clear why.
- Romans 2: key point is that we are not to judge; only God does the judging.
- Real circumcision is not a physical action it is a matter of the heart (Rom. 2:25-29)
- Rom 3:22-24: “. . . the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are no justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus . . . “
- Rom. 3:28: Paul says, “For we hold that a person is justified by faithapart from works prescribed by the law [the Law of Moses from the Old Testament].”
- Yet Paul goes on to say in v. 31 that we are not to overthrow the law [whether speaking about the Law of Moses or civil law], uphold it.
- Rom. 4 was a bit confusing for me as it goes back to the discussion of circumcision and reconnects to the covenant of the Lord with Abraham that established the practice of circumcision.
- Rom. 5 is subtitled “Results of Justification”and really focuses on a John Wesley principle.
- Rom. 5:1—“. . . we are justified by faith. . .”
- Rom. 5:3—“suffering produces endurance”
- Rom. 5:4—“endurance produces character and character produces hope”
- Rom. 5:5—“and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
- Rom. 5:18-21—[paraphrased] “. . . just as [Adam’s] trespass led to condemnation for all, so [Jesus Christ’s] act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all . . . where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
- Rom. 6:12—“Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. . .”
- Rom. 6:14—“For sin will have no dominion over you since you are not under law [the Law of Moses] but under grace.
- Rom. 6:20-23—“When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. Or the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” –For me, this is a WOW! Statement.
As I continue to read through the year’s plan, I am struggling to comprehend some of the pieces. I am using the Wesley Study Bible this time (NRSV translation) and that helps. Therefore, I will step away for now as I continue to work on my readings. If you want to join me, here are the readings I have done followed by the ones for the next week:
Read to date: Genesis 1-19 and Romans 1-7
To read from now through next week:
- Jan. 8 Gen. 20-22 & Rom. 8:1-12
- Jan. 9 Gen. 23-24 & Rom. 8:22-39
- Jan. 10 Gen. 25-26 & Rom. 9:1-15
- Jan. 11 Gen. 27-28 & Rom. 9:16-33
- Jan. 12 Gen. 29-30 & Rom. 10
- Jan. 13 Gen. 31-32 & Rom. 11:1-18
- Jan. 14 Gen. 33-35 & Rom. 11:19-36
- Jan. 15 Gen. 36-38 & Rom. 12
- Jan. 16 Gen. 39-40 & Rom. 13
May we hear you through the words of scripture. –Amen.