On May 1st, I began the second of my three times reading through the New Testament in 2008. The first time through, I used the New Living Translation. This time, I chose the wonderful Eugene Peterson paraphrase, The Message. I haven’t used this version since 2004, and I am loving being in it again. For serious study, I go for a more literal translation, but for reading and soaking in the Word, The Message is a wonderful option.
Like these wonderful verses:
[Jesus said,] “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt 11:28-30)
I know that I haven’t posted anything about my Bible reading in a while, but my heart is to encourage believers to get into the Word and feast on it regularly. It is so important. For how else, if we don’t know what God has to say, can we sift out the whispered lies of the enemy?
[Jesus said,] “Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove." (Matt 10:16)
We won’t be cunning as snakes if we are not on the alert, and we will not be on the alert if we don’t study what God has spoken. As Christians, we need the Bread of Life to sustain our spirits just as we need food to sustain our physical lives.
Some while ago, I got a wonderful email from a reader in Sydney, Australia who serves on my prayer team, and I asked her if I could share her words on my blog. I’m thankful that she agreed. It’s a long letter, but I hope you will take the time to read it all the way through because I know it will bless you.
Back in January, after receiving one of your special prayer bulletins, I emailed you for your schedule for reading the New Testament through three times in one year – and you responded, thank you very much.
I thought long and hard prior to January about the way you’ve often mentioned how you read the Bible: through the complete Bible one year, and three times through the NT in the next two years. Also, your themes, that come to you as you prayerfully consider how you can get closer to God that year.
In December last year I decided that if you could do it, so could I. And, unbelievably, like a pebble tossed in a pool, this is having an amazing effect on the people around me. I’m writing to let you know about it, because I’m awestruck by what’s happening.
After much prayer I also asked God for a theme/thought for the year, and – in big bold letters that surely got writ on my forehead, it came back as: STICKABILITY. Okay, that sounds a bit naive, but it totally fits my personality. I need to *stick* at things… like – gee, reading the Bible through in a year! If you want to reinvent the word I guess I can retranslate it as PERSEVERANCE. Not a bad theme at all for my Christian walk. So, I’m praying for stickability. And I think it’s working. How brilliant is that?
As for reading the Bible through in a year, that’s also working, and I’m so so *so* excited about it! I had a copy of a chronological Bible at home that I – yes yes, always meant to read it but, you know, no time, rush rush rush, no stickability, life got in the way, etc etc…
I got the Bible out, dusted it off, and began, January 1st….
I started off a bit patchy with my reading – and missed some days –
once I completely forgot to do it.. that really did not pay as the next
day I was frantically busy and had to do two day’s reading, not one.
But – and thank you again Robin for my theme – I prayed for more
STICKABILITY and it came. Of course, the day I had to read five day’s
worth in one – aah – that was a massive slab of the Bible, and really,
in one normal day I can’t fit that sort of reading in… so yet another
encouragement to continue to apply myself *daily*. I was concerned I
might get lost wallowing in Leviticus, but hey – tomorrow I *start
Joshua*. How good is that!?
One small thing I’m doing is telling as many people as I can about
what I’m reading – and, of course, telling everyone I got the
inspiration from your blog – plus, of course the NT x 3 reading program
from you, too. I figured the more people I tell, the more people will
ask – How are you going? And… the more I might stick to it (there’s
that theme again)! Also, the more people will encourage me. 🙂 And
people are doing exactly that – each week at Bible study and church and
whenever I meet friends, they ask – where are you up to? What’s
happening? How’s it going? Are you on track?
Even more, I am thrilled at the extended results my simple Bible
reading venture has kicked off. Several friends have also decided that
if *I* can read the Bible in a year, so can they! Several others have
decided that they don’t read the Bible enough – that is, daily, and
have passionately re-dedicated themselves to God’s word using some sort
of system like daily Bible reading notes. Every time I talk about it
there is excitement in the air, and a thrill at discovering God’s word
I’m not talking about being a new recruit, either. I’m 52 and have
been a Christian all my life. And – as I admit to everyone – I’ve
*never* read the Bible all the way through until – hopefully – this
year! And a lot of my friends aren’t new Christians either, they are
mature in the faith – and yet this is working on their hearts like
nothing I’ve seen for some time. At first I was really startled, but
now I can plainly see it is God working. And I fall at His feet in
That level of re-dedication and renewed zeal for God’s word is
spreading right in front of my eyes… and all I did was tell them
about what *you do* for your theme, your Bible reading, your devotional
reading – and how I thought something like that might work for me, too.
So God is working through you, Robin. I just wanted to let you know and rejoice with you!
Your sister in Christ,
Oh, how I praise God every time I read this letter. I get goosebumps over the goodness of God. It reminds me yet again that it matters how I live, that it matters what I say and what I do. Even the smallest thing, that I hardly give a thought to, God can use. He has a purpose and He is working in us and through us, and all we need is to be obedient.
And so I will leave you with more words from my morning’s reading in The Message:
[Jesus said,] “We are intimately linked in this harvest work. Anyone who accepts what you do, accepts me, the One who sent you. Anyone who accepts what I do accepts my Father, who sent me. Accepting a messenger of God is as good as being God’s messenger. Accepting someone’s help is as good as giving someone help. This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing.” (Matt 10:40-42)
It’s a large work, but the smallest task can make a difference.
In the grip of His grace,