2017 is nearing its end and with that, our journey through the Bible this year ends as well. At the beginning of the year, I had an idea that we should, as a church, read through the Bible together. In our middle/high school Sunday school class, we had been going through a plan by The Bible Project, an amazing non-profit in Portland that was releasing animated overview videos for every book of the Bible. I thought that would be a great thing to help us go through Scripture together. We also started a weekly podcast where I would pull out the passages that stuck out to me during that week’s reading. While I had a good time making that podcast, unfortunately, I also began working on a degree in the fall and the podcast had to be put on hold after 37 episodes.
But, I’ve kept up with my reading, even without doing the podcast. We are in our last week, working through Revelation, finishing up on Christmas Eve. For me, this has been an incredibly fruitful experience, reading through all of Scripture, front-to-back for the first time. I mentioned this last week in my sermon, but the thing that stuck out to me the most when reading was how much God’s grace shows up in the Old Testament. One of the objections you hear from people is that they don’t think God is the same from the Old Testament to the New Testament. They believe He is just the vengeful, spiteful, angry God who smites people left and right. And to be honest, there are some parts where you could think that. But what was fascinating to me is that even though the Israelites basically acted like they wanted nothing to do with God until they absolutely needed Him, God was still there, still ready, still willing to save His people. He made a promise way back and He keeps His promises. So how did your reading go this year? Maybe you weren’t on the same plan we were, but I do hope you were able to get into the Word on a regular basis. If not, there’s a new year coming, and it’s a great time to begin a new reading plan, which we’ll make available soon.
Looking back to my blog in January, I had two goals this year: to read through all of Scripture and deepen my prayer life with God. The first goal will be complete Sunday, but the other goal remains unfulfilled. While I pray every day, I don’t believe I ended up where I wanted at the end of the year. So, for 2018, my personal focus will be on prayer. I want and need to become deeper in my reliance on and conversation with the Lord through prayer.
This has been a great year, one that will see my completion of reading through Scripture in a year, my starting and completing the first two courses for my degree, my preaching more often than ever before, and a successful rethinking of how we structure our Student Ministry. However, I know that next year will be even better as I continue to grow as a follower of Jesus. I pray that you would be able to say the same.