Monday, 27 December 2010

Pursuit of Discernment

The year before last I read through the entire Bible in a year for the first time in my life. Which was really rather pathetic considering I've been a Christian as long as I can remember.

Last year in December I posted about how I was feeling convicted to dig deeper in the Bible and to pursue discernment. Yes, I had read through the Bible, but many days it was simply to be able to say that I had done it. And I wanted to change that. So I started a new blog called The Bible in a Year...and Beyond! because the title captured my vision perfectly - reading through the Bible, yes, but going beyond simply reading it, to studying it, to questioning, to researching, to digging deeper, to pursuing discernment.

I was joined by several other ladies who had felt similarly convicted and together we experienced a year of tremendous growth and insight unlike any year previously. This also was a year where I needed discernment in order to walk through a dark valley alongside a very close friend. Coincidence? I think not!

Because this was such a rich and rewarding experience, and because our need for accountability and motivation has not waned (still human, after all!), we are starting up again and are inviting you to join us!

Last year we did the One Year Chronological Reading Plan. Some parts of the plan I really enjoyed: I loved reading the Psalms as they coincided with the lives of King David and the other Psalmists; it helped to understand some of the books of prophecy better as well to have things in their proper historical perspective. The part of the plan I did not like as much was that it was extremely chronological to the point of flipping between several different books numerous times on certain days.

This year we have decided to do a Chronological plan again. But this one has very little jumping around, and starts in both the Old Testament and the New Testament at the same time - which can be a big pro for those who have found the OT hard to get through. This past year was the first time I, and some other blog participants, have really appreciated the OT and found that we learned so incredibly much - I am very interested to see what new insights we glean this year as we do it again!

So, we decided on this Chronological OT/NT plan. Unfortunately, it still had the 2010 dates it in, so I created a PDF file with the corrected dates and uploaded it to the internet - you can access it here. It contains all the links to the Bible passages, and is printable if you download the file to your computer.

One thing I'd like to mention...
So often we (especially first-borns, perfectionists, etc) tend to have an all or nothing mentality. If I can't do it perfectly, if I can't succeed 100%, if I can't be the best, then I'm just not going to even try. Ladies (or any men that read this!), that's not from the Lord. If you didn't have a regular Bible reading/devotional habit before - then any commitment is better than nothing. You have to start somewhere, and who cares if you start small? So long as you start! Your efforts will be rewarded. You will draw closer to Him. You will reflect Him to those around you. And you will be able to be more discerning. There is no downside here!

So, if you choose to read along with us (or choose a different plan to follow on your own, or whatever you decide to do), and if you fall behind - do not quit! You have a few options: you can read a ton to catch up; you can circle the passages you missed and skip them for now and catch up throughout the year as you have time; you can circle the passages you missed and catch up on them after the year is over; or you can simply miss them; or you can pick a different reading plan that goes through the Bible more slowly. Any of those options are entirely acceptable, the only option that is not a good one is quitting entirely. Do not quit!!

So, why read through the Bible in a year?

Well, it doesn't have to be in a year. But the need to be in the Word daily as a Christian, is really not something that we should consider to be optional.

This website answers the question so much better than I ever could.

Why Is It So Important to Do Devotions Every Day?

What would the people in your church look like if they snacked on meager food morsels during the week and ate only one good meal on the weekend? You know the answer, don't you? You'd find yourself surrounded by emaciated, gaunt people in desperate need of nutrition.

And how would these undernourished believers fare against a demonic adversary? Can you imagine how this army would look? You'd see threadbare skeletons with hollow cheeks and sunken eye-sockets, lined up like phantoms. Weakened by famine, that shriveled militia could barely stand at attention; each would struggle to find the strength to keep his or her bony frame upright.

Could this "army" conquer an opposing force?

No way. No earthly general would send them out to fight.

Well, then, how about the army of the Lord? What of those who gather on Sunday mornings? Are they spiritually nourished to fight the battles ahead? Considering what most members of God's army subsist on—an occasional tidy snack from a devotional book and perhaps an average-sized meal on Sundays to satiate conscience—you'd have to conclude that God's fighting force has some serious training to do.

Have you ever wondered why marriages seemingly crumble overnight, and—out of the blue—Christians leaders fall to luring temptations?

The truth is, no marriage instantly disintegrates, and no one suddenly falls away from Christ. For that matter, no one dies from an eating disorder after missing a day or two of meals.

It could better be described as a slow decline—gradual spiritual starvation, barely even discernible to the outside observer. The malnourishment of God's sons and daughters happens over time, as they eat less and less. Then, in their weakness, they do something that shocks everyone, finally revealing what was really going on in their spiritual lives.

Did you know that more than 80 percent of those who call themselves Christians read their Bibles only once a week? And that's usually on Sundays, at church. They come to church to get their spiritual fill, and then snack on devotional tidbits for the rest of the week (if even that).

I wish for just one day God would change the way our eyes work, so we would see ourselves spiritually. We'd see most American churches filled with skeletal, hollow-eyed saints, looking as if a gust of wind would blow them away like tumbleweeds.

Which is why, when some new trend floods America and pushes our nation further away from God, further away from our spiritual roots, the church is unable to withstand the tide. We simply don't have the strength.

So what's the solution? ....

If we eat only once a week, it's no wonder the church is weak and struggling. But daily fresh bread can change all of that. Regularly dining on fresh bread makes for a stalwart, strong, developed army—the only kind of force that will always make a difference in this world.

So, will you join us? We already have several new people joining in, and all but one member is returning again this year. You can participate as much or as little as you are able to commit to. You can read along with us, read the daily posts and comment as you have time. Or you can commit to writing some of the posts as well. It's up to you!

It doesn't have to be my blog.

But choose something.

Choose a plan to get into the Word. Daily. And see what God will do!


Kathryn said...

Tammy, may I have permission to repost this post in it's entirety in my blog? It is GOOD and mirrors my heart's passion about the word.

TammyIsBlessed said...

Absolutely Kathryn, I would be honoured.

Alicia said...

Good post. I too enjoyed the OT more than I ever have.
I found it ironic that our sermon last sunday was on reading plans and the importance of being in the word more, that more being individually more than what you had done before. I thought of you and though "how could that woman do more!" lol!
You did a great job keeping things going there, I could NEVER have stayed up on it like that. Still, I know you did not do it to shine but to grow in the Word and I think GOd has blessed that for you.
Enjoy your new year of reading. I'm still trying to decide if I want to read along with you guys along on the side but I want to see how much my Psalms Inductive study takes.

Alicia said...

oh, and i'm adding you to my new blog list so i can keep up!:)

Donna said...

I was doing well last year, until I got stuck in Ezekiel. So this year, I am picking up where I left off and working at it. You're right that the only way to fail at this is to quit. So I'm going to keep going.

TammyIsBlessed said...

Thanks Alicia for your kind words. They are humbling because I know I have so far to go in other areas - prayer, memorizing the Word, etc. So glad to at least be making headway in one area - encouraging for the rest of the journey!

Way to go Donna!! So glad you're going to maybe read along with our blog. If you like, you can "start over" with us, or you can just keep going where you are - whichever will help you be more accountable!

Donna said...

I really want to finish what I started, so I'm going to keep going. :)


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