Fakes are frustrating. They look the part but never satisfy. If you don’t believe me, try to get some EDT from the net. Smells like the real deal – just doesn’t last. I still remember seeing a pair of Nikes trainers with the ‘swoosh’ in the other direction – that bad that it almost looked hip…
Here is a bold statement, perhaps: ‘grace isn’t realty grace if it’s not scandalous’. Jesus tells an intriguing parable about a vineyard owner who hires people at different stages of the day and ends paying them the same amount. Look closely and the story is presenting a fair man that keeps his word but gives grace to the latecomers…
Some are scandalized by the story because they play the comparison game. Or maybe because they are jealous. Or self-righteous. We are more than happy with the God who forgives ‘not so bad’ people. Those who are a bit like us. Moral, yet slightly warped. From time to time. But then we all have our categories: ‘the others’ – the ones we dislike, the ones that frustrate us, the ones that frighten us… each with our own personalized blind spots of lovelessness.
The truth is – harsh but healthy truth – we are them.
God doesn’t grade sin.
We are sinful. the late comers in the parable.
Deserving next to nothing.
Yet lavished with a unexpected and scandalous grace
And that’s just happened, even today.
Live like you’ve just been graced out!
The events of the last week convinced me more than ever that the ruined lives of our world require a revolution. Not the kind you might hear much about. Maybe because it’s not easy….maybe because it has to start in me and with me, not others…
The uprising starts on the knees – in humble prayer. Not so much selfish lists but the items on the King’s agenda.
Intercessors refuse cynicism & passivity – they don’t fold their arms defeated by despair.
Intercessors refuse independence, knowing that every time they bow down, they become stronger and more effective in changing the world.
Intercessors refuse activism as cover up, pretending that by pedaling harder they will look better.
Intercessors know God because they enjoy spending time with Him – not because they have to, but because they long to.
Intercessors are servants not superheroes. In a world that craves recognition like a salty tongue craves water, they buck the trend by preferring the anonymous dark corner than the bright stage.
Intercessors make audacious requests, not settling for the achievable but honouring the King with the impossible.
I see a generation
Rising up to take the place
With selfless faith, with selfless faith
I see a near revival
Stirring as we pray and seek
We’re on our knees, we’re on our knees
Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity
Hillsong – Hosanna
As it is the beginning of the new year – many people are considering or reconsidering their Bible reading habits. Here are some reflections from my own journey with this issue.
- Plan & Persevere – develop a routine based on a program vs. open it it like Bible lottery (funny thing is, if you keep opening it at the same place, that’s where it will keep opening). Chose a plan that is suitable for you – https://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/?version=NIV . Fight the temptation to be defeated along the way – Satan’s desire is to keep you ignorant of God’s character and will. And that is what it’s all about: revelation, not just information. Keep going, like a marathon runner.
- Bible in a year – unless you’re a seasoned veteran and you’re used to reading the Bible cover to cover – please consider doing this. In terms of weight loss lingo – this is the equivalent of changing your lifestyle rather than cutting out one thing from time to time. It’s harder but so much healthier. In this way you will have a much better understanding of the whole counsel of God, you will have to deal with tricky passages and you will avoid the pick & mix syndrome about what you like/dislike of God’s revealed character.
- Get some good tools – a study Bible will be very helpful. Investing in a hard copy will prevent you from distractions, but a digital one might be cheaper – I like both the NIV Study Bible as well as the ESV Study Bible (apps are about £9.99). Also get highlighters, a nice A5 day a page diary and a pen – to help you jot down the good stuff for reflection or further discussion.
- Season with plenty of grace – unless you’re amazing – you might get behind. That’s when you’re at crossroads and the easiest thing is to give into guilt and shame, followed by a defeatist attitude. And Satan wins. This isn’t so much about God – but you. God loves you, as you’re hidden in Christ’s righteousness. Even if you miss one of your readings… But if you give into shame, guilt and defeat – you will have all the undiscovered treasures of Scripture laying unopened…
- Share – let the encounter with Scripture become and overflow. Post what you read and think on your social media or blog. Spend some time reading a portion together at tea/breakfast time as a family. Talk stuff out with your spouse and build one another up with it. Let it become a lifestyle, an attitude a joy rather than just a reluctant healthy habit.
- Pray – work on both fronts. Prayer and Scripture reading should be like coffee and cake. Great combination. Pray that the Holy Spirit will explain and create affection for the Bible as you read it. Then, let your reading fuel your prayer life!
At the moment I’m using BIOY app from HTB/Alpha – http://www.bibleinoneyear.org/. It has 3 sections daily: OT/NT/Psalms and it works via apps or even email. No excuse. This might help as usually get ‘stuck’ in the ‘cover to cover’ at Ezekiel/Isaiah. This way I will have two other passages the sweeten the battle. Just don’t cheat – read the passages first in the morning maybe – then later in the day read Nicky Gumbel’s devotional thoughts.
What works for you?