Thursday, February 4, 2016


I am using a new read-through-the-Bible daily reading schedule this year. It amazes me how mixing up the order in which I read the various books of the Bible makes familiar passages fresh and exciting.

In early January, I read Genesis and John together:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light... - Genesis 1:1-3

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men... - John 1:1-4

Next, I read Job and James together:

There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil...And the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job...a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?"...And the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life." - Job 1:1,8; 2:6

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." - James 1:2-4

Morning after morning, the juxtaposition of Old and Testament passages absolutely takes my breath away.

Using my former reading schedule (Genesis to Malachi/Matthew to Revelation), I was amazed at how frequently the schedule would have me reading a passage of Scripture at the very moment I needed to hear what that passage had to say.

How could God know I needed to read one particular collection of verses, on one particular cold gray Tuesday in January, and then get me to those verses at exactly the right moment, despite the fact that I was behind on my daily Bible reading? God is so wonderful!

Would I have the same experience - God speaking with such precision and timeliness into the circumstances of my life and to the condition of my heart - would that happen with this new reading schedule?

I woke up today feeling like I had an overweight St. Bernard dog sitting on my chest. I felt defeated before I even threw back the blankets and put my feet on the floor. In the week and a half since I tumbled down the back steps and injured my arm, I have fallen hopelessly behind on my Need-To-Do list. My Want-To-Do list has completely disappeared under a mountain of undone household chores, writing assignments, and miscellaneous errands.

I lay in bed this morning, waiting for the alarm to beep!, smothering under the weight of so much that needed to be done. I struggled to breathe deeply and stay calm. And I prayed.

God, please help me to remember that my joy, worth, security, peace, hope, and delight are not grounded in what I do or don't do, but only in You. Father, you created me and you sustain me. Jesus redeemed me and sanctifies me. Your Holy Spirit intercedes for me and is always nearer than breath. Everything about you, God - the Trinity! - desires good things for me and you are working in every circumstance of my life to accomplish those good things.

Father, please show me what you want me to do today, and help me to do those things. Help me not to be distracted by and discouraged about those things I must leave undone. Help me to receive what you give me today with gratitude, and keep me from worrying about tomorrow.

Somewhat less panicked, I got out of bed, got dressed, fed the college man breakfast and saw him out the door. Turning to face the day, I thought, "I am pretty far ahead on my Scripture reading schedule. Maybe I'll just skip that until later so that I can get started on my list of chores before the others in the house wake up."

It seemed terribly hypocritical of me to wake up praying for God to help me get through the day, only to skip spending time with God in his Word because I was too busy.

I poured a cup of coffee and sat down at the kitchen counter with my Bible and my reading plan. This morning - Thursday, February 4th - I read the passages listed for Saturday, February 20th:  Exodus 16-18 and Matthew 10. It is not unusual for me to fall behind on my Bible reading, but being ahead is an oddity.

Behind, ahead...I guess God knew exactly where I needed to be reading, because this morning I read:

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not."...[and] whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack...morning by morning they gathered it... - Exodus 16:4,18, 21 (Emphasis added.)

And I also read:

"Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves...When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour." - Matthew 10:16a, 19 (Emphasis added.)

I was struck how, in both passages, God told his people:  1) Do today/at this moment what I have given you to do today/at this moment; and 2) Do not worry about tomorrow or about what comes next.

It was as if God met me at the kitchen counter and said, "You asked me to take care of you today. You asked me to help you today. Now are you going to trust me to take care of you or not?!"

Morning after morning, I sit down to read God's Word, and morning after morning, He takes my breath away.

Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see:
All I have needed thy hand hath provided - 
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
- John Milton

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