It’s always interesting to note the celebrities we lost in the last year, and 2018 witnessed the passing of several. These include evangelist Billy Graham, President Bush 41, Sen. John McCain, journalist Charles Krauthammer and musicians Roy Clark and preacher’s daughter Aretha Franklin who taught us how to spell r-e-s-p-e-c-t!
These deaths remind us of those who made an impact with their lives and remind us of our own mortality.
One way we can brush up our influence is to resolve to be better in the new year. About half of American adults make resolutions, but most are broken in a few months. For believers, a better way is the covenant. People of faith made covenants to the Lord throughout biblical history. The difference is the covenant is a faith-promise that asks for God’s help in making it happen. A covenant is seen as a binding relationship of dependence on God.
A worthy covenant is to promise to spend time in scripture. Three things may be helpful.
First, begin with a readable translation, of which there are many available at bookstores. Several websites offer electronic copies of the Bible with 30 or more translations. Even our friends the Gideons who have placed Bibles in many places have online scripture now!
Second, make a plan. Unless we schedule time for them, many good intentions fall aside. Some call a scripture-reading appointment a “quiet time,” and this is a good descriptor. In our busy and often noisy world, a time of quiet to commune with God is welcomed. Most denominations offer devotional guides or suggested daily readings. One plan, “Reading The Bible Through,” asserts that reading three chapters each day will take us through the scripture in one year. Many like to keep a prayer list or prayer journal with them during Bible reading.
Third, consider technology. Several websites have apps that can be downloaded to one’s phone for reading. One site I’m familiar with has daily reading suggestions. Another site allows one to download audible copies of scripture. This way we can hear the word of God while driving or working. This method is probably closer to what the personalities of the Bible did since copies of scripture were rare in those days. This is why the Bible doesn’t exhort us to “read” the word of God but to “hear” the word of God (James 1:22).
President Nixon worshipped at the First Baptist Church in Moscow while visiting Russia in the ’70s and found one full hour was devoted to the reading of scripture since most worshippers didn’t own Bibles.
We can be sure God will be pleased to help us with a covenant promise to read and obey his word.
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church's website is siluriabaptist.com.