Thursday

The 3 Best Things I Did in 2013 - Part I

I made a commitment to do three things every day in 2013. 

I didn’t know at the time that those three things would be my salvation. 

On January 1, 2013, the first commitment I made was to read my Bible through in a year. At this point, most of you will probably yawn and click over to something more exciting, but if you stay with me, I promise to share something that will change your life forever. 

When I committed to read through the Bible in 2013, it wasn’t the first time I’d attempted it. I’ve read through the Bible in a year five times. I’ve also attempted to read through it in a year at least five times and failed. 

I waffled about making the commitment again on January 1, because, honestly, it takes discipline. Reading through the Bible in a year takes approximately 15 minutes a day. Every day. 365 days a year. And part of me is lazy. I want to read what I want, when I want to. And sometimes I don't want to read the Bible at all (sad, really, since reading God’s Word always makes my day better). 

I’ve found, though, that motivational speaker Zig Zeigler was right. When you aim at nothing, you hit it every time. 

When I have no plan for reading the Bible, I have no consistent source from which to gain wisdom, peace, hope, faith, perspective, and self-discipline. 

But what if I commit to reading the Bible through and don’t make it? Someone asked me as we discussed new year goals. 

“Let’s suppose,” I responded, “you only read through half of the Bible this year. Or two-thirds. Will you have failed? Instead of saying, ‘I only read through half the Old Testament,’ you can say, ‘I read through HALF the Old Testament.’ I bet most people on the planet have never done this. And who’s to say that reading through the Bible in a year can’t take two? When you say, 'I read through the entire Bible in 15 months, or 18 months, or 24,' is that a bad thing? You will have read through the entire Bible. The ENTIRE Bible. Again, most people on the planet haven’t done this."
  
"The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low, and we hit it," said Michelangelo. I wonder if he set goals when he painted the Sistine Chapel? 

It took him four years, by the way. 

When I committed, on January 1, to read through the Bible in a year, I had no idea 2013 would be one of the most challenging years of my life. I experienced heartbreak, grief, loss, betrayal, and the aftermath of a significant injury that left my husband out of work for 7 months. 

On January 1, I knew none of this was on the horizon. 

But God did. 

And he led me to a Bible reading commitment because he knew I would need a daily source of truth when the circumstances of my life and the enemy of my soul tried to drown out his voice. 

On January 24, when the enemy shouted, I win!, the Word of God said, “So it was not you who sent me here, but God” (Gen. 45:8). 

On January 28, when I questioned the future of my ministry, the Word of God said, “Therefore, let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to him in doing good” (1 Peter 4:19). 

On February 21, when the enemy’s condemning voice was loud, the Word of God said, “Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in you. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me. For I wait for you” (Ps. 25:20). 

On March 2, when I wondered if I’d wasted 20 years of my life, the Word of God said, “They that sow in tears will reap in joy. He who goes forth weeping, bearing precious seed, will doubtless come again rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:6). 

On July 1, when I questioned if my second devotional book would ever be published, the Word of God said, “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him” (Ps. 37:5). 

On September 21, when we welcomed our precious granddaughter into the world and whispered our first prayer for her salvation, the Word of God said, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through his grace. . .” (Gal. 1:15). 

And on November 28, when I received an acceptance letter from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, the Word of God said, “He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). 

If I hadn’t committed to read through the Bible in 2013, I'd have missed a daily source of hope, comfort, perspective, truth, power, and wisdom. I would have wallowed in despair, trembled in fear, drowned in disappointment, and stumbled in service. 

The year 2013 might have derailed my faith instead of galvanizing it. 

On December 30, I read the final chapters in Malachi, Psalms, Proverbs, and Revelation. And on January 1, I began to read God’s Word again. Lord willing, I’ll read from Genesis to Revelation in 2014, but even if I don’t read the final verses on December 31, I will be better for spending a small part of every day in the Word of God. 

Will you join me? I promise. It will change your life. 

In my next post, I’ll share the second best thing I did in 2013. If you haven’t yet subscribed to Hungry for God, why not do it today, so you won’t miss a single post in the new year? Enter your email address below, and don’t forget to validate your subscription by clicking on the link in the email that arrives. 

Note: While there are many different Bible reading schedules and plans, I’ve been most successful in reading the One Year Bible. It contains a daily selection from the Old and New Testaments, Psalms, and Proverbs, and takes about 15 minutes to read. All I do is open the Bible to that day’s date and begin reading. 

What helps you consistently spend time in God's Word? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.


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12 comments:

  1. WOW--He always has perfect timing, doesn't He? I'm always awed by the fact that words written thousands of years ago apply to us, and our situations, today. I'm sorry for your tough year but it sounds like it has strengthened your faith. Several years ago, just before I found the text message that ultimately ended my marriage, I started seriously reading the Bible. I was so grateful for that foundation during the months of making choices, moving, and searching for a job. And several months before I found out, I found an article which I printed in the Christian newspaper I publish. The article was about the Psalms of Ascent, Psalms 120-130. I was so thankful to have read that article so I knew where to start ... I was so distraught that I couldn't concentrate enough to read anything in the Bible BUT the Psalms.

    How do I consistently spend time in God's Word? I do it first thing in the morning many days; the days I go to work early I plan the time to do it before I go to bed. The more I do it, the more I want to do it! I pray for Him to give me the desire to do so. I journal about what I read. I write questions/comments in the margins of my Bible. I underline. I write out verses that speak to me, so I can refer back to them. I have gotten to the place where I truly WANT to read His word every day, and the day doesn't feel complete if I don't.

    God bless you, especially for sharing what His Word has done for you!

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    1. Shelly,
      You're so right. God gives us what we need BEFORE we need it if we'll just cooperate. I'll never forget the year that I decided to join an Experiencing God Bible study. Every week I learned to trust God more, listen to his voice, and obey his Word. Then my husband lost his job, and oh my, it was time to put shoe leather to my faith. But because he had hedged me in behind and before with spiritual truth, I already had what I needed to walk through the trial and make it out on the other side. God DID provide for us. He DID meet our every need, and I DID learn lessons that have lasted a lifetime. Your story is equally powerful, and a testimony to God's love and care for you. Thank you so much for sharing it with us today. You are a wise woman to make an appointment with God every day. It's obvious that you have a sweet walk with our precious Savior.

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  2. Wonderful, inspiring words for me at the beginning of my own struggle to spend more time in Devotion to God. This year I will not bend to the world and my desire to do as I please. Thank you for sharing this, it has really blessed me.

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    1. Lynda,
      I wonder if it will always be a struggle? I often wonder why, when I never regret spending time in God's Word, why it continues to be a battle. Perhaps it is because we live in a sinful body. I think of Paul's words in Romans "that which I want to do, I don't do, and that which I hate, I do. Oh wretched man that I am!" If Paul struggled, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, and God bless you and your times of Bible study in this new year!

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  3. Many years ago, I was thinking about a new direction in my life and wondering if I could do it. As I thought about my goals, God clearly spoke to me (not in an audible voice): "even if you fall flat on your face, your head is closer to your goals than if you had done nothing!" I haven't thought about that for many years but your post reminded me. So often we berate ourselves for what we didn't achieve instead of congratulating ourselves on what we did achieve! As for me, I had planned to re-read the gospels (in order) slowly this year but on Jan 2 realised that reading across all four gospels at once might be more beneficial so I found a good reading plan on blueletterbible.org and that's what I'm doing! If it takes me a whole year, it'll be worth it.

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  4. "On January 1, 2013, the first commitment I made was to read my Bible through in a year. At this point, most of you will probably yawn and click over to something more exciting, but if you stay with me, I promise to share something that will change your life forever."

    No yawning here. Cheryl (my wife) and I will be reading it through with you. Interested to see what will change our lives ... I assume it is related to reading through the Bible?

    Good post.

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  5. Good for you, Warren. You and Cheryl are wise. I'm amazed at how many ministers don't have a regular Bible reading time. They study it for the purpose of preaching and teaching, but not just for the purpose of fellowshipping with the Lord. May God richly bless you, your family, and your ministry in this new year. Let's compare notes in about 12 months and see if our commitment has changed our lives :)

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    1. How is your Bible reading schedule going?

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    2. Thank you for asking, Warren, and for holding me accountable :) Since I use the One Year Bible, each day is marked with a date, and I'm delighted to say that today I read January 16's Old Testament, New Testament, Psalm and Proverb selection.

      I read about Jacob's return to his homeland and how he wrestled with the Angel of the Lord all night. "I will not let you go," he said, "until you bless me." May this be my prayer, too, to not let go of God until he blesses me. And I've found when I have clung to God like Jacob clung to him, he always blesses me by revealing new things about himself and his character.

      And how are you and Cheryl doing?

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  6. Mmm, I just left a lengthy response to your response and then accidentally hit "sign out." So, its gone.

    In brief: waiting 12 months to compare notes may be too long. Once a month, maybe. Cheryl and I will do it daily (hopefully). In an article on Bible reading I gave my congregation permission to ask me regularly if I am on track.

    God bless your reading efforts!

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  7. Lori,
    I remember the first time I ever read through the whole Bible. It took me 3 years, but it radically changed my life forever.

    I've also read it in a year and discovered the blessing of reading large chunks of God's Word in one sitting. No matter how long it takes me, I always turn around and start reading it through all over again because nothing I've ever done has changed me like reading through His Word!

    I've enjoyed each of your posts on The 3 Best Things You Did in 2013. I'll have to consider the 1,000 gifts idea. I've heard of it. The journaling has been part of my life forever...the writer in me? Love it!!!

    Thanks so much for this great post series!!

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    1. Jean,
      I agree. The accountability of reading through the whole Bible means we encounter parts of the Scripture that we wouldn't naturally gravitate to. Whenever that happens, I always discover a gem, probably because I'm not so familiar with those particular passages or books. God is always good to reward us for pursuing him. Like Jacob wrestling with God (my OT reading today), he blesses us for our persistence. May God richly bless your reading this year!

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