Christmas Day is almost here. Hanukkah began on Monday. Kwanzaa is next Monday. New Year’s Day is coming soon for most. Culturally, this is the time of year when traditions – religious and otherwise – are observed and most of us begin to wind down for some rest, reflection, and re-energizing. In my tradition and in line with my personal beliefs, Christmas is the season for celebrating the coming of the long-awaited Messiah. The birth of Jesus is central to the varied traditions I observe.
In Part III of this series titled Do the Work, I want to issue each of you a specific challenge.
Earlier this year, during a months-long series of sermons at my church based on the book of Hebrews, our Lead Pastor made the point that it is good for us to “sit in the Word (of God)”. I couldn’t agree more! In my own Life Roadmap, written over 34 years ago now, one of the aspirations I wrote was to “devote my remaining time on earth to learning and following the principles found in the Bible.” Though still imperfectly following, I have done the work of learning by sitting in the Word. Here are the many ways:
Reading: I have endeavored to read through the Bible every 2 years. I use the New Living Translation for this purpose as it is translated into today’s common English, making for easier reading. This means I have read cover to cover approximately 15 times, and I consistently learn through each reading.
Studying: leading or participating in small group studies is effective as others can enhance my understanding. Doing the work on my own – both through devotionals which give me insight from other trusted writers and studying small sections of the Scriptures at a time looking at all cross-references.
Memorizing: I have 100 specific verses memorized and review some of them each day. I am working my way through memorizing the book of Philippians, part way into Chapter 3 currently.
Meditating: in the Psalms, after specific verses throughout, the word Selah appears. Selah is commonly translated to mean “pause”, so I have worked through the Psalms pausing to listen to what God is saying in each of these verses. I also from time to time will meditate and write observations about one of the verses I have memorized.
Listening: Sunday sermons, podcasts, musical lyrics, and the like provide insight into understanding the Word of God and being inspired to live according to its principles.
And so, the challenge. For those who believe in Jesus, I challenge you to adopt one or more of the ideas above into your rhythm for 2023.
For those of who you do not believe in Jesus, I challenge you to read the Gospel of John. It is the 4th book in the New Testament. I suggest you read this in the New Living Translation, or another that is in more updated language to avoid the thee’s and thou’s. Read the first chapter of John each day between now and Christmas Day, noting what is says about Jesus (the Word). Then starting the day after, read a chapter each day and circle the word “believe” (in any form) each time you see it. In the end, look to verses 30 & 31 of chapter 20 as the purpose of the gospel account. Then flip back through the book and note how many times “believe” is circled. Is believing worthy of your further contemplation? Yes, it is!