Revelation 22:17 (NIV) “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”
…and the emotion welled and the gratitude engulfed me, as I finished reading the Bible in 90 days…only my second time ever to read through the entire Bible.
And I am profoundly grateful and forever changed by this 90-day experience! I see better, the overall story and big picture…how the Old Testament lays the foundation for understanding the New, and how Jesus is the very fulfillment of the plan God has had from the very beginning of time. The plan to have a personal and intimate relationship with each and every one of us.
And as I began the New Testament on day #72, I continued to learn so very much…
Through the four gospels, I read of the life of Jesus…His birth, His ministry, His horrific death on the cross, and His miraculous resurrection. And before Jesus ascended, He commissioned His disciples to go into all the world and make disciples. And with conviction and purpose, that is exactly what they passionately did!
In the book of Acts, Luke writes a riveting account of what happened after the ascension of Christ, and sets the ongoing background-story for the next 13 days of reading. And Luke tells how, amidst persecution and resistance from the authorities, the church grows with vibrancy.
Then Jesus himself appears to a man named Saul, who had been known as the greatest persecutor of the growing church, and Saul converts and becomes a believer, and later is referred to by the name of Paul.
And Paul, along with the other apostles, encounters many challenges, obstacles, and opposition, but is relentless in sharing the good news of Jesus. So much so, that he goes on three separate journeys, to spread the good news and establish churches around the world.
And it is during these travels, he writes various letters to encourage and strengthen the different churches he has helped grow and establish.
On his second missionary journey, Paul travels through Philippi, Thessalonica, and Greece, and stays in the city of Corinth for 1 1/2 years, where he works as a tentmaker with Priscilla and Aquila. It is from there, that Paul writes two letters to the Thessalonians, encouraging them to continue in their love and labor for the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
He also writes to the Galatians, to help them understand that they are no longer to live by the legalism of the law. They were insisting that Gentile converts submit to the laws and rituals to which the Jews had been accustomed. But Paul writes to remind them that there is freedom from the law through Christ, with the new covenant He has established through grace.
Galatians 5:1 (NIV) It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Then, on his third missionary journey, Paul travels through Asia to Ephesus where he stays for 2 1/2 years. It is from there he writes two letters to the Corinthians, who he had spent over a year with, and he urges them to stand firm amidst the pagan culture in which they reside.
And soon Paul is able to return, to visit Corinth, and from there he writes to the Romans. Paul encourages them that the grace and love that is given by God is not to be a substitute for the law, but actually is a greater motivation to obey God’s law.
Romans 8:35, 38-39 (NASB) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?…For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And after more travels, and a brief stop to speak to some leaders from Ephesus, Paul arrives in Jerusalem. And he is persecuted and attacked by the Jewish religious leaders, only to be saved from certain death by the Roman authorities.
After giving a defense for himself before several Roman leaders, Paul is sent to Rome to appear before Caesar. He sets sail as a prisoner in route to Rome, and after getting shipwrecked, finally arrives, where he is put under house arrest as a prisoner, awaiting his appeal.
It is as a prisoner from Rome, that Paul writes to the Colossians, the Ephesians, and the Philippians, as well as a personal letter to Philemon. He reminds them all of the hope they have through Christ Jesus, and encourages them to live lives worthy of the calling they have received through Him.
Ephesians 4:1-3 (NASB) Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
The book of Acts concludes as Paul has spent two years in Rome. It is unclear exactly what happens next, but many think it very possible that Paul was eventually released from Rome and went on to continue his ministry, travelling on to Crete, Ephesus, and eventually Macedonia.
While in Macedonia, Paul writes a letter to Timothy, who is in Ephesus, leading the people there. He encourages Timothy as their leader, and gives him some practical wisdom as to how to lead the church. Paul then writes to Titus, who he had left in Crete along the way, also encourages him as he leads the church there.
Although the writer of Hebrews is unknown, many attribute it to Paul, and it is very possible he wrote this powerful book. It is written to Christians who had a Jewish background, emphasizing that Jesus is our high priest and the mediator of the new covenant that we have with God.
Hebrews 9:15 (NASB) For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
And Paul’s final letter is his second letter to Timothy, as Paul has been rearrested and returned to Rome. He begs Timothy to join him in Rome as soon as possible, and writes to him with urgency.
As significant as Paul’s letters are, several other apostles wrote moving books of inspiration and instruction as well, including Jesus’ brothers, James and Jude, two letters written by Peter, and three small letters written by the apostle John.
All of these, encourage Christians to follow in the commandments of Christ, and John especially emphasizes the love we are to have as we are followers of Christ…a love that responds by loving Him, obeying Him, and extending His love to others.
1 John 4:16-19 (NASB) We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.
And finally, Revelation…an apocalyptic book…and what grabbed my heart as I finished this journey, was the picture here of heaven…me imagining the act of worshipping before Him face to face…
Revelation 7:10,12 (NIV) “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb…Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”
This time through the Bible in 90 days has been life-changingly marvelous, and I am so very moved by the journey. God’s Word is powerful, and yet so intimate, a sweet and profound love letter from His heart to mine, and because of that I am forever changed.
And I would urge each one of you who have never embarked upon reading the Bible all the way through, to do it! You will never regret it…and I beg you, in the words of Natalie Grant:
Come as you are…broken and scarred… Lift up your heart…and be amazed… and be changed…by a perfect God!
How have you been changed by the magnificence and power of God’s Word?