Today I read Numbers Chapter 16 and Ezekiel Chapter 16. These seemed like 2 of the most depressing chapters in the Bible. As I near the year’s end, I am almost done with reading through the whole Bible, but it took me not one year but almost five years. The reason I know this is because each time I read though a book of the Bible I record the date I completed it at the top of its title page. I last read Ezekiel in April 2013. However, I have read Romans six times in those years and each of the gospels four times.
I once heard Francis Chan say, “We read the Bible not to finish but to be changed.” Every time I consider that thought, I pause and slow down. Am I trying to complete a schedule or am I allowing God to transform me day by day?
You may notice although I am almost finished, the parts that remain unread are from the middle. When I want to feel a sense of accomplishment, I read one of the Minor Prophets or an epistle. If you want to complete 90% of the books (60/66) of the Bible, you can postpone reading Leviticus, Numbers, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. I am not suggesting you do not take time to delve into these books because Leviticus and Numbers contain many passages foreshadowing the coming Messiah, and two of the most beautiful passages on the New Covenant are found in Jeremiah and Ezekiel. However, if you are at risk of not wanting to pick up God’s word because the day’s reading is in Numbers, change things up and read Joel or 2 Timothy.
I will meditate on your precepts and regard your ways. I shall delight in your statutes; I shall not forget your word. (Psalm 119:15-16) Like the Psalmist, I desire to delight in the Word of God. For me, this means I will not chastise myself for taking so long to read through the entire Bible. Today, whether I meditate on one verse or read 10 chapters, I will mine His word for treasures more valuable than all worldly wealth and for nourishment sweeter than honey.
As you enter a room full of people, you may notice a hint of vanilla or berries or flowers.
Depending on the strength and scent, someone’s perfume can have a positive of negative effect. My mom loves the fragrance Chanel No. 5 – eau de toilette, so as a child I identified this fragrance wither her presence.
In 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, Paul compares believers to perfume in the world.
Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.
When I looked up “eau,” I found it means water. How fitting. Jesus told us that His living water will flow through us. After I have spent time with someone, is there a lingering fragrance of Christ? As we go forth into the world as His ambassadors, how well are we representing his mission? Whether we are called to manifest his grace or his truth, his generosity or his justice, in all things there should be an eau de Jesus permeating our lives.
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8
Forever. The word of God stands forever! I drove by the tree stump pictured below which stood near my house for a very long time, possibly a mere sapling as the battles of Civil War thundered nearby. In a mere few hours, this tree was felled by a chain saw.
Not so with the Word of God. In Jeremiah 1:12, the Lord tells the prophet, “I am watching over My word to perform it.” In Joshua we read, “Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.” In 2 Corinthians 1:20 we learn, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him.”
Even the prophet-for-hire, Balaam, could not come against God’s word to bring a curse upon Israel. What confidence we have in God’s word! In a world filled with chain-saws and other methods of destruction, when we stand on the certainty of God’s word, we are like trees firmly planted by streams of water, yielding fruit in season, our leaves do not wither and in whatever we do, we thrive.
I struggle. One of my biggest questions is wondering if the things I do every day matter in light of eternity. I tend to trivialize the small things. (I tried to dictate ideas on this subject into my phone, and when I said “trivialize,” it heard me say “chocolate truffles.”)
Why do small things matter?
- God sees and cares about them. When I pay attention to these seemingly minor things, I demonstrate to the world a God-like quality since God is more concerned with character and faithfulness than magnitude.
- Accomplishing a small thing is better than dreaming of/talking about a big thing.
- Small things affect individuals. An expression of Christ’s love through an encouraging word or kind act can alter someone’s day or even life.
- Small things have ripple effects. I just may not see them.
- Many small things over time add up.
As I continued to try to come to grips with God’s greater perspective, He put the idea of a mosaic in my mind. Interestingly enough, I recently visited the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts where I saw a large mosaic, The Four Seasons, which was about 6’x17’ (or 180 cm x 520 cm) that contained thousands of tiny one-centimeter square tiles. Each one on its own is insignificant but formed an intricate pattern when arranged by the creator.
P.S. Chocolate truffles may be small, but they are delicious 😊
Dear Loquacious One:
I realize you emphasize that being talkative is part of your personality; however, recently I have wondered if that tendency leads to interactions which keep the focus on you instead of allowing your presence to benefit others. Therefore, I would like you to consider some things to change. When we are together, it is difficult to get in a word-edgewise, so I will offer my suggestions in this letter.
Pre-plan questions concerning the interests of the person with whom you are talking. Listen to the answers and ask follow-up questions instead of anticipating what you will say next. If you notice you are monopolizing a conversation, stop and either remain silent until another person speaks or bring up one of these previously considered questions.
Count to 10 in your head before commenting. Some people weigh their responses more carefully and need a little more time before speaking.
Share the pizza. If you are having guests to your house for dinner, it would be rude if opened the box of pizza and ate it all before offering some to others. Do you remember the manners your mother taught you? Divide the portions equally. If there are 8 people in a discussion, respond only about 10-15% of the time.
Limit your answer to one topic speaking only for a minute or two instead of rambling. Don’t be like the dog that won’t give up its bone no matter how much someone tugs at it.
Don’t hijack the conversation. This occurs when you use someone else’s comment to segue into what happened to you or turn a conversation back to the subject you want to discuss.
Come with an attitude of “What can I learn from others in the group?” instead of, “How can I share my knowledge with them?” Just because you have a thought or opinion, you don’t have to speak it. Allow someone else to have the last word.
Perhaps you have been challenged to “Get out of your comfort zone” and believed that meant to be bold and speak up. Consider how my witty, introverted friend translates this for extroverts, “Sit down and listen.”