Wednesday, January 1, 2014

21 Day Challenge

I want to pass on a great offer that Beth Moore put out recently. I think it ends January 10. She's offering 4 free E-books. If you haven't read her stuff it's really great. You just have to really put your heart into reading it and not just glance at it. I downloaded them onto my regular computer and they opened without any difficulty or other software need. Find them on Amazon or through the links on here:

I heard a suggestion on the radio recently about a 21-day challenge. There are lots of resolutions and great plans of how to improve ourselves this time of year, but this one has more long term implications than the ones stressing how to improve our bodies or bank accounts. This one is a challenge to spend about 10 minutes per day seeking God, specifically by reading the book of John.

Okay, you all know I make a point of not checking who does and doesn't follow this, just for situations like this. But I still know what some readers will think when they read about this challenge. Some believers will think, "Oh, that's a great idea for someone who doesn't know about the Bible". But to you I still suggest it because there's always something more to glean from the Word. We're studying Matthew in Bible Study Fellowship this year and I'm getting more out of it than ever (the classes are everywhere, get in it, you won't be sorry!!!! Every week I'm motivated and inspired, moreso than just focusing on the letters to churches that seem more practical. Another group of readers would say they are Christians but aren't totally devoted. Half of what I say on here sounds foreign or a little crazy. You might think you should do this challenge at some point, so maybe you'll bookmark it for when your schedule opens up. Please just do it now! It will only take a few minutes and really could change your life. Don't let fear of having to give things up by truly seeking Him get in the way of what He has for you! Finally, there are likely plenty of readers who have a different belief set than me. If you're closed off to Christianity, you can do this challenge for the sake of better understanding or debating us, or to resolve those nagging questions we could all face one day, "What if I'm wrong?" and "What if they're right?". Ignorance is no longer an acceptable defense, we all have access to all sorts of religious writings and beliefs and being angry at God or anything else doesn't make Him any less real.

I don't want to ruin God's word by adding external commentaries or explanations to it, so I'm going to just paste it here, with a little formatting for ease of reading. One chapter per day for 21 days. It will take you 10 minutes. Get to a quiet place, turn off your phone, set the kids in front of an educational tv show, pray for your eyes/ears/heart to be open to receiving it, and then read it. Write down your random thoughts, notes, or questions, to refer to later. If it is not real, it doesn't matter if you do it, it wouldn't hurt to pray to or read about a God who doesn't hear or care. 

Here it is, John chapter 1:

      In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.  He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

        The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

    Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.” They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.”

      Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness,‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”  Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”  “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

     The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.  And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’  I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

     The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”  When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”  “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
     Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus.The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

     The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida.  Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”  “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

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