One of the things i hope to do this year is to read more. Which in turn helps me to be closer to God and understand Him more/deeper. Every year i think about all the Bible reading plans out there. And surely i have tried my fair share of them. And failed. So many times. They just often don't work. If i have a plan with deadline (say you want to read through the Bible in a year), life just gets in the way. Same with any deadline related plan. No matter how small portion the reading is. So in that sense, i have felt like a failure a lot! I've tried, and quit a lot of plans. Starting a reading plan and then starting to see how you skip days, because you just couldn't get to it. Or do read, but remember nothing of it. Well i don't see the point then. When i look for a Bible reading plan, i look for something that works. Something that would help me understand scripture more. Not just get the Scripture read and tick it off. But something that goes with the pace that i need. So finally! I have found one plan that i believe might actually work.
Here's a link: http://ransomfellowship.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/notes_biblereadin...
Basically, you have assigned topics for each day of the week - this way you don't get bored. Also, there's tick off boxes when you have finished chapter or few. BUT there's no deadline! No pressure! It will be your choice how much you read! And i love that.
So today I read Job. 3-4 chapters in the beginning, and it so reminded me of my last year.
This last year was a huge struggle for me. So many times life looked gloomy, and i felt doomed. My struggles with skin picking, skin itching, mental illness. Not to mention living in a foreign country and longing for friends and family you've left behind. And then there's also marriage, that isn't always easy. Life just wanted to seem gloomy. Out of control. Hopeless at times even.
Reading the book of Job, really opens your eyes to some dark stuff. I do recommend if you read it, don't just read chapter or two. Go through it.
1st chapter starts with Job getting loads of bad news at once! I am sure we've all been there. You get bad news. And then everything else that you hear after that, seems bad news too. Nothing could go right. Everything is bad and horrible. But when you look at the verses at the end of that chapter. (Job 1:21)
I came naked from my mothe's womb,
and i will be naked when i leave.
The Lord gave me what i had,
and the Lord has taken it away.
Praise the name of the Lord!
Job, in the midst of losing everything (his farm animals, his servants, his children), DECIDED to praise God. I think often times we let our emotions, our situations, our struggles tell us what to do. When in reality, you can tell your emotions to "shut up" and decide for yourself what to do. As Bible says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 - we can take our thoughts captive. Don't let them run you over. Same way when you read James 1:2-4 trials and temptations are there for our benefit. We will grow and stretch through them.
Hey, I'm preaching this to myself as much as I am sharing this with you. I need to hear this as well. But, I want to tell you that no matter what life throws at you, we can choose to either accept the doom and gloom, or we can choose to focus our thoughts on what God has said.
Job 2 continues with some skin condition. Job was yet again tested. And i can totally relate. If you've been following my blog, you know how much i've struggled with skin stuff. Be it crazy itching that no doctor has stil to this day figured out, or my skin picking struggles. In that chapter we see that Job was blessed to have friends. Friends, who even though they didn't know what to say, came to see him and comfort him. Also, what i noticed was that satan went to ask permission from the Lord to tempt Job. Which shows again how Lord is over all ruler! How good is that!? Satan needed permission to tempt Job. We are God's chosen people. God has got your back.
In the third chapter, well there's a lot of depressive suicidal thoughts. Which again, i totally understand. I've been there. It is often very hard to see blessings and the value of life when you are in the midst of trials and temptations. I've asked myself often "why me?", forgetting to focus on the good. Forgetting to focus on what God's Word says.
I have no peace, no quietness.
I have no rest; only trouble comes
I have felt that. Like there's always trouble. And more trouble. And more trouble. But that's not where Job will stay. That's not where Job will focus. That is just a moment.
I only got to chapter 4 today, because that already was quite a lot to process. So let's finish with looking at chapter 4.
There, you see how Job's friends will remind him of good stuff.
In the past you have encouraged many people;
you have strengthened those who were weak.
Your words have supported those who were falling;
you encouraged those with shaky knees.
But now when trouble strikes, you lose heart.
You are terrified when it touches you.
Doesn't your reverance for God give you confidence?
Doesn't your life of integrity give you hope?
Job's friends try to remind him of his past. How life has been good. How he has helped others. Blessed others. How he has had value in his life.
Often times i think we miss blessings. We don't notice them. Unless we take special time, stop and think. Where have i been a blessing? Where has God used me? What good have i seen in my life? It's extremely important to see that. Some people keep gratitude journal for that. I'm too forgetful for that. But looking back on my last year, i cried. For God has brought me and us through so so much! Even when i don't see how i've blessed others, i can see how trials and temptations have made us stronger. How God HAS brought us through so much!
I hope you are encouraged by Job's life. I hope you will take time to read more of His Word. To ponder and think about blessings. Focus on the good. Choose what you think about.