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Friday, May 27, 2016

Reflections on Reading the Gospel of Mark in One Sitting

Sunday at Bethany Place I challenged those present to read the gospel of Mark from start to finish at one time. We talked about the frustration of longing for change and not experiencing it. We talked about the definition of insanity as to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. So the challenge went like this: Many of the books in the Bible were written to be read aloud all at once. Perhaps we could hear the call of God more clearly and be more impressed with the glory of Jesus by reading an entire book of the Bible at once, especially one of the gospels. I had done this before with some longer books and all of the shorter ones and knew something about the spiritual benefit of this practice.

Probably a couple dozen people said they planned to take the challenge. I’ve heard from several others later that had done the reading. Sunday night I took my own challenge. I was tired when I started. At about the halfway point I was getting sleepy. I changed positions twice to stay alert, but I stuck with it. It took me 55 minutes. I tell you how long it took me so you will not think that It’s like trying to jump over the moon. It’s very doable. It was not at my best nor doing my best reading. However, here is some of what I wrote Sunday night after reading: 
My soul is full. I am more at peace at this moment than I’ve been in some while, though I know sometimes reading like this would leave me troubled and deeply convicted. I’m reminded of this word of Jesus, in John 15:John 15:3 (ESV) Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.
This is primarily talking about how the word of God is active in accomplishing the initial work of God of salvation in us. But it’s a phrase I haven’t dwelt heavily on. I heard my friend Brian White once say, reading the Bible is like taking a spiritual bath. I know that my sins are covered and are remembered no more, but right now i am experiencing that in real time! Often on Sunday evenings I’m fighting off tremendous discouragement. It is just a thing that most pastors I know wrestle with. But now I’m full of joy and hope.
Would you try this? Think of the ways we squander time. What if God would do a new work in you simply through an extended time of reading his word! What if the breakthrough you’ve been longing for you or someone for whom you care deeply lies behind a new practice of extended reading time in the word of God?

I can’t promise that every time you do extended reading of the Bible that it will be a glorious experience. It certainly isn’t always for me. Don’t get discouraged. Rather, apply another famous word of Jesus:
Matthew 7:7–8 (ESV)7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
You’ve likely heard that the Greek verbs in these verses depict ongoing action meaning, “keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking,.” Persistent and extended reading of the Bible is a way this seeking and knocking happens. Perhaps a new crop of the fruit of the Holy Spirit within you awaits. How can we refuse such an opportunity? I’d love to hear how it goes.

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