Laurie Coombs is a passionate writer and speaker on the issues of forgiveness, redemption, and the hope found in Jesus. She is the author of Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness, an incredible true story of grace, mercy, and the redemptive power of God. Her story was featured in Billy Graham’s film, Heaven, as well as on many other national and regional radio and television programs. She is a contributor to Zondervan’s NIV Bible for Women and writes at LaurieCoombs.org. Laurie and her husband, Travis, make their home in Nevada along with their three daughters.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16
I once did a 40-day Bible reading challenge. The challenge was just as it sounds––read through the Bible in 40 days. Yep––the whole thing! For 41 days (I got behind a bit), beginning in Genesis and ending with Revelation, I read an average of 30 chapters a day. This challenge was crazy, but let me tell you: it was absolutely amazing!
When first presented with all this craziness, I was intrigued, but I didn't think I could do it. After all, I have children who need their mommy and a husband who needs his wife, but God made it happen. Day in and day out, I was given the time needed to soak in the truth of God's Word. And when God's truth continually washes over you, something begins to stirs within your soul. God works. He teaches. He shows you things you've been missing all along or have forgotten amidst the busyness of life.
Throughout this time, there were days I was moved to tears as I read (well, ok, I actually cried most days) because the more I read, the more the love and faithfulness of our mighty God was impressed upon my heart.
I think I've mentioned this recently, but I just love how Sally Lloyd-Jones describes the love of God in The Jesus Storybook Bible. She says God loves us "with a Never Stopping, Never Giving up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love." Isn't that an amazing description?
And it was this love that become so real to me during the challenge.
The whole of the Bible tells the story of God. It tells of a people––made to love and be loved by God––who rebelled against their loving Father, bringing sin into the world. From this moment on, God sought to bring His people back to Himself once again, saying I will be your God and you shall be my people.
The Bible describes a love affair between God and His people in which He faithfully pursues the hearts of man. But even through God's pursuit, the people continued rebelled. They rebelled over and over and over again. Yet, God never forsook them though He had every right to do so. But instead, He chose to love them, despite their rebellion and sin.
God's plan ultimately culminated with Jesus.
Jesus was God's love displayed in flesh. He was the way. The way back to God. As said before, God could have left us in our hopeless sinful state, but instead, He provided a way back to Himself. Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
For 33 years, Love walked the Earth.
Love healed wounds.
Love freed the captives.
Love showed us the way as He called and said, "Follow Me."
And Love was nailed to a cross on Calvary.
But ultimately, Love rose again, bringing new life to those who put their trust in Jesus.
A New Beginning
This is a time of new beginnings. The new year has come upon us once again, and though many people consider the new year to be a time for a fresh start, I'd like to propose a different idea. I believe each and every day is a new beginning. Scripture tells us "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning" (Lamentations 3:22-23). And so while the rest of the world tells you the new year is the time to make the necessary changes needed in your life, I think Scripture would tell us that we have a new beginning each time wake. I like this idea much better because, I don't know about you, but I tend to mess up a lot. I tend to set goals, and I tend to do well with those goals for a short time, but then I inevitably seem to fail. And I don't think I'm alone in that either. I'm not sure what the specific statistics are, but I do know that most people who set "New Year's Resolutions" give up on them within a very short period of time.
But when we are able to see God's heart toward us and that we are given new mercy and grace each moment of the day to empower us to live the life we're called to, we will begin to see some victory in the areas of our lives that need to change. We need to understand that change is not possible apart from the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, and what better way to be transformed than to inundate our minds with the Word of God. As said before, something begins to happen when we continually read the Bible. You don't have to do something crazy like a 40-day reading challenge, but it is important to read at least a little each day.
Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." The Bible is not just another book. It's the power of God, and I am certain that if you pour your heart into reading the Bible each day and allow its truths to wash over your mind, you most certainly will change.
The moment we give our lives to Christ, we begin the process of Sanctification––of becoming more and more like Jesus. But we must be people of the Word if we're to see any real, lasting change in our lives. The love of God, woven throughout Scripture, will change you, and so I encourage you to set aside time each day to read the Bible. I know you will not regret doing so.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. - Romans 12:2