Daily Devotional for Thursday December 27, 2012
My Annual New Year's Resolution Message
***ASK BILL: Pastor Bill, how do we work out our Salvation with fear an trembling?
ANSWER: It is a daily journey. Once you have made that confession of faith you are saved, but now you must grow in your faith. It is the process of sanctification that begins the moment you are saved and is only finished when you take your last breath and graduate to Heaven. Like anything, it takes hard work to grow as a Christian. Reading the word, praying, being part of a local fellowship of Believers, finding ways to serve the Lord, are all elements we need to work on daily to grow in our faith and become more like the Lord.
A great tradition here at Liveprayer is my annual New Year's resolution message. This the 14th year I have had the honor of sharing this special message, and tens of thousands of people have taken my challenge and read the Bible cover to cover in a year, something less than 10% of people who profess to be Christians have ever done. Have you? If not, I am praying that you will make this YOUR New Year's resolution for 2013!
Having preached to several hundred thousand people in evangelistic meetings in churches of all denominations throughout the country, having ministered to millions via television and radio through the years, and having prayed for and intimately counseled thousands and thousands of people over my 20 years of ministry...I would have to say the biggest problem I have encountered with Believers is the vast majority have never read the instruction manual!!!
Statistical research shows that less than 10% of professing Christians have ever read the entire Bible. The church as a whole is Biblically illiterate! >From time to time in my Devotional I will give my opinion on an issue and I am very careful to always let you know when it is Bill Keller's opinion. Most of the time I just let God's words speak for themselves. There is not one issue, one thing we deal with in everyday life that is not covered in the Bible.
How many people are in terrible marriages where one spouse is a nonbeliever. Do you think God admonished us to "not be unequally yoked" for nothing? How about those dealing with horrible illnesses because they abused themselves over the years with alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, and food. Does God not tell us our body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit? How many families are ripped apart by bitterness and hatred when the Bible commands us to "have love one for another," to "forgive as Christ has forgiven you," and to "love your enemies." I have to be honest. In many cases it is not as much rebellion towards God as it is complete ignorance of God's Word.
Like many men, I get a new electronic toy and the first thing I do is open the box, toss the instructions to the side, and start "putting it together." Usually after a period of time when it is not working or I have broken something, I grab the instructions and put it together correctly. How much easier would it have been if I had done that first. It is the same in our walk with God. Many people claim they can't hear God. God may be talking to you and you can't hear Him because you don't know what to be listening for. The Bible is one way that God speaks to us. If you want to hear God, just read the Book.
I know that those who get this Devotional each day are of above average intelligence which is why I am very direct and to the point. I share things knowing that you are smart enough to understand what God expects you to do, I don't have to paint a picture. So if you ever listened to me at all, listen to what I am going to say to you now. This applies to everyone, even those that may have read the Bible cover to cover 100 times.
***It takes an individual of average reading ability 90 hours to read the entire Bible. That is one hour a day for 3 months, or one half hour a day for 6 months, or 15 minutes a day for 12 months. Most people make New Year's resolutions. Here is one for you with eternal rewards and will be more valuable than losing 10 pounds that you will just put back on. Carve out one hour, 30 minutes, or 15 minutes every day starting January 1st and start reading at Genesis 1:1. One hour, 30 minutes, or 15 minutes, you choose. I suggest that for those 90 days, or 6 months, or the next 12 months, you get up that amount of time earlier than normal and do it the very first thing. Trust me, God will give you the strength you need during the day. Losing a little sleep will not kill you. Quite the opposite. It will save you 100 times that in lost sleep over the years from problems caused because you didn't take time to read the instruction book.
Now listen, I understand that some of the Old Testament can be dry. The Jewish laws, the genealogy of kings, some of the prophetic books can be very confusing and at times boring. Plug on. Don't get discouraged because you don't understand everything you are reading. Having read the Bible cover to cover many, many, many times, each time is a new experience for me. You might have accepted this challenge before. This message is still for you! DO IT AGAIN! YOU CAN NEVER GET TOO MUCH OF GOD'S WORD!!!
WARNING: I am not the Bible answer man so don't start flooding me with questions. I'll pray for you anytime, but I cannot handle thousands of Bible questions. I do suggest though you keep a notepad of questions and talk them over with your pastor.
Trust me when I tell you, reading the Bible cover to cover will change your life. You will see things you never thought were in the Bible. You will see God's warnings and promises to help you through tough times. Most of all, you will start to understand how God thinks. How can you please God if you don't understand how He thinks? He knows you are not a mind reader. That is one reason He gave you the Bible so you could begin to understand what God expects from your life.
I promise you the time you spend reading the Bible cover to cover will be the most important time of your life. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of what I am challenging you to do. Start at the very beginning. That way you can see God from the creation of our world, to the very end. It is better than any book or movie you have ever read or seen.
The Bible is our final authority for all matters concerning this life. In this day of being politically correct, accepting everyone's beliefs and ideas, we are in the mess we are morally and spiritually because we have gotten away from the black and white truth of God's Word. We have no one to blame but ourselves. In this day of instant gratification, drive thru food, cell phones, fax machines, email, Federal Express, jet travel, we want what we want now and refuse to wait.
We have become lazy which is why we don't take the time to read the Bible. I guarantee you that you will spend 90 hours plus in front of the television, the computer, with the newspaper, or doing something else that you enjoy. I am not saying quit living and enjoying your life. What I am saying is that you have the time, it is only a matter of whether this is a big enough priority for you to take the time.
I love you, care about you, and my heart breaks every day as I read the thousands of prayer requests I receive. How much heartache and pain could have been avoided if people would have only read the Book and followed the instructions. You cannot believe how much sense this life makes when you are living under the direction of God's Word. As I say often, our way does not work, God's way does!
I will be praying that the Lord really opens your heart and conviction floods you right now as you read these words. I can't force you to do it, you have to want to do it. I will be praying and trusting the Holy Spirit to move on your heart to take this challenge, even now as you read these words. This will be the best New Year's resolution you will ever make.
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ,