Join us as we read the Bible each day. It’s a practice that we have been doing for over 30 years and we hope it will benefit your life as much as it has ours. - Nicky and Pippa Gumbel
Day 259: God Loves Imperfect People
I am far from perfect. I sometimes find it hard to believe that God really loves me – especially when I mess up, fail or make bad decisions.
Actually, no one is perfect – apart from Jesus. But God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son to die for us (John 3:16). Therefore, God must love imperfect people. In fact, ‘While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8).
God knows that perfect people do not exist. We all fail. God’s love for you is bigger than your mistakes. God loves imperfect people.
Everyone knows that their marriage partner is not perfect, their children are not perfect, their parents are not perfect, and their friends are not perfect. But we love imperfect people. If we love imperfect people perhaps it shouldn’t surprise us that God loves imperfect people even more.
Day 258: Every Crisis is an Opportunity
President John F. Kennedy once remarked that ‘when written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters. One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.’ Every crisis is, at the same time, an opportunity. Crises are often caused by unexpected difficulties.
All of us have problems. Many of us will face crises. How do you respond to a time of trouble, danger or unexpected difficulties in your personal life? How do we respond to unexpected difficulties in the church or in our nation? What do we do when we are ‘at [our] wits’ end’? (Psalm 107:27). What do we do when the ‘truth of the gospel’ is at stake? (Galatians 2:5). How do we respond to ‘a black day’ in our lives? (Isaiah 37:3, MSG).
Day 89: A Hundredfold Return
He was brought up on one of the roughest estates in Manchester. His father was an alcoholic. He left school at fifteen. He ran away from home. He lived on the streets. He joined a gang. He got involved in crime and ended up in prison. When he came out, he joined the army. He went through two divorces.
In 1994, he walked into our church and did Alpha. He encountered Jesus and was filled with the Holy Spirit. He started visiting prisoners. He joined the HTB staff team to head up the work in prisons. He started an organisation to care for ex-offenders. He set up a homeless project. He started a course to help those with addictions and courses to help those struggling with depression and debt.
Under his leadership, Alpha for Prisons has spread through the prisons in the UK and seventy-six countries around the world. Thousands have come to faith in Jesus Christ. Hundreds of men and women have been placed in churches through the ministry of Caring for Ex-Offenders.
Paul Cowley, author of Thief, Prisoner, Soldier, Priest, is an example of someone who was the good soil on which the seed fell. He has a noble and good heart. He heard the word, retained it and by persevering has produced a crop hundreds of times more than was sown (Luke 8:8,15). He encountered Jesus as his Saviour, Sower and Shepherd.
Day 47: Put First Things First
Shortly after we were married, Pippa and I went to a conference about marriage. One of the sessions I will never forget was about priorities. We were given five cards – each with a word on it: 'work', 'God', 'ministry', 'husband/wife' and 'children'. We were asked to rank these in order of priority. With hindsight, I can see I got them in completely the wrong order.
I put 'God' first (at least I got that one right – but it was fairly obvious!), followed by ministry, wife, work, and, finally, children (we didn't have any children at that stage so they didn't seem very important!).
As the leaders of the conference took us through these priorities, it became clear to me that my order should be: first of all God, then my wife (my primary calling), our children, my job (my primary ministry), and finally my ministry – which, though obviously very important, should not be allowed to displace the primary responsibilities of my life. As the philosopher Goethe put it, 'Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.'
Put first things first. The things which matter most to God should take first place in our lives.
Day 26: Why Does God Allow Suffering?
A one-year-old boy shattered his back falling down a flight of stairs. He spent his childhood and youth in and out of hospital. Gavin Read, the former Bishop of Maidstone, interviewed him in church. The boy remarked, 'God is fair.' Gavin asked, 'How old are you?' 'Seventeen,' the boy replied. 'How many years have you spent in hospital?' The boy answered, 'Thirteen years.' Gavin asked, 'Do you think that is fair?' He replied, 'God has got all of eternity to make it up to me.'
We live in a world of instant gratification that has almost entirely lost its eternal perspective. The New Testament is full of wonderful promises about the future: all creation will be restored. Jesus will return to establish 'a new heaven and a new earth' (Revelation 21:1). There will be no more crying, for there will be no more pain and suffering. Our frail, decaying mortal bodies will be changed for a body like that of Jesus' glorious resurrected body.
Suffering is not part of God's original created order (see Genesis 1–2). There was no suffering in the world before rebellion against God. There will be no suffering when God creates a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:3–4). Suffering is, therefore, an alien intrusion into God's world.
This, of course, is not a complete answer to the question 'Why does God allow suffering?¹' As we saw yesterday there is no simple or complete solution, but each of today's passages gives us some further insight.
Day 257: 'Are You Saved?'
I have a picture, sitting on the windowsill in my study, of Bishop Westcott. It was given to me by his great-grandson. The nineteenth-century English scholar, Bishop B.F. Westcott, was Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University.
On one occasion he was approached by a zealous undergraduate who asked him, ‘Are you saved?’ ‘Ah,’ said the Bishop, ‘a very good question. But tell me: do you mean…?’ And then he mentioned three passive participles of the Greek verb ‘to save’, indicating that his answer would depend on which of the three the student had in mind (the English translation is given here in italics). ‘I know I have been saved,’ he said; ‘I believe I am being saved; and I hope by the grace of God that I shall be saved.’
‘Salvation’ is a huge and comprehensive word. It means ‘freedom’. As the Bishop pointed out, there are three tenses of salvation: you have been set free from the penalty of sin, you are being set free from the power of sin and you will be set free from the presence of sin.
This is a brilliant podcast, great reading of the Bible by David Suchet and excellent commentary from Nicky Gumbel and Pippa, but....... can we please have updates for 2020? Been more than a week now with nothing. This is such a great Bible resource but we really need to sort out the technical side so the Word can reach as big an audience as possible
The great and the gaps
Great concept and content.Concept spoilt because needs to be daily and no gaps-will have to go back to BIOY app.
Happy but Gappy
Great but big gaps nothing between say 19 and day 42