Monday, January 18, 2010

Give us this day for bread the Word of God

“Give us this day for bread the Word of God from Heaven” says a version of the Lord’s Prayer found in the ancient Irish Gospels,” writes Evelyn Underhill as she concludes her discussion of the request for daily bread in the Lord’s Prayer. Her next paragraph, contains just five sentences. Each one is packed with a depth of insight that will deepen our understanding of the Lord’s Prayer:

“God gives Himself mainly along two channels: through the soul’s daily life and circumstances and through its prayer. In both that soul must always be ready for Him; wide open to receive Him, and willing to accept and absorb without fastidiousness that which is given, however distasteful and unsuitable it may seem. For the Food of Eternal Life is mostly plain bread; and though it has indeed all sweetness and all savour for those who accept it with meekness and love, there is nothing in it to attract a more fanciful religious taste. All life’s vicissitudes, each grief, trial or sacrifice, each painful step in self-knowledge, every opportunity of love or renunciation and every humiliating fall, have their place here.

“All give, in their various ways and disguises, the heavenly Food. A sturdy realism is the mark of this divine self-imparting, and the enabling grace of those who receive” (Abba by Evelyn Underhill, in Treasures from the Spiritual Classics, 1982, Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, PA, third printing , 1996, pages 41-43; a compilation of extracts from Abba, 1940, Longmans Green & Co Ltd).

What type of heavenly bread have you enjoyed today? Did you pray for any type of bread today? When you pray, are you "wide open to receive Him, and willing to accept and absorb" without complaint what He supplies?

A New Year’s Reading Resolution

In J.B. Phillips version of 1Timothy 4:13, the apostle Paul urges Timothy to “Concentrate until my arrival on your reading and on your preaching and teaching.” This verse was one of many in Paul’s letters to Timothy that caught my attention last week while preparing to teach a Saturday morning men’s Bible study.

In 2010 I want to pay attention to my reading because I find that careful reading and study lay a solid foundation for any teaching opportunity or assignment like the one I just had.

The Amplified Bible expands on the verse so it reads “Till I come, devote yourself to [public and private] reading; to exhortation [preaching and teaching and personal appeals] and to teaching and instilling doctrine.”

The New International Version
underlines the public aspect of Paul’s challenge: “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” While The Message summarizes: “Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching.”

In all the versions there is a strong link between reading and both preaching and teaching. For Christian communicators who want their message to be as effective as Paul’s letters to Timothy in motivating and challenging others to grow in faith—the year’s reading plan can be based on a plan to read through the whole Bible.

I personally like using the One Year Bible (Tyndale House, Wheaton 1986)which calendars daily readings that combine Old and New Testament readings with Psalms and Proverbs. This year I’m adding the One Year Chronological Bible (Tyndale House, Carol Stream, Illinois, 1995)to my daily Bible reading plan to get a better grasp of when key events occurred in relation to one another. I’m also resolving to more closely relate my general reading to specific teaching topics or assignments.

How about you: “What’s in your reading plan for 2010?”
I’m interested in hearing about your reading resolutions, plans, or other comments about reading in the year ahead.